I’ve been catching a lot of slack lately from my wife for buying lottery tickets. I spend $3 twice a week for a Mega Millions ($1) and Maryland Multi-Match ($2). Some weeks, I don’t buy them at all, but others I might throw in a few scratch-offs.
What affects when I buy and what types I buy?
The answer: My desperation
When it started
At my last job, I was desperate to be doing something, anything, other than my job. I was sitting at a desk all day with literally nothing to do because of conflicts of interest between my contracting company and the client. I won by having a job close to home and a high salary, but lost because I gained absolutely no skills in the 7 months I was at that job.
The job site had a lottery station downstairs, which provided a distraction from my boring day. I was spending much more then than I am today, and I saw a direct connection between how satisfied I was with my financial situation and my need to buy lottery tickets.
On days that I was less depressed, and even had a rosy outlook on my life, I didn’t even visit the lottery station. Other days weren’t so good. I was hooked on the Bingo scratchoff and Mega Millions tickets. I wanted the lengthy distraction of scratching all those little Bingo numbers of (took me about 15 minutes) and the big payout of the Mega Millions jackpot, all coupled with the other distraction of getting away from my desk and the monotony of my job.
Now, I have a job where I’m appreciated and quite busy. Some weeks, I go without buying any lottery tickets for two reasons: I have to drive to a lottery station on my way home and I have a more healthy outlook on my job, finances and overall life. There’s still bad days when I just want the pain of debt to end quickly, but I’m beginning to limit myself even more in my lottery spending.
I know at $6 per week, I’m set to spend $312 per year. But I’m OK with that. It gets my hopes up, and I’m used to not winning often, so I don’t get as down when my numbers don’t come up in the draw.
And In Summary…
Lottery tickets are my “Lattes” in a way. They are a nice distraction, but with a potential for payoff. I don’t get addicted to things easily, or at all (except for Chinese and Indian buffets), so I’m not worried that I’ll be one of those people dropping $100 or more at each visit (I’ve seen it done and it’s scary). I could easily cut it out of my budget and totally avoid the Beer, Wine and Deli stores and gas stations, but I choose not to.
I don’t care that the odds are against me. They’re against me every day. Will I wake up? Will I get hit by a bus? Will I lose my job? I’ll take those risks, and that 147,000,000 to 1 odd that I’ll become an instant millionaire.