Impulse Spending: Lottery Fever

The Powerball has climbed to $625 million for the drawing on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The higher the prize climbs the more people get lottery fever and feel the need to buy into the dream that the next big winner could be them. It is okay to dream but the question becomes, where is the line between dreaming and gambling money one cannot afford to lose?

A coworker of mine buys one ticket for every drawing no matter the size of the prize. This amounts to a modest $4 a week, and he calls it a tax on dreamers.  He knows that he is not likely to actually win anything of significance but still plays. My coworker has a rule to never buy more than one ticket; either you are going to win or you are not, but one ticket is enough. This is on the caution side of the line and dreaming.

I’ll be honest, I recently started joining my friend in the one ticket per drawing dream. But my dream is a little smaller than his, I just dream of wining the second-place prize; first place prize gets too much attention.  Overall, the cost of this indulgence is easily absorbable…but yes, it is on my budget under discretionary spending.

This week as the pot grew from $425 to $625 some of the people I work with started an office pool with a buy in of $40 per person. I read an article around the time of the 1.5 billion lottery that posed a theory that the reason people start office pools is because they want to have something to bond over. Most know they will not win, but want the camaraderie that comes with having a common dream, even if it is only for a little while.

The part that is crazy to me is hearing the individuals in the pool talking about buying additional tickets. Why do I say crazy? Well the same people buying all these tickets are the same ones who often speak about having a difficult time paying bills, or paying bills on time. They think if only they win this time all their money woes will go away. But the chances of them winning are 1 in 262 million. The reality is when you cannot pay your bills, the lottery is not likely to be your way out. This is on the side of the line where people gamble money they cannot afford to lose.

.The lottery phenomenon is interesting to me, people want to dream a little dream. Logically we know that the chances are so small that we will win, but a small voice says “it has to be someone, maybe it will be me.”  At the end of the day my perspective always comes back to budget. If you have the extra money to spend, by all means have fun. If not, do yourself a favor and avoid the impulse spending.

To all of you out there, do you dream the little dream? Or do you stay out of the game?

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