What Playing The Lottery Taught Me About Money

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My wife and I had house guests in town a few weeks ago. After they left, I noticed a lottery BINGO scratch-off ticket had been left in my car. The person it belonged to informed me later that it was worth $5 (the cost of the scratch off).

During my daily travels, I stopped at a nearby convenience store to confirm that the ticket was a winner. Instead of asking for $5, I told the store clerk to give me a $5 BINGO card. After I returned home, I read the directions on the back of the scratch-off to make sure I played the game correctly.

Since there were 8 BINGO cards on the scratch-off, I didn't realize how long it would take to search for 38 numbers (33 in the Caller Card section and 5 Bonus numbers). After about two minutes, my neck began to ache. Also, my eyes began to water because I was staring at the BINGO card (and the small sized numbers) for such a long time. After going through this process, I learned a few things about money:

  • Fast money creates false assumptions - If I had won $50, for example, I wonder if that occurrence would have convinced me to invest in the lottery system again (doubt it). Instead of chasing a quick buck, I get more excited by routine and repetitive index fund or exchange-traded fund purchases and steady growth of our investment portfolio. In the long run, I think I have a better chance of hitting it big by building wealth slow.

  • Every financial decision contains risk - Playing the lottery, paying for a vacation with a credit card, investing for retirement, storing money in a bank, or purchasing higher priced brands versus private label products all have a certain level of financial risk, however, some choices are riskier than others. At the end of the day, it's wiser to make financial decisions that create the best opportunity to increase your wealth or cash flow.

  • It takes less time to make more money - Playing scratch-off BINGO took me approximately 15 minutes (I'm guessing I could have done it faster if I had more practice). It takes zero minutes for money to automatically transfer from our checking account to our brokerage firm each month. It also takes about another three minutes to execute various orders for the funds we'd like to purchase. Time is money!

I'd bet most people reading this have hit the lottery already. Sum all the income you've earned throughout your life. If you had received this amount of money as one lump sum payment, wouldn't you consider that similar to winning the lottery? The cool part is that you have the opportunity to be more intentional with your financial decisions since your lottery winnings come about once every two weeks on payday.