Winning a lottery sounds like a dream to most people. According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, we spent $70 billion on lotto tickets in 2014. That’s more than we spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movies, and music combined! Interestingly enough, 20% of people buy the majority of the tickets, and the average low-income household spends 5% of its income on their lottery dreams. The odds are not in anyone’s favor, yet we keep playing because we are incredibly optimistic.
Well, it’s time to rethink that optimism. Here are a few reasons why we should really reconsider the idiom “better than winning the lottery” because, as it turns out, most things are better for your long-term happiness than winning the lottery.
If you win the lottery, you can’t trust anyone. Business relationships could be scams, and you will be a target for lawsuits and theft. Family members may treat you differently and take advantage of you. Friends and family will expect you to pay for everything. You will be suspicious of every new friend you make. Winning the lottery will ruin your faith in other people.
You’ll probably end up worse off financially than you are now. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70% of lottery winners, or individuals who suddenly come into a large sum of money, spend it all within 5 years, many having to declare bankruptcy. Too many lottery winners surround themselves with the wrong people and don’t get the help they need in order to invest wisely. New cars and vacations are not money-making assets!
A large sum of money really won’t make you happier. In a 1978 study done by Brickman, Coates and Janoff-Bulman on lottery winners and paraplegics found that paraplegics were only slightly less happy than the control group, and lottery winners were no happier than the control group. The notion that winning the lottery will immediately fix someone’s life and make him or her infinitely happier is incredibly incorrect.
Ultimately, the house always wins. A bulk of lottery revenue goes to the state, usually for schools, and any winnings over $600 are taxed at 45%. The government wins while the players lose in a lot of ways.
While lottery tickets seem like fun, cheap games, the costs add up surprisingly quickly. Previous lottery winners’ experiences suggest you’d be much better off without! Be grateful for what you have!