A Lottery Life

I’m amazed at the number of people who, week in and week out, buy a lottery ticket or five. I’ll have to confess to buying a couple of tickets in my life (I once won 100 tickets on a radio call-in show.) Whenever I do, I spend the week fantasizing about what I’d do if I won, and when I don’t win I move on. Cheap entertainment if $1 gives you a week of dreaming. But if dreaming is all you’re doing and the lottery is your big plan for “financial freedom” you need to give your head a shake.

Do you understand the odds involved in winning a lottery? Lets take the 6/49 lottery that operates all over North America as an example. To win top dollar, you must have chosen the six numbers drawn. Your first number has a one in 49 chance of being right. The second number has a one in 48 chance – ooh the odds are getting better – since there is one less number (the one drawn) in the pool of potential numbers available. But wait a minute. To get both these numbers, the odds go down to one in 2352 (49 times 48 = 2352). Oops.  You have  a one in 110,544 chance to get three correct numbers (49 x 48 x 47 = 110,544), a one in 5,085,024 chance of getting four correct, a one in 228,826,080 chance of getting five correct, and a one in 10,068,347,520 chance of getting all six correct. That’s right, you have a one in 10 billion chance of winning the 6/49.

The lottery has been called “a tax on stupidity” for a good reason. With odds like one in ten billion, a half-wit knows better than to throw good money away on something less likely than getting hit by lightening… since the odds of being struck by lightening are only 1 in 56,439!

So why do we do it? If we are three times more likely to die in a car accident on the way to buying a lottery ticket, than to win the lottery, why do we routinely plunk down our dollars for the blue-moon opportunity to hit it big?

Even if we are aware that our chances are slim to non-existent, when we think about winning the lottery, a warm feeling of optimism surges through us. All the problems would go away. All that money would mean freedom from stress and worry. And hell, a vacation or twelve, maybe some new shoes, goshdangit, we could pay off the house!

There’s big money is selling the dream. According to the Stats Man almost sixty percent of the profits earned by government-owned business enterprise (called GBEs for short), came from lottery, gaming and liquor enterprises. In 2005, that added up to $10.7 billion. Holey Moley!

Naturally, as economic pessimism grabs us and ties us in knots, the need for optimistic relief only escalates. In February of this year, in just one week, $79.5 million worth of lottery tickets were sold across the country. OMG! That’s a whopping amount of optimism, don’t you think? Perhaps lottery as entertainment has morphed into lottery as last resort. Sad.

David Just, an associate professor of economics at Cornell University has been studying lottery sales in the U.S. over the last decade. He and his team found a strong correlation between poverty rates and lottery ticket sales. It seems lower-income earners buy almost twice as many tickets. And as people feel less in control of their own destinies, we are more willing to throw over good old fashion common sense in favour of luck and chance.

Lottery sellers and casino operators say they are in the business of “entertainment.” But the cost of this “entertainment” far exceeds most people’s budgets.  And if every one of those $79.5 million worth of tickets sold in one week last February was money that could be spared, I’d say, hey, it’s your money, dream on. But with record debt, savings lower than a snake’s belly, and unemployment on the rise, I warrant that some of that money came from people who could ill afford it.

I’m getting off my soap box now. I will leave you with this thought:

Spend $20 a week on lottery tickets from age 25 until you retire, and you’ll have blown $41,600 of money that could have been invested.

Put that money in an RRSP, earn just a 5% return on average, and you’ll have a total of $132,744.76.

So, do you want to dream away $41,600, or would you rather have more than three times that when the time comes to hang up your spurs?

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52 Responses to “A Lottery Life”

  1. I am happy that I was raised in a home that didn’t contribute to the profits of GBE’s and that I myself don’t contribute to them either. I can’t say the though of winning the lottery isn’t enticing at times but knowing that if I use my money wisely I WILL be debt free is a much more exciting thought.

  2. Ah yes – the perpetual dream. I love to imagine how life could be if I had millions. What a nice state of mind to be in.

    We had a lottery pool at work where we’d each put in so much money per month and buy up a batch of tickets. I did this for 2 yrs to the tune of $180, winning only more tickets – no cash. Then I stopped dreaming and started putting more funds into my high interest savings account and paying off debts. I still dream from time to time, but pour more of my time/energy into areas where I have more control.

