Your Money: Gambling

Every time the jackpot gets really high, you hear it: “If I wont he lottery, I’d…” And a million people run out to buy tickets, praying and hoping that their dreams will magically come true when they win that outrageous sum of money.

It’s a great picture, isn’t it? To have all your problems disappear in an instant. Unfortunately, it’s not a very likely scenario.

I like to gamble as much as the next person. I enjoy visiting the local casinos and playing the slots. I would love it if a spin of the wheels brought up instant debt freedom. But I’m also realistic. I know that the odds of winning enough to make any kind of dent in my debt is pretty slim. Especially since I just play the penny slots! But even if I bet more, there’s no guarantee I’d walk away with anything — and a pretty good chance I’ll walk away with nothing, not even what I came with. Fun? Yes. A miracle waiting to happen? Not so much.

It’s the same, whether it’s the lottery or the casinos. It can be fun to play and imagine what you would do with your winnings. But the important thing to remember is that it is just for fun. While it’s possible you could experience a life-changing event, the odds are low. And throwing all your money at the low odd makes about as much sense as using it as fire kindling.

My point is not to give up on gambling entirely. It can be fun if you go into it not expecting anything. Consider it a form of entertainment. But if you find yourself relying on what you might win, you may have a bigger problem on your hands, especially if money is tight to begin with. Play once in a while, but for the long term it makes a lot more sense to invest that money in something that will bring you a guaranteed — or at least almost guaranteed — return. Put it in a savings account. Put it toward a high-interest debt. Start a college fund. Keep some of your money instead of throwing it all away.

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