Around 11:45 am on Wednesday I did something completely out of character. I played the lottery. Frankly, I blame “FOMO.” An absolutely ridiculous acronym for “Fear of Missing Out.”
It all started when three women in my office began discussing the $400 million Powerball lottery. Within two minutes they had decided to pool some money to buy tickets and suddenly five other women jumped in with their hard-earned dollars. The eight women began fantasizing what they would do with their share of $400 million. I was quick to burst their bubble a bit by dropping in that Uncle Sam would take around 50% of their winnings. After figuring they’d all collect north of $20 million each, everyone began plotting what to do with their winnings. I stared at computer playing out a scenario in which they actually did when the lottery and I hadn’t been willing to stake a measly $2 to win $20 million. So, I reached for my wallet.
What motivates folks to join office pools buying lottery tickets? I’m going to go with #FOMO.
— Broke Millennial (@BrokeMillennial) September 18, 2013
After I forked over my two bucks I began to plot how to spend $20* million (post-tax). Here is my quick breakdown:
- $10 million immediately into savings/investments
- $1 million to pay off the student loans (and other debt) for friends and family (I even had them picked out)
- $2.5 million to buy homes in select cities
- $2 million donated
- $3 million to start my dream business
- $1.5 million accessible cash (part in a savings account)
Needless to say, we were all at work yesterday instead of popping Dom Pérignon.
Perhaps my lack of $20 million today makes me a bit resentful about spending $2 for naught, but I still stand by my statement: Don’t Play the Lottery. True, you won’t win if you don’t play, but you can also waste a lot of money chasing lottery winnings. I can understand how playing the lottery becomes addicting. Soon you’re buying tickets for jackpots whenever you can and scratch-offs in between. The New York State lottery even targets your “FOMO” with the genius tagline of “Hey, You Never Know.”
If playing the lottery is your version of buying the occasional coffeehouse latte, then by all means splurge away. But if you find yourself sinking $10+ a week playing the lottery, you may want to evaluate the ROI. The odds of winning are usually stacked around 1 in 175 million. Your $520 a year could be better spent elsewhere. You also avoid the crushing blow of “losing” 20 million fictional dollars.
How do you feel about playing the lottery? How would you spend $20 million?
*We actually would have won $24.7 million apiece. The jackpot was $223 million after taxes. This was also based on the assumption we’d have the only winning ticket.
Please consider nominating my blog for the 4th annual Plutus Awards! I qualify for Best New Personal Finance Blogger, Best Personal Finance Blog for Young Adults and if I tickle your funny bone, then Most Humorous. Thank you kindly!
LINK LOVE For the Week
- Protecting your wallet from #YOLO, #FOMO and #FONSY by Sarah on Budgets Are $exy – I chuckled to myself when I read this post because it obviously hit home after my rash purchase of a lottery ticket. This post also inspired my using my experience as a frugal find.
- Can Obama Do Anything About the Cost of College? by John over at Frugal Rules – Great break down on Obama’s plan to help the student debt crisis. I’ll keep my opinion close to the vest.
- When was the last time you did something for the first time? By Erin (#2) at Red Debted Stepchild – Well, that lottery ticket counts for me! Erin’s post did cause me to think about always making a conscious effort to try something new, especially while living in a city like New York.
- Part 3: How to Talk to Kids about Money (ages 12-18) by Shannon at The Heavy Purse – I’ve made no secret of how much I love Shannon’s focus on financial literacy. You should really check out her whole series on how to talk money with kids. It really needn’t be a taboo topic.
- And Kid President just for a dose of cuteness and because so many of my loved ones are (or will be) teachers!