  3. Here’s the other way of maybe thinking about it: My chances of winning are VERY close to zero. What’s 20 times zero? Buying multiple tickets, therefore, pretty much increases your chances by zero.

    So buy one ticket if you must. Or have the entire pool of people contribute a few cents toward one ticket. You have pretty much the same chance of winning: 1 in billions vs 20 in billions.

  4. I’m a scratch ticket girl! I’ll spend maybe $10-20 in a year on tickets though – I buy a bingo and run with it until my ticket luck dries up. I definitely don’t anticipate winning a jackpot though – I’m not that lucky; I’m better off planning for my financial success than I am winning it! 😛

    Sometimes my boyfriend and I play the “if I won” game, but it always returns to the same things – buy a home (and pay off family homes), travel for a year (or two), invest and live off interest, donate, volunteer to stay busy. Our lifestyle doesn’t have us living a life of excess – we’re happy to go for bike rides on the weekend (and the only debt is my student loan), so the lottery isn’t really a necessity for us to live happily.

  5. As hard as it is to win the 6/49 lottery the chances are better then the one in ten billion that you make it out to be. The chances are in fact one in 13,983,816 to match all six numbers for the lotto 6/49 (which is a Canadian lottery not a North American lottery by the way).

    Your mathmatical error was due to forgetting that it doesn’t matter what order the numbers are drawn in. If the numbers for winning the 6/49 were 1,2,3,4,5,6 then they could have been drawn in the order 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 6,5,4,3,2,1 or 1,6,2,5,3,4 or etc. for a total number of 720 different ways.

    Here is the proper calculation:
    (49*48*47*46*45*44) / (6*5*4*3*2*1)
    = 10,068,347,520 / 720
    = 13,983,816

    Also, you can take a look at http://www.olg.ca/lotteries/games/howtoplay.do?game=lotto649 for the odds of winning the 6/49.

  6. avatar Michael Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Just an FYI that your chances of winning the lottery is a lot better that 10 billion (still not good though). The formula is 49C6 (49 choose 6) which is the math you are showing here Gail but you forgot one important part, you take your 49*48*47…. and divide by 6! (6*5*4*3*2*1) to take into account the fact that the order of the numbers to not matter (ie, drawing 1, 2, 3 ,4 ,5 ,6 is the same as drawing 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1).

    Check any of the lottery websites and you will see the odds are actually 1 in 13,983,816 (http://www.alc.ca/English/ALCProducts/JackpotsDraws/Lotto649/HowToPlay/).

    Does not change the fact that this is still just a stupid tax.

  7. avatar Elizabeth Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 8:47 am

    We have a lottery pool at work which I do participate in …however I’m not holding my breath (to win). It would be nice, but a long shot for sure.

    The lotto 649 is only in Canada, not North America, and the odds (according to the website) are 1 in 14 million (approx). Yes, I have better odds of getting striked by lightening. I know several winners of this lottery (both small and large prize amounts) and I must say that the smaller prize winners have a better understanding of what to do with the money than the people who won the large prize amount. The one large prize winner I know is nearly broke because he gave away alot of money to friends and family, did quite a bit of travelling, played the lottery and casino even more so than before…the downfall of his wealth.

    I can afford the lottery pool at work and figure if we win, it will only be better for me (I’ll pay off my mortgage early).

  8. avatar Michael Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 8:47 am

    LOL, sorry for the repeat post, looks like Connor is a faster typer 🙂

  9. I know 2 families that have won the lottery in the past 5 years…and I still don’t buy tickets. It’s not about the money, it’s about completely forgetting. Plus, my father always talked to us as if we were going to win when I was a child, and I actually believed him. Lottery tickets don’t bother me it’s the casino’s. I can’t imagine being addicted to a slot machine or table. In high school a kid did a presentation on how he blew his college fund at the casino and subsequently dropped out of high school the previous year. It was so sad how he described all the people riding the bus every morning together, the depends they wore so they wouldn’t lose their machine etc. My husband often askes to go but I tell him that we might as well light our money on fire and watch it burn for date night.

