Today as I waited to pay for my one small cup of coffee (and when the hell did gas stations start charging a buck and a quarter for regular coffee?) I watched a man lay down seventy-five dollars in cash on a single transaction. The part that galls me? There was no gas involved in this sale. The man, looking like he desperately needed a bath and a shave (no BO involved, though, thank heaven) bought seventy-five dollars worth of lottery tickets and a doughnut. Lottery. Tickets. And. A. Doughut.
While this sounds like a great name for a book or a band, this is not sound financing. That money could have been set into an IRA or a savings account of some sort and started making money immediately! Playing the lottery is just ridiculous, in my opinion. I don’t even buy scratch-offs! I enjoy them as much as the next person, and I had a grand old time in Vegas playing the penny machines. Still, Vegas is like Bingo. You take a set amount of money with no expectation on a return. The lottery is just pumping money into a system and hoping to win the pot. It’s praying that suitcase next to you has the million dollars. There is no strategy or skill. Only luck – and one should never stake their future finances on luck.
While I’m sure that members of my family and many readers out there in internet-land are rolling their eyes at me, think of it like this. If you drop, as this man did, $75 every week, two weeks- let’s say just once a month- on these stupid tickets that’s $900 annually that could be put toward a money market account or a CD or some other low risk interest building savings. Start at my age (I set $82 a month into an IRA) and in ten years you can have $9000 (yes, I know you can add too) not including interest. Live healthy and by the time you’re ready to retire (or if you’re like me and plan to work forever in your own little bookstore and bake cookies) this money will be there for you to supplement whatever retirement plan you may have.
Okay, I’m waxing poetic now, but my point remains. The lottery is not worth the payout even if you win. Just save your money and indulge in Starbucks now and then.