Is Winning the Lottery Your Back-Up Plan?
I’m not a person who likes to gamble. Having been to Vegas numerous times to visit family and for conferences, my motto is to play it safe. Opting to go to the outlets rather than gambling means that I always leave Vegas with a nice purse and my savings intact. On the other hand, I’m less rational with the lottery. There are times when I consistently buy weekly tickets and I’ve also gone years without playing. But no matter which direction I’m currently leaning, I always buy a couple of tickets when there’s a big jackpot.
Better Chance of Being Struck by Lightning
Lottery fever was at all-time high earlier this year when the Powerball hit a record-shattering $1.6 billion dollars. And this month, the Mega Millions jackpot reached $540 Million. Along with the media hype of a big jackpot always comes the sobering reality that there’s a 1-in-292 million chance of winning. On the other hand, the chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime is only 1-in-12,000. Unless you live here in Florida, the lightening capital of the country, then the odds are much higher. And, it’s interesting to note that your odds of being struck TWICE by lightning is STILL greater than winning the lottery at 1-in-258 million.
So Why Do So Many People Play When a Win is Nearly Impossible?
It’s because there is a chance! Someone wins big every so often and that someone could be you. Over the years I’ve heard many reasons for playing the lottery. “It’s just a couple of dollars.” “I got real close with 4 numbers once.” “Our whole department plays and with so many numbers there’s a good chance we’ll win eventually.” “They use the money to help senior citizens so it’s like a charitable donation” and “It’s fun to think about how I’d spend all that money.”
As I was checking my non-winning lottery tickets again, it occurred to me that millions of people look to the lottery as their back-up plan. But, when you consider the low probability of actually winning, it’s clear that the lottery is not a safety net. So why don’t more people refocus that time and money towards actually changing their future? Whether that’s simply investing a little more every month into a retirement plan, a child's education fund or finding an expert who can help you create a solid financial plan.
Shifting Your Mindset from Dreaming to Planning
Putting the psychological aspects of the lottery aside, shifting focus from dreaming to the reality of actually planning for your ideal future is a big leap. Far too many people get lost in all the challenges that hold them back from reaching their goals. While I don’t have the answers to what the right solution is for everyone, what I do know is that putting a plan together is the first step towards making your dreams come true. So today I won’t be picking up lottery tickets (despite the fact that Powerball is up to $422 million) but instead spending a few minutes with my financial plan and mapping out my goals for the future.
Diana is a content marketing strategist and virtual marketing director specialized in financial services. She has 20 years of marketing expertise, including campaigns for top brands such as Johnson’s Baby and Band-Aid.