  10. I heard the lottery more aptly called “a tax on the poor.”

  11. Thanks Connor and Michael for clarifying the lottery odds. I figured someone would jump in before me to correct the mathematical error. Good job in explaining too. But yes, 1 in 14 million, not 1 in 10 billion. If it was 1 in 10 billion, you’d see far fewer winners, and the jackpot would consistently be higher than 2 million.

  12. My parents, my father in particular, are lottery fiends. They always buy lottery tickets. My dad always has a wad of scratch tickets. I can remember from a young age sitting on my dad’s lap and helping him pick his numbers, it was one of the few things we did, just the two of us. Kinda sad, actually.

    Surprisingly enough, I didn’t pick up the lottery “bug” (my brother has it too). I’ve always had more important things to spend my money on.

  13. I’m glad that someone else pointed out the math error, though as a numbers guy I have to point out that realistically, the odds of 1 in 14 million and 1 in 10 Billion are, for all intents and purposes, the same —- just one is SLIGHTLY less astronomical than the other.

    I don’t buy lotto 6/49 except with my esso extra points (800 points for $5 worth of tickets, and Iget about 80 points per fillup). I do however occasionalyl buy hospital lottery tickets for $100. I consider the math to be much more favourable — as a draw it’s a certainty someone will win, and the odds are typically more like 1:90,000 for a million dollar prize which I find much more palatable, though that’s still 89,999 losers for one 1 winner.

  14. avatar Danny Jellis Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 10:12 am

    It can be just as bad if you WIN the lottery. Greed rears its ugly head. There was a documentary going the rounds about lottery winners and the sorry states they were in a few years after they won big bucks.

    In my case I won the Princess Margaret Lottery with a “friend”. Now he is suing me because he wants 100% of the proceeds PLUS $100,000.00 as punitive damages as he says I harassed him in trying to get my share. So far the WIN has cost me nearly 50 thousand dollars and I have yet to see a penny of the winnings. Be careful what you wish for!

  15. When I was a kid, we had neighbours who won $500,000. Even though we know how slim the odds are, when financial reward is that tangible (i.e. next door!!) it’s hard to resist playing!! Luckily I never spent that much ($2/wk) and eventually got bored and gave up…

  16. Danny–I’m sorry for what your friend is doing. I think it’s terrible that people are willing to throw away friendship in the name of $$.

    This post SO speaks to me, I have regular, detailied fantasies of what I would do with all my winnings should I win, right down to what I’d buy for each of my friends, how much I would give to the SPCA, Paws, Cancer Society, everything. I’m sure my odds might be better if I were to buy a ticket more than 4 times a year, though, lol. Yet still, I fantasize…

    Slightly off topic…but it occurred to me a while ago that the reason I might be so hung up on winning the Big One is because it’s the one thing I can still have? I’m not beautiful, young, or sexy, I have no exceptional talent, or passion about a particular thing….in short, I can’t do anything to change these things, but money the one thing I still have a bat’s chance of getting, regardless of my other shortcomings. Gotta have a dream to cling to.

    Just a thought.

  17. I also have friends who are lottery, bingo and gambling fiends. I play one line of numbers consistently on 649 and that’s my gambling habit. My dh and I go to CasinoRama a 3-4 times a year for concerts, however not one penny is spent gambling. On the other hand – I have friends who will request a ride with us on concert night. Do they attend the concert? Absolutely not. They gamble like mad until we are ready to go home. How sad…

  18. My dad always called it “the idiot tax,” and obviously it deserves teh name. When I worked at a gas station there were people who spent about twenty dollars A DAY between the 6/49 and scratch tickets. Absolutely mind boggling. These same people who were wasting their money on receipt paper were, without fail, the first to complain to us when the gas prices rose because they apparently couldn’t afford to keep paying those prices.

  19. avatar Meredith Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I have never been very much into playing lotteries; however, I can see why people do. While it is a game of chance, I would say that for some people, it could be the thing that a particular person does for themselves. The “one thing for me” approach, like for others going for a manicure, or buying a book, or even grabbing that coffee every morning. These things add up. A manicure is not cheap, nor is a book, nor is a coffee bought every day. They are almost the first things to go when someone is in financial trouble.

    Yes, the money could be used eslewhere, it always could– a person could have done their nails at home, grabbed that book at library or made the coffee before leaving the house. Theywould have saved the money and the odds are better.

    However, its a choice of where people spend their money. I agree that some things are not considered wise investments for the most part but prehaps thats their moment for a bit of “me time”.

