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How to Win in Life without Winning the Lottery

Winning the lottery is not your path to retirement and financial freedom. Learn how to shift your mindset to help you on your road to financial wellness.

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How to Win in Life without Winning the LotteryI will openly admit I have played the lottery many times. Sometimes the lottery tickets yield a $2 win, but most of the time they aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. I don’t play the lottery regularly but there are occasions like billion-dollar jackpots when I will opt to buy a ticket and skip my cup of coffee.

Let me get this out of the way. The chance of winning the lottery is significantly lower than drowning in water and getting hit by lightning at the same time. Odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 292 million and with Mega Millions, it’s 1 in 252 million.

We all know this. We also know that someone will eventually win. And you have to be in it to win it.

A dollar and a dream!

Isn’t that the promise of the lottery? But why do we still choose to play?

It’s a game where a piece of paper carries your hopes and dreams and represent your thoughts and feelings.

I’ve never been against anyone playing the lottery. I do warn people the lottery isn’t their retirement fund. The lottery is not a good reason to skip retirement planning.

There’s a lesson with the lottery I want to share with you. During workshops, I might hand out scratch-off tickets. In a group of 40 people, I once gave $1 scratch-off tickets. Surprise, no one won. I did buy those tickets so I was out 40 bucks.

What was the lesson behind the exercise?

Basically, you can’t leave your financial future to chance.

If there is one thing you should never leave to chance is money in an emergency fund. The money spent on scratch-off tickets could help you start an emergency fund. Or you could invest that dollar using micro-investing apps.

The Emotions Behind Playing and Winning the Lottery

I want to focus this article on helping you understand your motivation and reasoning for playing and dreaming of winning the lottery.

What are your reasons? What are your “whys?”

 

I know why I play the lottery. I don’t expect to win but it reminds me of the importance of my dreams. Every time I’ve played the lottery my life’s vision gets into focus. These lottery tickets are little vision boards with numbers, words, and barcodes.

In one financial session I held, I asked a group of 12 if any had a lottery ticket in their wallets or purses. Five attendees raised their hands. I requested they hold the tickets and close their eyes. I wanted them to envision the life they would be living if that ticket had won.

One by one each ticket holder shared their hopes and dreams. Surely enough each dream was unique to the person. The exercise revealed a common thread, however, that people have dreams about living their best life.

“What was it about these pieces of paper that allowed people to step out of their current situation and begin to dream again?” I asked.

With each person holding their lottery ticket, I went through the process on how to achieve their dream without a lottery win.

Of course, some people had outlandish ideas. Some wanted to buy each family member or friends’ new cars and homes or pay off their debt.

And almost all wanted to help their loved ones and share their luck by giving to others. We know that enjoying life and living better are found in the little things and in the moments we share with loved ones.

Envision your actual dreams not fantasies

The lottery enables you to think big bold ideas but without the right mindset, you’re more apt to make irrational money decisions. You need time to gather your thoughts and control your emotions. Most financial experts agree that you need a break for a few days or weeks after winning the lottery.

Have you wondered why many lottery winners lose their millions in a very short time?

The lottery win isn’t going to change your money mindset and won’t improve your financial behaviors.

Chances are you’re going to spend mindlessly because of your relationship with money. You’re going to experience lifestyle creep and you might even try to keep up with a new set of Joneses.

This will end with you being back in the financial situation you were in prior to the win.

Remember the days you made minimum wage (and barely getting by) and you hoped to one day make double that salary. You might have even said you’d save more, pay off debt, and live more.

What happened when you moved from $30,000 to $50,000 a year?

If you are anything like me or most people, you probably didn’t save or pay off debt. The new salary was spent and you were left confused as to why you still weren’t able to save.

Be aware of how your money beliefs impact your dreams. The first step in realizing your dreams is an awareness of your mindset.

Awareness is a crucial step in the process of shifting your limiting beliefs to that of abundance.

Financial freedom is something you work towards

The problem with playing the lottery is that it supports the unhealthy money mindset. It reinforces a belief that financial freedom can be bought and based purely on luck. But self-made millionaires know best that financial freedom begins with mindset.

You may have heard the coffee example of how little expenses add up. That example is similar to lottery spending. If you spend $10 per week on lottery tickets, that is $520 a year and $5,200 in 10 years before earning interest.

The hard truth is the lottery is not your path to retirement.

It does not get you to financial independence or freedom. It won’t get you on the road to financial wellness either. Other money experts will wave their fingers and tell you absolutely no to lotteries. But I won’t chastise you though. In my view, playing the lottery is similar to spending money on any other discretionary item.

Do you have the money? Are you okay with spending money on a lottery ticket than a movie ticket? It’s a spending choice you make.

I’m also not going to fight our culture surrounding the lottery. I do, however, want to shift your mindset and spark a different type of conversation around your hopes and dreams.

When you do play the lottery and hold that losing ticket in your hand, I want you to close your eyes and envision that dream lifestyle you hope to live. I, then, want you to write them down. Ask yourself why are these things important to you. Cross off things that are fantasies. Circle the dreams that truly resonate with you.

You’ve now begun the work of creating your very first vision statement for your life. A very powerful step on the road to financial wellness.

And with wellness, I don’t want to leave out the importance of mental wellbeing. Gambling can be addictive to some and destructive in their lives. If you believe you may need help, I recommend you read how to play responsibly.

Have you played the lottery recently? What are your dreams? Comment below.

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Jason Vitug

Jason is the founder of phroogal, creator of the award winning project Road to Financial Wellness, and author of the bestseller and New York Times reviewed book, You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life.

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4 Comments

  1. I buy at least one lottery ticket per week cause you just never know. You have to play to win but I get what you’re saying about focusing on budgeting. I do budget but I also allocate a dollar for a dream.

  2. I’m more upset that there’s so many people who can’t afford just one or two dollars a day on lottery tickets than the fact that there are people who are addicted to them. I know that for myself I have bought scratch tickets every once in a while lately simply because I’m an extremely over-educated factory maggot ( I would have used the actual word for my job title, but I wanted to keep the vulgarity to a minimum on this post ) who will never get a decent job no matter how hard I work to better myself.

    Don’t get me wrong. I buy them knowing that the odds of them getting me more money than I paid for them is very small, and the possibly of them making me enough money to significantly improve my life is so small it can only be seen in an electron microscope. However, I also realize that my other option is to just accept that I will rot this way and, take your advice save the money so that I can have a whopping $36,000 by the time I am 70 assuming that this hell doesn’t kill me long before then.

    While I agree that trying to win the lottery is pretty futile, and almost everyone that ever does end up actually paying more in tickets than they ever win, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish these anti lottery blogs would give a little more advice than “save the money instead”. Some of us honestly do it because we just don’t have enough coming in for that to be feasible or we are stuck in a job or line of work we hate that much that we can’t wait for that many years to start dreaming.

    1. You’re right it’s about knowing where you stand and actually having a plan. We aren’t against the lottery as you can read from the post but we just want you to have the money conversation with yourself. Sure, it might be okay to throw in a dollar or two towards the lottery but are you throwing in at least 1% into your company 401(k) or contributing to an IRA.

      We’re about achieving dreams not living in fantasy.

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