Lottery Tickets: Worthy Investment or Waste of Money?

California Mega Millions Lottery Ticket Image by Penelope Pince

Our cousin, aunt and uncle are a loyal patrons of the Taiwan lottery. (Or at least my cousin was until a recent tarot reading convinced her to cut back on the lottery purchases.) But when she first arrived in April, she purchased 2 or 3 California Mega Millions lottery tickets and convinced me to do so … once.

Because for just $1, you get a chance at $45,000,000, and then the next week it becomes $85,000,000, and the week after that … OK, so it’s obvious that the chances are minuter than minute, but there’s always the “what if?” What if your next ticket was the winner? What if for $1, you could have been a millionaire?

But turn that around, and what if for want of $1, your finances go haywire. Alright, the chances of that are also minute, but it brings to mind the old proverb:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

(For those who aren’t familiar with horses, most domesticated horses have very soft feet. They seem hard, but the outside is actually not much different from a human fingernail and the inside and underside are soft. Horseshoes protect a horse’s feet from cracking and bruising by rocks and pebbles. They are nailed onto a horse’s hooves with special horseshoe nails, and if a horseshoe falls off, the horse’s hoof could be injured, causing it to limp, resulting in further injury to the leg. When a horse’s leg is injured, it can trip or fall and a rider could be thrown, which can result in serious injury and sometimes death.)

Furthermore, what about the potential of that $1 a couple of times a month (or 8 times a month if you buy twice a week) to become a significant and almost sure amount of money over time? As Madoline likes to say:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

So logically, lottery tickets are a waste of money. But since both chance and risk are small, but potential is big, maybe a good compromise could be to purchase a ticket occasionally as long as it doesn’t become a habit, and as long as you fully appreciate the significance of the purchase decision?

What do you think? Do you buy lottery tickets? Are they a complete waste of money? Or worth the chance at millionairehood? Or something fun that’s OK every once in a while as long as it doesn’t become a regular habit?

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7 thoughts on “Lottery Tickets: Worthy Investment or Waste of Money?”

  1. Lotteries are a tax for the poor. Someone once told me that when the economy is in a depression the best stocks to buy are gambling stocks people will gamble more when they are desperate for money.

    The chances of you winning at next to none…..

  2. Being that the money you spend either goes to 1 of 3 places, I think the answer to whether buying lottery tickets is a waste or not is really decided by what kind of person you are. A greedy person will only look at losing the dollar and not at where that dollar ends up. If you lose, a portion of your dollar helps pay the clerk working in a store that sells the tickets. Another portion goes to the pot of money that makes somebody’s day brighter when they see their numbers have came out. And finally the rest of that dollar goes into our education system, and thankfully so many people have contributed to the billions that the Virginia Lottery has donated to public schools. Then there’s the side of playing that dollar where your number comes out, you look at it in disbelief, and your worries about how you were gonna make that one dollar get you enough gas to make it to work for the rest of the week disappear. Or in case you played the mega millions with that dollar- your worries about any financial problem you may have been stressing over all kinda fade away.. or at least I would believe they would. I still haven’t played that dollar yet.

  3. It’s anything but a worthy investment. BUT that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of money either.

    I don’t play right now. We are already spending more than I like, since I go through periods where my depression keeps me from functioning (read: cooking). But once we’re out of debt, I will probably buy one sometimes. Why? Because it’s fun to think about. For $2, you’re buying (very brief) hope. And when you don’t win, well… There’s always next time!

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