Mega Millions losers: Frugal dilemmas

March 25, 2011

Friends and readers, I have plenty of vices. For example, I like bad movies and deep fried food, especially with extra cheese. Put a giant screen at a county fair and I'm in heaven.

But I have never been able to get excited about playing the lottery --- even when the Mega Millions jackpot hits $312 million.

I really did give it a try. I bought tickets once or twice and participated in one or two organized pools when the millions on the billboard visible from an office window hit triple digits.

But I've never felt a thrill when scratching off a ticket or while waiting to hear if my numbers have been called. The immediate disappointment of losing overwhelms any excitement. (Don't even get me started on bingo, which stresses me out.)

And that's why I wanted to mention the commentary of a blogger featured on She argues that instead of regularly putting money into a lottery commission's coffers in an attempt to save for retirement or emergencies, people should put that $1 or $6 or $10 into an investment.

I'd agree --- UNLESS you are already saving, and lotteries really do make you happy, and you're only using cash you would normally spend on entertainment.

Because, no matter what the odds are for whatever game of chance you might be playing, there are bound to be way more losers than winners.

And with savings, you'll always have something at the end of the day --- even if you put your cash into a regular old savings account with a negligible interest rate, but still FDIC insured, unlike my mattress.

Call it whatever you want: a jackpot, a retirement, or fun money ... but unlike lottery tickets, it won't be wasted paper.

So what do you think? Do you play the lottery --- regularly or once in a while? Take the poll but don't forget to tell us about your scratch-off habits (or lack thereof) in the comments below.




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