  20. I would never buy a ticket myself, but get this…… My best friend’s husband bought one ticket, one time, and won 3.9 million a couple years back on the 649. They built a beautiful house and lost some in the stock market….

  21. avatar Lexi in Victoria Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    It’s funny, my husband and I were talking about this just the other day. My husband buys the odd lottery ticket so that he “has a reason to dream”. We were talking about what we would do if we won the lottery and it struck me that this would be a terrific way to define our direction in life.

    If we start with the concept “If I won the lottery, this is what my life would look like:” and then make a huge list. Then take this list, prioritize it, and start making steps toward it. I’m not just talking about bucket list stuff (travel, scuba diving, etc), it is also about making trips to see our family a given number of times a year, where we want to live, the kind of car we drive, and so much more. Then we will be able to plan for what is most important and understand what we were giving up is less important. With the whole picture in mind, this will make budgeting so much easier.

    This has been the missing piece of the puzzle. We’re going to sit down and start it this weekend. It will be a pretty full life, I think.

  22. avatar Suzanne Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Thought provoking post, as usual. I am a 649 ticket buyer and have been for over 20 years. August 17th, 1991, I won $100,000 on ‘The Plus” (now the Extra) – odds were 1 in 14 million then too. The interesting thing is that back then, before my employer went bankrupt, that equated to three years gross income. Second cousins twice removed got asked how much money I shared with them!!! The requests for donations, pre-purchasing funeral plots, etc, were unbelievable. As a result of my employer’s bankruptcy, my husband and I both lost our jobs, holiday pay, etc, and almost lost our house in the process. So that $100K win did not go far, throw in a blown motor in a semi ($10K) and three growing children. It was an experience I would love to repeat, since I no longer have the husband who wanted ‘toys’, but at the same time, I can not believe the number of people who thought that the amount was so huge that I was set for life with it!! On another track, not one poster here sees the upside of the lottery system. Our local Sports, Culture and Leisure programs are mostly funded by lottery proceeds. Imagine if your taxes were to rise yet again to ensure that the local rink stayed open for children’s hockey. Lotteries are in essence a ‘tax’, but they make a person feel like they are potentially going to get something in return – that dream of a ‘better’ life. The Hospital lotteries have a much better odds of winning chance. You know how many prizes, and they have a set number of tickets to sell. On the down side, I went to school with a young man who’s father spent his last $100 on a ticket, won the house, and couldn’t afford to live in it!!! And you have to for at least a year before you can sell it!! Last, but not least, I work in a casino. Our net profit last year was a ridiculous amount of money, but over 50% of that goes back into the community as well; scholarships, charitable donations, community funding, etc. The sad note is that people are inherently greedy. They are not happy to leave with $20K in winnings. They will come back and try to get more, and end up leaving $7 or 8K the next time they come. I have seen men lie to their wives about where they are (on the phone), boyfriends use their girlfriend’s share of the rent money, and the absolute worst – someone holding a cardboard sign asking for donations because of homelessness outside the grocery store, then coming to play cards – and being seen by more than one person who ‘donated’!! Sadly, I have also heard the comment “there is nothing else to do in this town” but come to the casino. ???? Excuse me, but you are not looking in the right place then. Entertainment is what you make it. Unfortunately, slot machines are just video games for grown ups, and have you looked into the glazed eyes of a youngster glued to his game lately?? I see the same thing daily. On a funny note, I took my elderly mother to a casino (she absolutely hates gambling of any kind), and she wanted to know why all those people were chained to their machine? On questioning her question, she noticed that the players had cords/strings clipped to their clothes/purses and attached to the machines (player’s club cards). I flippantly told her that was so they couldn’t get away!! Until more people find Gail, and a future of their own making, there will be no reason for Casinos and lottery corporations to close their doors – but look at all the people your ‘stupid tax’ employs….

