Did you win? No, not the the little ‘got my money back’ prizes, the big kahuna, the number one prize, the ‘I know what I would do if I won’, jackpot. No…you didn’t. Well, apparently 3 people did, including one from here in Florida. And no, twas not me. I didn’t play, so my odds of winning were the same as anyone who did play. And I still have the dollar I would have spent.
$1.3 billion. Lots of money, wasn’t it? My FB timeline was chock full of people outlining what they were going to do with the money when, not if mind you, but when they won. Promises were thrown out all over the place. If I actually received all the boats friends promised to buy me if they won, I would have a fleet large enough to conquer the Caribbean. And I appreciate the sentiment, but let’s get real here folks, the lottery is a scam and you ain’t gonna win.
Yes, I know, such and such won here, somebody won there, but the odds are so out of whack it’s just not worth the expense. I used to play, a lot. The most I ever won was about $600 in one week. Not even close to what I spent. The lower tier prizes come up just enough to tease you into playing more. Eventually, I got smart and quit. It’s been years since I bought a ticket. In fact, about 3 years ago when I was up north, a relative bought me some scratch off tickets and I won almost $200. Paid for half my airfare. But I still have not spent another dime on any sort of gambling.
I will admit though, when the jackpot hit a billion this past week, I was tempted. “What the hell, it’s only a dollar.” I waste dollars every week buying bad food to put down my throat. Another won’t make a difference. But I didn’t and so what. Not like I really lost out. And what would I do if indeed I did win all that money? To be honest, I have no idea, and neither do most people.
For the vast majority of us, we cannot handle finances very well. We are in debt up to our asses, we buy things we don’t need, and make poor choices when we do invest. So how would a sudden influx of millions of dollars change our way of thinking? It wouldn’t. Rich people are rich because they do things which keep them rich. Poor people are poor, because they do things which keep them poor. Rich people have learned how to handle their wealth. Years of experience, knowledge of the financial markets, and education go a long way in maintaining those big piles of cash. Most poor people, and I am including just about everyone who ain’t a millionaire, were brought up to make poor choices when it comes to money. Buying things and consuming are drilled in from the beginning. While saving money is always given some lip service, going shopping is considered a way of life. Go out and spend. And when you don’t have the money to spend, borrow it. Ring up lots of debt, pay outlandish interest rates, but never stop spending. So anytime some poor slob actually does come into some windfall, chances are said windfall will be gone very quickly, spent on objects of desire. Buying some toy one always wanted because dammit, I worked hard and I deserve it.
I’v seen it happen more than a few times. One time in particular, when I was selling motorcycles, a couple came in, all beaming and happy. They had acquired a sudden small fortune, inheritance or lawsuit settlement, I don’t remember which. But there they were, an otherwise two income working class family in the burb’s with a mortgage and an beat up old pick up, and they now had the money to pay cash on the barrelhead for a spanking new motorcycle. Indeed they did buy it and rode off happy as could be. Six months later, we at the dealership had bought back said motorcycle, at a much lower price than what they paid, and said couple were back to square one. Working 2 jobs, still with a mortgage, a bit poorer than before, and no wiser.
Mark Cuban, world famous playboy billionaire, had some real good advice on what to do if by chance you did win the lottery, or come into any substantial monetary gain. Among his tips, if you were not happy before, you won’t be happy after you win. Get a tax attorney and listen to them. Put the money in the bank and leave it there. Don’t invest because you have no experience in investing. I know the last point quite well. I took some windfalls I had in the past and threw them into the stock market. I lost thousands of dollars, and rather quickly too. Should I ever come into a windfall again, it goes into the bank, and stays there.
Don’t get me wrong here. There is nothing wrong with spending some of said windfall to get out of debt. Pay off loans, take care of outstanding bills. As long as you don’t incur new debt nor new bills later on. I’ve personally finally managed to get out of that rut. And sure, maybe treat yourself to some toy you always lusted after, or upgrade your home a little bit. But don’t do it right away. Put the money in the bank, keep working at what you are doing, give it some time, and think clearly about what you want to do financially before actually doing it.
The first thing everyone says if they win the lottery is they will go into work, tell the asshole boss to go fuck himself, and walk out a hero. All well and fine, and just for the record, I have done that, without winning the lottery, and yes, it feels just as awesome as you think it would, until you wake up the next morning and realize you have no income. But it sure felt good at the time. But again, should you ever hit a windfall, don’t do anything stupid like that until you are sure of what you have and what you will be doing. As hard as it is to get a large financial gain, it is extremely easy to lose it all.
And let’s not forget the other burden you would incur if you did win a big prize…the fame. Once word gets out you are a billionaire, every scam artist, every con, every relative, every ‘friend’ will be seeking you out with one single thought in mind…how to get the money from your pocket into theirs. You will be amazed how many people will try to scam you when they think you are wealthy. You may think you can hide, but they will find you.
As for the lottery, it’s a fool’s game. A tax on the stupid. I call it part of the ‘white trash trifecta’. Go into any convenience store and watch how many people buy the following three items: beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. It’s a tremendous waste of money as is any gambling. There is only one guaranteed rule in gambling…the house always wins….always. Casinos and governments don’t put out these games so you can get rich. The odds are always stacked against you and it’s a simple fact, the house will always walk away with your money.
When these big jackpots come along, the odds of winning do not change. The chances of you winning a couple million dollars in the regular lottery are no different than the big pot. But marketing and hype, all designed to get you to play more makes you think there is a more better chance of winning. There ain’t.
Dropping a dollar here and there on the lottery is no big deal. Maybe take some spare change and grab some numbers just for fun. But for you people who play it like it’s a job, who have your ‘special’ numbers, who keep your ‘lucky’ tickets in a secret folder, who believe you have a ‘system’ for winning, give it up. You are being scammed and screwed out of your money. You are not going to win. No, you are not.
For the rest of us, learn more better on how to manage the money we do acquire. Quit spending it on junk, eliminate debt, and try to save as much as possible for the hard times. Get into some good money habits and if by chance, you do happen to come into some sort of financial windfall, you will be more better prepared to keep what you get, rather than lose it.
Take the money you would normally spend on the lottery, and instead of buying tickets, throw it in a jar someplace. At the end of the year, take said jar and count up the money. Chances are pretty good you will have more then than if you had wasted it on the lottery. On the other hand, if you insist on playing, save up all those worthless tickets in the same jar, and at the end of the year, count them up and sob at the realization you have lost so much and have nothing but some slips of worthless paper to show for it. (Hint: Broil or fry them, it cuts the bitter taste ever so slightly.)
Stop gambling and get smart with your money. It’s hard enough to keep it away from the corporations let alone willingly give it away to a casino or the government. Gambling is a scam. Always has been, always will be.