I Play the Lottery

Wednesday’s Powerball Jackpot is an estimated $235 million. I don’t have a ticket, but I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance I will by the time the drawing comes. Okay, maybe more like 25/75; Stopping to buy a ticket always seems like such a hassle!

I play the lottery. There, I said it. Not all the time, mind you. Maybe once a month, maybe sometimes more. I’ll buy 1 Powerball ticket, and usually 1 ticket for my State drawing. Poof! $3, down the drain.

Dave Ramsey calls it the “stupid tax”. I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to it. You hear all the time about people buying 20, 30 tickets, praying that they’ll be the lucky winner. People who can’t afford rent, or food, standing in line to buy a ticket to freedom. People who consider their twice weekly lottery purchase their “retirement savings”. I actually worked with a woman who swore that she and her husband were destined to be big winners. It wasn’t a matter of IF, but WHEN.

Do I think I’ll ever win? No, almost definitely not. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’d want to win big. $100,000, maybe a million? Sure. One of those “small” winners, that barely gets noticed. But $3 here and there gives me the chance to dream.

True, I could be investing that $36 or so a year into an index fund, compounding into a more secure future. The real question is though: If I weren’t buying the lottery tickets, would that money be getting invested? Well, no. That $3 comes of out my weekly spending money. If I weren’t buying tickets, that money would be going towards something else I want or need. It would still be getting spent in the short-term. And sure, if I were buying large numbers of tickets on a regular basis, I could then say that if I weren’t playing the lotto, I would need less spending money, and could therefore increase my savings. Realistically though, I’m not going to decrease my spending money by $1 a week, and stop playing the lottery.

Sometimes it’s nice to have things you spend a little bit on just for fun. That’s what playing the lottery is; A fun little diversion. Or at least what it should be. Not a plan for the future. Just cheap entertainment.

Do you play the lottery? Or do you feel it’s a waste of money?

– Cindy W.


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