  23. I was a cashier at a place that sold lottery tickets for a while in college, there were people that consistantly came in twice a week and spent nearly $100 each draw for the 6/49. I asked one guy if it was for a pool, and he looked very annoyed at me and said it was just him and his mom. Then he came in with a big winner (I think it was 5 and the bonus), it was a $79,000 winner! I was jumping up and down all excited that he finally got something and the man was actually angry!!!! “That won’t even cover my mortgage” he fumed, he was all upset that all this money he had “invested” over the years wouldn’t pay off one bill. Oh man, that taught me a lesson! If he had taken that almost $200/week and invested it????? The math is staggering to me, all down the drain! (And yes he kept playing the numbers after the “big” win)

    That being said, your odds are zero if you have NO ticket, and since I love the DREAM of the win, I do have one number that I play. I buy 10 draws (draws not sets of number) at once and then have 5 weeks to wistfully fantasize about all the good stuff I would do…. buy my mom a decent place, share with family and dear friends (being rich by yourself would be boring), make a big contribution to some worthy causes and live on an eco-friendly farm for the rest of my days…. a very nice dream indeed, but I’m not counting on it! I am making the less expensive dreams come true the old fashioned way, through determination and focused work!

  24. I have never had any interest in gambling or lotteries, but my SO buys tickets twice a week. He often goes over the details of what he would do when he wins the lottery. I think he’s nuts, but he makes enough money that it’s just harmless entertainment for him. I prefer not to torture myself dreaming of things that will never happen and focus on what I can do here and now to improve my future financial situation concretely.

  25. avatar Rebecca Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    If that $2 for a 6/49 ticket buys some nice daydreams and a minuscule chance to win the lottery, it’s not fundamentally any worse than spending it at a restaurant. Yet I don’t here that called an “idiot tax”. So long as it’s not coming out of my entertainment budget instead of my investment budget, I don’t think it matters. I play every few months, when the pot is big enough for a really good daydream 🙂

  26. avatar Melaniesd Says:
    June 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Danny, I hope your situation improves and this works out to your favour or atleast your half. It’s so sad how often people put money before family & friends.

    My Dh & I rarely buy lotto tickets. We just feel it’s a waste of money for us. Occassionally we buy one for fun, but not regularly.
    I see my grandparents & my aunt spend so much money each week on 6/49 & scratch tickets. I think it’s sad that tickets are there entertainment, but who am I to judge if they wish to spend their money on tickets? They are responsible people and they enjoy scratching! lol!

    On the other side, my other grandmother regularly plays the machines. It saddens me how much these machines have taken over her life. She’d never admit it! “Oh no, I just put a dollar or two in – that’s all”.
    She lives off a reasonable amount each month that should leave her over $600/mth to spend as she wishes. She wastes it on the machines though and then tries to play it off that she’s so poor and broke and is always looking to “borrow” money. I would be happy to help her with money if I had it, and if she ACTUALLY needed it, but I won’t support her ‘habit’. These machines robbed her other grandchildren of a grandmother, because the machines come first. They will never get to know the grandmother that I once had. She doesn’t see this of course.

    Suzanne, it sounds like your win was good timing for your family. It’s too bad it didn’t go further for you. Thank you for pointing out the different ways the “lotto tax” is spent. You make a good point.

  27. I knew someone who once won a million on Wintario (or something like that). It was bitter-sweet as he had just lost his partner to an illness. He wanted to fly home to Trinidad to visit his mom, but she then called to say not to come, as his many distant relatives (most he never met) were now camping out on her front lawn waiting for their rich relative to show up and hand out money. I believe he ended up flying here here to Toronto. Then he had ‘friends’ who ‘borrowed’ money, then disappear. He bought a small home to renovate, and it took it all. It came and went quite fast.

    Another friend of mine worked at a major bank, in an area which helped people with larger accounts. They had one guy who had won a mega amount and banked it. Then he came in one day demanding a large sum from his account. They asked him what it was for, and he angerly replied that he found the perfect building to BUY so that he could turn into into a nightclub – which was a dream of his. He was ticked that they were asking what he wanted to do with HIS money. They sat him down and asked all the proper questions. Where is the building? Is the zoning ok for ‘clubs’? etc. He went blank and after some convincing, he agreed to check into all of these questions before paying for this building. They saved his rear end that day.. it was NOT in the right zoning, and he would’ve been stuck with a building that was no longer fit to be used even as a warehouse on poor property!! He was very grateful, but it shows that IF you do win big… be very cautious as to what your next steps are, or you may soon find yourself without a dime.

