Do you play the lottery? My husband and I did for a while, and I would buy a ticket every now and then when I got a good “feeling” about the numbers but eventually it felt, somehow, wrong to me, like if I was lucky enough to win, that I’d be stealing money from all of the losing ticket holders. Granted, the losing lottery ticket holders only lost a dollar or two, but it got me thinking about how, if each of us willingly gave up a dollar here and there and mutually agreed who to give it to, what the world would be like. Of course, we’d never agree on who should receive the windfall; certainly there are many who need and/or deserve it. But I digress…
Statistically, the regular lottery ticket and scratch off players are of the lower to lower-middle income category. Being a financial planner who loves behavioral finance and also counsels low income individuals on good money management tools, the concept of the lottery got me thinking about what lottery tickets buyers think.
The first thing people typically think about when considering the possibility of winning the lottery is quitting their job, followed by buying a large home. Maybe this is my disconnect; I love my job and love our small (but charming) home. Now I’m not saying having a place that would be suitable to entertain our combined extended families wouldn’t be nice, but what would be our carbon footprint? And while it’d be nice to work at my leisure, I think work serves a larger purpose in our lives, besides financially benefitting us. Work provides a social connection, the ability to learn and grow, and can provide a sense of accomplishment and can serve as a source of pride.
But maybe that’s why certain people try so desperately to win the lottery; they hate their jobs and their homes. Isn’t this more of a mental state than a financial one? I wonder what would happen if everyone enjoyed their work and loved and accepted their material possessions as they are? I think a lot less lottery tickets would be sold. Instead of sending money to the lottery to change your life, why not invest it in programs that help improve your life? such as a first-time home buyer’s account, retirement savings plan, or college funding program or to take a class to improve your skills to get a better job that you would enjoy. Hmmm, it’s probably easier to buy the ticket.