Myth: Lottery is my best chance of becoming a millionaire. You can’t win if you don’t play!
Truth: You won’t win if you do play. Lottery is a tax on the poor.
Let’s look at the facts here. You’ve probably heard that you are three times more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the jackpot in the lottery. Depending on the year and the weather, I’ve seen stats that say it’s more like 6 to 45 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the lottery. Now, I don’t want to be struck by lightning anytime soon, so I definitely don’t plan on playing the lottery.
But the sad part of the lottery goes even deeper than the odds. The average lottery player nationwide spends $150 per month on the game. That’s a lot of money and there’s a significant opportunity cost in spending that much money every month on a game where your odds of winning are akin to burning your cash in the fireplace to stay warm.
What’s even worse? The average high income player spends less than $25 per month on the lottery. It’s the low income earners who disproportionately spend the most money on the game. Lottery gamblers with household incomes under $10,000 dollars bet nearly 3 times more on the lottery than those with incomes over $50,000. Even worse, 33% of Americans believe the lottery is their only chance of becoming financially secure in their lifetime. That’s a very sad testament to the desperation in the lower income families of America.
So what if you didn’t play the lottery? You can?t win if you don’t play, right? Well let’s say you’re a less than average player spending only $50 per month on the lottery. Instead let’s pretend you invest that money each month in good diversified mutual funds earning an average return of 12% over time. If you do that from age 20 to age 65, you would have roughly $1.07 million dollars! And you’d have it at retirement age. You don’t need to play the lottery to retire. You just need to have a little discipline and invest something every month over time.
But let’s not stop there. The average player spends $150 per month. What’s the opportunity cost of their gambling? If you invest $150 per month over the same 45 years, you’d end up with over $3.2 million. I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like the average lottery player is paying an awful high price for the thrill of could be and the agony of never winning. It’s sad to see someone spend so much for so long to end up with nothing when they retire, all because they didn’t know the truth about the lottery.
The truth is, the lottery is a tax on the poor. Don’t play the lottery. Build your own retirement jackpot instead.
Matt Wegner is a personal finance, career, small business and leadership coach dedicated to teaching his clients the tools for L.I.F.E. (Living In Financial Excellence). Start enjoying life at financialexcellence.net.