    I play each week, but for me it’s Entertainment, and I certainly do not spend big bucks like I’ve seen others do. My brother, likes to say that he ‘won 2 bucks’ when we talk about it, as he does not play (unless it’s a big jackpot, and buys one ticket). lol

    Danny – I’ve heard similar horror stories… I would hope your name was alos on the ticket, but by the sounds of it, it wasn’t. I pray that everything works out for you – what a hassel. How about that lady in the US a few years ago.. she went in on a big lotto with people at work… they all signed a paper saying that what was purchased by her was shared by them all. HER own husband bought his own ticket for the couple…and when HE won on their own ticket, the people at her work sued HER for part of the winnings, claiming that since *she* bought the ticket.. it was to be shared by all of them. What?? sheesh…. humanity.. thy name can be greed. 🙁

  28. I like playing the lottery. It IS a gamble but someone does win and as Susanne wrote the money from the lotteries does go to many worthy causes. In fact my husband, over the past 25 years, has worked with 3 lottery winners and one of them won twice. He has also worked with a man who was struck by lighting twice and a conservation officer who holds the Yukon record for encounters with psycho moose. (mooses?) We look upon playing the lottery as entertainment not as an investment strategy. If we win we win. If not we will have had a small thrill. And we would never bet the farm. Those who spend large sums of money every week are deluding themselves. We buy a $2 lottery ticket every week so in a year we spend $104. Fairly cheap entertainment. And I did win once. Thirty years ago the second lottery ticket I ever purchased won me $100. If I never win again that win was enough. I won two days before my husbands birthday at a time when are bills were paid but we were completely broke and there was absolutely no chance of buying him a gift.

  29. I’m really amazed at all the people here who are defending lottery ticket spending! $2 for a daydream? Really? You need to spend $2 to do that? How about daydreaming about what you’ll do with that $2 once you’ve accumulated enough $2 deposits to ACTUALLY spend it on something awesome? Also, there are SO MANY free contests to enter out there…just check out the websites of your favourite Canadian magazines or television networks! You can daydream about what you could do if you sold the GE appliance package you might win, or pocket the money you would have otherwise spent in gifts and clothes and furniutre at Sears when you win their $500 gift card. And that’s FREE entertainment.

    Here’s a calculator that will help you see how even a very small weekly savings deposit can add up over time: http://www.ingdirect.ca/en/tools/calcs/TFSA_ISA_Calculator.html Imagine throwing an extra eight bucks in there every now and then when you bring the bottles and milk jugs to the depot and you can see the savings grow even faster! Let’s say you throw $100 in there just to open the account. Now, throw in there $6 a week (pretty modest compared to a lot of lottery spenders I’ve seen), and in five years you have $1,721.04 at the interest rate ING Direct offers! In the grand scheme of things that might not be much, but it’s enough to buy yourself an awesome new TV, or a fantastic new laundry set, or a new computer, or a few nights in a fancy hotel with room service (and imagine the memories you and your partner could look back on with that one) or or or…

    My grandmother has spent AT LEAST that amount on lottery tickets for as long as I can remember (I’m 24 now), and the most she’s ever won is $10. I can already hear you saying “$10 on what’s probably a $2 ticket? Not bad! You earned five times what you spent!” Except that she’s already blown at least $20 in the last two weeks, so she’s still coming up short.

    Even as entertainment spending…come on. What do you have to show for it? Receipt paper. At least if you spent that $6 to buy yourself some Starbucks you can say you had a tasty treat. Or you could spend it on iTunes or similar music stores and get some songs or TV episodes you can enjoy again and again and again. Why not do that and do your daydreaming for free?

    And remember that it’s called “the gambler’s fallacy” to believe that you’re getting closer and closer to your winning ticket with each ticket you buy. Every single ticket is likely to be a losing one. Your odds DO NOT INCREASE with each one you buy individually.

    If you feel you MUST buy lottery tickets to do the sort of daydreaming you want to do, then how about saving your shekels until the local hospital home lotteries come about? Your odds of winning are usually A LOT better with those.

  30. avatar Rebecca Says:
    June 17, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Jenna’s above post is a perfect example of the ugly side of money management, i.e. when you start to judge everyone else for every purchase they make that you disapprove of.

