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3 Ways Playing the Lottery Kills Your Future – We’re Old Enough to Know Better!

By Margaret Manning August 18, 2017 Managing Money

What’s the point of writing an article about the evils of playing the lotter for older adults? Surely, by the time we reach our 50s and 60s, we have learned that gambling is the absolute worst way to get rich.

Well, apparently, our generation didn’t get the memo because, according to scientists at the University at Buffalo, 64% of 50-59 year-olds and 67% of 60-69 year-olds in the U.S. have played a lottery in the last year. That’s actually a higher percentage than the 48% of 20-21 year olds that play the lottery!

So, what gives? Why, with all of our experience, are we still playing the lottery? Do we see it as one last opportunity to get rich before we reach retirement age? Or, are we simply looking for a little excitement? Whatever the reason, it is clear that, as a generation, our gambling addiction is holding us back from reaching our financial dreams.

It’s not just the money that we spend on lottery tickets that is the problem; it’s also the fact that playing the lottery reinforces the idea that luck – and not hard work and creativity – is the path to financial success.

Here are 3 ways that playing the lottery will prevent you from building the financial future that you deserve. I think the 3rd reason will surprise you!

It’s All About the Money… But, Not for the Reason You Think

The first way that the lottery kills your financial future is so obvious that it barely needs mentioning. The lottery is a greedy money-eating beast. According to one analysis that I saw, the expected return on a $2 Powerball ticket is just $0.92. This means that, you’re literally better off taking two $1 bills out of your pocket, burning one, and putting the other back.

“So what?” you may be asking. “I’m already approaching 60. A few dollars here or there isn’t going to make a hill of beans worth of difference when I reach retirement. And, if I do get lucky, my life will be changed forever!”

There are two problems with this logic. First, most people dramatically underestimate how much they can save in their 50s and 60s. If you are 50-years-old today, you probably have time to double the value of your stock market investments 2-3 times. This means that every dollar you invest in the stock market today could be worth $4-8!

The second problem is that people have a habit of talking themselves out of positive investments but have no trouble spending money on lottery tickets. What’s the number one excuse for not joining a gym? Money. Not starting a business? Money. Not investing in an online course? Money.

It’s crazy to me that people continue to burn their money in the meat-grinder that is the lottery while complaining that they don’t have money to invest in their health, happiness and wealth!

Your Time is a Valuable Asset

I don’t know about you but the older I get the more I get the feeling that I am running out of time. It may not seem like playing the lotter takes a lot of time, but, it all adds up.

For example, let’s say that, in total, you spend 10 minutes a week on the lottery. This includes going to the store, buying your ticket and watching the results. That’s more than 8 hours (or one full work day) per year that you are spending on a game that will almost certainly lose you money.

Other than a lack of money, the excuse that I hear most often from people who want to start a business, but don’t, is a lack of time.

Now, 8 hours may not seem like a lot of time, but, let me ask you this… when was the last time that you took a full day to just sit down and plan out your financial future? Imagining becoming instantly wealthy is more fun than analyzing your costs, brainstorming business ideas or doing a little freelancing, but, it won’t get you any close to your goals.

In fact, from a psychological perspective, there is every reason to believe that playing the lottery will make you less likely to start a business.

Playing the Lottery Supports the Myth of Luck-Based Wealth

Other than being born in the United States and avoiding serious illness, luck has very little to do with financial success. Oh sure, sometimes, people are in the right place at the right time. But, statistically speaking, determination, creativity and good old-fashioned grit have more to do with success than luck. If you don’t believe me, read The Millionaire Mind, by Thomas J. Stanley. In it, he destroys many millionaire myths – including the idea that millionaires are smarter than the rest of us.

The lottery is the ultimate example of the “wealth is all about luck” mentality. It’s hard enough to build up the confidence to start a business in your 50s or 60s. I can’t imagine how I would motivate myself to get started if I believed that luck was the shortest path to financial freedom.

If there is one thing that I have learned by starting and running my own businesses it’s that you have to believe in yourself if you want to succeed.

So, be grateful for being born in such an amazing country, but, don’t confuse winning the geographic lottery with your ability to win the real lottery.

Instead, if you want to achieve true financial security in the best years of your life, invest in yourself, build your business and save for the long-term.

Do you still play the lottery? What is the main reason that you do or don’t? Please join the conversation!

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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