Buying lottery tickets is really stupid, right? Money pros call them a stupidity tax. You’ll never win, and even if you do, the prize will be split between a bunch of people. After all, 1 in 175,223,510 according to the Powerball site is the chance of winning the jackpot. Odds of being struck by lightening in your lifetime? 1 in 10,000 from the National Weather Service Lightening Safety site.
I disagree. Buying a lottery ticket isn’t as stupid as you think….. IF….
If you can afford to spend the 2 bucks on the ticket once in awhile, a powerball ticket can buy you:
Hours of Entertainment
On rare occasions when I buy a ticket, I typically spend at least an hour doing math – figuring out how much money I would get each week, month and year if I won the jackpot. I figure out how much of it I would need to invest to guarentee myself tax free income of $100K a year for life. I figure out how long it will take to get that amount to invest if I take the annuity. I figure out whether it would be better to take the lump sum or the annuity.
I spend a few hours dreaming about the things I would get and the things I would do with all that money. I spend a couple thinking up charitable project I would fund and projects I would undertake. Would I start a business? How about a family foundation? Would I set my brother up for life so he didn’t have to worry about losing his house?
Sometimes a person just gets discouraged plugging away at their day to day job or business, sometimes getting ahead finacially, sometimes falling behind. What would it be like to not have to worry about money?
A Chance to Realize Your Dreams (without the money)
By dreaming about what I would do with the jackpot winnings, I force myself to think through what is really important to me. All of my life has been focused on making ends meet and building up an asset base to help the family out. If, all of a sudden, I no longer have that purpose, what is going to be my purpose – what is it that I should do. Once I figure that out, I start thinking – Why do I need a lot of money to do that? I could do that now – at least on some scale. Hence, I start realizing my dreams, even without the money.
Opportunities to Think Outside Your Daily Realm
Without the need to work, my world would change. If I had a bunch of money, my relationship with others might change. Thinking through these things helps me to better understand what I want out of the world and my relationships. Knowing those things I can then work to mold them into what I want.
I think that money is power (at least to some degree). If I had the power in my relationships, how would I change them and would the relationship hold up to that change?
Good Feelings for Giving Support to Government and Schools
The Missouri Lottery site claims:
“Beginning with fiscal year 1994, Missouri Lottery proceeds have gone solely to the state’s public education system, representing approximately 4 percent of the total funding for Missouri’s public schools “
The Kansas lottery site says:
“The first $50 million is divided by a formula which first transfers $80,000 to the Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund. Then 85 percent of the balance is transferred to the Economic Development Initiatives Fund, 10 percent to the Correctional Institutions Building Fund, and 5 percent to the Juvenile Detention Facilities Fund. Any receipts in excess of $50 million must be transferred to the State General Fund. “
The New York State Lottery says:
“The Lottery contributed nearly $2.9 billion to help support education in New York State in fiscal year 2011-12 which is nearly 15 percent of total state education funding to local school districts”.
Besides, someone has to win, right? Why not you?
However, buying lottery tickets is stupid if you can’t afford them or if you are addicted to buying them, after all, you are actually just spending the money – the same way you do when you buy a movie ticket or an iced coffee. A lottery ticket is not a retirement plan and it’s not an investment!
Although I swore I would never play when the lottery first started, I confess that I do buy a ticket once or twice a year, just for fun.
Do you buy lottery tickets or pursue other forms of gambling? How do you justify your spend?