  31. avatar Maureen Says:
    June 17, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Jenna

    With a lottery ticket I get a small thrill and end up creating some scrap receipt paper. With a Starbucks coffee you get a tasty treat and end up creating some wet toilet paper. Six of one. Ha! The fun is in the choice and we all choose to spend our fun money in different ways.

    And Sweety, I actually do buy lottery tickets for hospital and other organization fund raising events but for that I have a special column in my budget – “Donations”. I didn’t win a thing on the last hospital lottery but I did win big because we were able to raise enough to buy a 129 slice CAT scan so now I can stay home instead of having to fly to Vancouver every five minutes and as an added bonus – we are saving the planet by lowering our carbon foot print and saving money by lowering the cost of health care. Sounds like a win win to me.

  32. avatar Melissa Says:
    June 17, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I am amazed I just spend the last two years in high interest debt and couldnt afford to get to the store to buy the damn tickets and amazed that people spend that much money on just that… a dream…

  33. avatar Melissa Says:
    June 17, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    and not to mention the people that win the lottery buy extravagant homes and cars that when the winnings are gone cant afford and declare bankruptcy… or end up so greedy they are miserable… I think about it all the time what I would do with the winnings, but i never buy the tickets… so its innocent dreaming… LOL

  34. Good grief!!
    Are we really trying to rein in our spending so much that a damn $2 ticket can raise so much bile?!?!
    The whole point of budgeting is not to become so miserly you can’t cough up a sou for some innocent fun., but rather to have some money you can spend on a lottery ticket, hot dog, hot fudge sundae or the Globe and Mail while still saving for a rainy day.
    Gail is not advocating we all become a bunch of Scrooge McDucks.
    You can’t take it with you…
    Some people need to get off their high (and cheap) horse.
    Jenna, you should relax.

  35. avatar Elizabeth Says:
    June 18, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I agree with quite a few comments above .. you shouldn’t be miserly with your money .. just carefully smart. I understand if one doesn’t believe in the 649/Super 7 lottery and that’s fine. BUT as for the hospital lotteries, READ THE FINE PRINT…when it says 1 in 4 odds, that’s just for the first prize. The ticket pulled gets put back into the drum and the odds then change. ALL tickets drawn get put back into the drum.

    I have purchased hospital tickets but not because I want to win…because I believe in the cause.

    AND hey, to those non-believers, what’s it to you what my dreams are? It’s my money buying the ticket, and it’s my dream, so leave it alone.

    Alos…if you want to put your name into those “free ” contests, knock yourself out. Guess how you start getting those telemarketing calls?? you guessed it, most of the time your name/address/phone number ends up on a call sheet.

  36. I know buying lotto tix is silly and will never lead to riches for 99.99% of the population, but man it’s depressing when you trying to do the right thing and save cash in a savings account. I have a significant 5 figure amount in a “high interest” savings account that pays me all of $20 a month in interest. Woohoo… GICs are no better unless you lock in for years, and even bonds are risky in these markets. Anyway, will continue to plug away, interest rates have to go up sometime…

  37. Lexi in Victoria wrote “We were talking about what we would do if we won the lottery and it struck me that this would be a terrific way to define our direction in life. If we start with the concept “If I won the lottery, this is what my life would look like:” and then make a huge list. Then take this list, prioritize it, and start making steps toward it. ”

    I think this is a great idea and think that great minds think alike. Ha! I used to daydream about winning the lottery and that is all it was – a daydream. I never thought about putting those dreams into action without the lottery win. My thoughts were never about diamonds or big houses or fancy cars or owning a private jet. Mechanical horsepower does not interest me but I would happily own 1000 horses. Since I was very young I have dreamed about open a riding therapy center for disabled children and adults but with the way we managed our money I knew that was never going to happen. So all I had was the lottery daydream. Or so I thought. Once we got “Gailed” I suddenly found that there was some actual spare cash. At first I thought this meant we could spend again but then it occurred to me that maybe this was my daydream coming true. If I couldn’t own a riding therapy center I could contribute to one. So that is what I am doing. Still buying the lottery ticket and keeping the big dream alive but very happy with this redefinition of it.

  38. I stumbled upon this site from looking over Google and just wanted to say thank you for this informative article on lottery games. Thank you again!

