Dec 06 2010

I don’t like those odds

Reader Kyle sent me a link to a lotto simulator. You choose five numbers and a mega ball number, select how many games you want to play (up to 1,000x) and play.

It tells you your “winnings,” how much you spent, and overall stats of all players.

While it’s true that someone will probably hit it big, just about everyone else comes out way behind. In the several games that I’ve played, I’ve spent $1,000 each time and the most I’ve won is $250. Whoop dee do.

Playing the lottery is rarely worth it. According to these odds, my chance of winning a mere $2 on a ticket is 1:75. Overall odds of winning something are slightly better at 1:39.

I don’t like those odds.

When the Powerball gets huge, some of Shane’s coworkers throw in $5 each or so, and they try and strike it rich. That’s fine. $5 once in awhile is no big deal.

But some people buy tickets for almost every drawing.

Rather than do that, I like Kyle’s suggestion of just putting that money in a high-interest savings account instead. That’s a guaranteed return on your money, and I think a guarantee is better than a minute chance of winning the jackpot.

What are your thoughts on the lottery?



5 Responses to “I don’t like those odds”

  1. As a general rule, I think the lottery is a waste of my money so I don’t buy it. We have an office pool at work when the pot gets big; I usually pass it up and toss a few bucks into the back of my desk drawer instead. When I clean it out, there’s about $20 in there and I treat myself to a little something like a lunch out. That said, I certainly would love to have a box of lottery winnings drop from the sky but I’m not expecting it to happen : )
    Trixie´s last post ..Frugal Friday- Buy Another Turkey- or Ham

  2. I couldn’t agree more with you. The odds of winning the lottery are so little. Why not invest in something better. Even if you don’t put it in a savings account even a piggy bank or change jar would be more valuable place to put it in than a lottery ticket. I am sorry to sound pessimistic but from my personal experience and from knowing people who purchase lottery tickets on a regular basis and never win even a reasonable amount of money, I just don’t believe in those odds either.

  3. I personally have never understood what motivates people to play. To me, it seems like tossing your money in the wind knowing that there’s a very slim chance you’ll be able to catch any or all of it before it blows away. Besides, in this day and age of sue happiness, I’m sure just as soon as I won I’d be sued for accidentally giving someone the stink eye.

  4. To me the lottery is a voluntary tax. Why pay more taxes than needed. It would be neat to do the math for someone who purchases $5 a week invested over the long haul and see what they might have at retirement.

  5. I worked at a grocery store in high school that had a lottery machine. This was back when food stamps were still more like Monopoly money than a credit card. People would buy a 25cent pack of gum with $1 food stamp money and get the 75cents back (change is change – not food stamp money). They’d come through a few different lines until they had enough to play their lottery numbers or buy some scratch offs. Seeing this was enough to stear me from every participating…

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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