Is Winning the Lottery Part of Your Financial Plan?
By Julie Jaggernath
When you hear that the lotto jackpot is bigger than usual, do you buy an extra ticket? Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t normally buy lotto tickets, but when the jackpot is that big, it’s hard not to wonder what it would feel like to win that much money. Could it be a dream come true?
How Much Does $50 Million Really Buy?
Let’s say you did win $50 million - what could you actually buy with that much money?
- A cool $50 million would buy you and 160 of your closest friends a fancy new Ferrari.
- You could also buy 400,000 liters of champagne, more than enough to fill a few backyard swimming pools.
- If you left $50 million in your chequing account, earning just a minimal amount of interest, you would bring home $375,000 a year!
The possibilities are endless, so it isn’t surprising that so many people religiously fork over $5.00 or more each week for a chance at financial freedom.
What Are the Odds of Winning the Lottery?
The upside of playing the lottery is obvious, but what about the downside? As they say, the house always wins and you pay to play, so what are your chances of actually winning big?
Sure, we hear that it’s more likely that we’ll get struck by lightning than win the jackpot, but how many people really get struck by lightning . . . the idea is so abstract that we dismiss it altogether. In case you’re curious, the odds of getting struck by lightning are actually pretty good - about 1 in 3,000,000.
Even if you think that you know all of the stats, and that your lucky numbers will do it for you next time, consider this one last story to see how your lucky numbers stack up and if banking on a win is a sound financial strategy!
The Odds Are 1 in How Many?? If This Doesn't Convince You, Not Much Will!
Imagine standing in Vancouver, BC ready to go on a trip; your final destination is Winnipeg, Manitoba. Instead of going by car or plane as most people would, you are going to walk. And the walk will take you, non-stop, about 20 days to complete.
The path before you is lined with millions of loonies, carefully placed one beside the other in a long line. Every coin is placed heads-up . . . except one. It's flipped over, tails side up.
As you walk the long road between Vancouver and Winnipeg, WITHOUT LOOKING, you will randomly reach down and pick up the single loonie that is out of place, the only one that is tails side up. How likely do you think it is that you could actually perform this feat?
Your chances of picking up the right loonie are about 1 in 86,000,000 – which are almost the exact same odds as winning the Lotto Max jackpot for $50 million when demand is at its peak (like it was in June 2010 when I first heard this analogy).
Dreaming Isn't the Problem
So back to those lucky numbers you thought you had . . . spending a couple of bucks every once in a while and allowing yourself to dream isn’t the problem. Banking on winning the jackpot to balance your budget, pay off debt or enjoy retirement is a plan that’s seriously worth abandoning.
In fact, you’d be further ahead if you took your $5 each week and paid it towards what you owe on your credit cards. Or saved it towards a dream get-away. The possibilities really are endless when you create you own pot of gold!