  39. This is good if lottery ticket gives you cheap entertainment and for a 1$ you can get a week of dreaming. But it is not good if dreaming is all you’re doing and the lottery is the big plan for “financial freedom” that is needed. Lottery is more about fun and entartainment yourself.

  40. So… I’m hunting around for information, but what happens if you DO WIN the lottery? My husband just won 100k, and after paying down all of our debt, we have a little bit left over. What is the best option for saving/investing the rest?

  41. Me and my 4 friends tried the lottery in my country 4 years ago the pot then was around 100million around $2million+ dollars when converted now. The amazing thing is my friend did won there were 2 winners at the time so he received half. Remembering it back then we have an agreement that whoever win mist give the 4of us 1.2million each around $25000+, me and my other 3 friends did not receive any from our friend who won, but i was indeed hoping he would atleast give us something but we did not hold any grudge on him. We usually hang out every week and play games and act like we did in high school but came a time that he would rarely visit us until not at all we were aware that he came has a new group of friends to hang out with. When he did visit us he would act like a total douche showing off everything he had comapring what we have from what he got be it eyeglasses, phone, tablets laptop etc. he also become one of those people who like going into nightclub and party everyday. We tried to talk to him about his sudden change in lifestyle that it could be detrimental in the long run but brushed us off. Me and my 3 friend would sometimes talk about his new lifestyle with his new friends then few months later her mother called us tegarding his behavior we just learned that he haven’t told her that he won the lottery , in our country info about winners are not released to the piblic, so we tried to talk to him like we did before but this time he got infuriated saying that we are only after the $25000 dollars that was promised then he ran off. Less than a year passed when our friend have started visiting us again few times a month then frequently we acted like nothing happened until one day he told us that he blew the million dollars we asked him how did he blew (pun intended) he told us he got less than $300000. He feel bad considering how he wasted the 700k in a year and few months. At that time i really want to tell him “we told you so” but hearing him opening to us once again made me hold my words. One of my friend whose father has a business as a hardware supplier asked if he wants to invest some of the amount of the money he has to buy equipment since his father already won the bidding. I referred him to an accountant my friend who has mutual funds asked him to join his group Long story short my friend was able to get a hold on his finances and me and my other friends got $25000.

  42. I know 2 families that have won the lottery in the past 5 years…and I still don’t buy tickets. It’s not about the money, it’s about completely forgetting. Plus, my father always talked to us as if we were going to win when I was a child, and I actually believed him. Lottery tickets don’t bother me it’s the casino’s. I can’t imagine being addicted to a slot machine or table. In high school a kid did a presentation on how he blew his college fund at the casino and subsequently dropped out of high school the previous year. It was so sad how he described all the people riding the bus every morning together, the depends they wore so they wouldn’t lose their machine etc. My husband often askes to go but I tell him that we might as well light our money on fire and watch it burn for date night.

  43. avatar Jacqueline Says:
    November 6, 2015 at 12:53 am

    There are two identical messages posted by two different people, with one posted in 2009 and one posted in 2015. It appears that these posts were fabricated. How many of the posts are actually authentic responses by ‘real’ people? It doesn’t really matter because the posts have been interesting to read regardless, but I amjscki curious why the posts would need to be ‘made up’.

  44. nice blog thanks for sharing this information

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  52. Nearly all the contests that I have won, costed me nothing at all. It was simply a daily entry that I had to enter online. It’s how I won my trip to Rome.

    I am not a worldwide traveler, but my trip to Rome changed that. I now want to travel to
    Europe mostly. But there’s a problem. It’s a lack of money.

    If you add the fact that I have a hearing disability in both ears, this diminish my chances of being employed and earning good money that would allow me to travel. I think the government should be ashamed of itself for how people with a disability are treated in Canada. I am NOT interested in spending the rest of my life as a vegetable, and not traveling at all.

    The issue about disability has to change to improve people’s economic circumstances. There’s a lots of lies and I reported past employers to the Human Rights Commission for bullying, harassment and discrimination.

    So I have tickets in both the Princess Margaret and Heart & Stroke lotteries, and hopefully I will win big. I asked Jesus to win the trip to Rome, that’s how I was the winner.

    Odds of winning these lotteries are much better than the odds of winning the 6/49. In fact, I did had 5 numbers right a long time ago on the 6/49, and I only got $100. I rarely buy a ticket.

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