So, I’m at work the other day and I am talking to people about retirement and personal finance basics. I told them that basically I don’t want to work a job forever and I will most likely leave my current job within the next few years. I was surprised to find that most people I told this to laughed and asked if I was planning to win the lottery. This got me thinking. Is this how most people are planning to retire or leave work early? Do they realize that if they could have so much more? After talking to more people and doing a little research, it is obvious that not only do most people not have plan, their ideas for attaining retirement are just down right ridiculous.
I find it funny that a large group of people think they will get to retirement by winning the lottery. Perhaps funny is the wrong word, maybe I should say disappointing or unfortunate. Whatever the name, it’s not important, what is important is the fact that this is a “legitimate” plan for a large number of people. Actually, I was quite surprised to find how large of a number it actually is. Consider the stats below:
In a 1999 survey by the Consumer Federation of America and financial services firm Primerica found that 40% of Americans with incomes between $25, 000 and $35, 000 a year, thought that the lottery would give them their retirement nest egg. What is interesting is that the same study found that number to increase to 50% when the income is $15, 000 to $25, 000 a year. The study shows that people become more desperate and hopeless as their income decreases. Consider this: Let’s say you spent $3 a week on lottery tickets each week. If you put that in an investment at 8% for 25 years you would have $12, 557.38. I am confident that this will be more than your total lottery winnings for that 25 year period. The odds are very slim that you will win anything.
The most popular lottery in Canada is the lotto 649. In this lottery six different numbers are randomly drawn from a set of balls with numbers ranging from 1 to 49. Your odds to win are as follows:
1 in 13,983,816 or
Odds of being killed by a dog: 1 in 700,000
If everybody in Canada played the same lotto 649 draw at the same time only 2 people would win. Most people think that playing frequency will dramatically increase their chances of winning. Consider this: If you played the lotto 649 twice a week, every week, for the next thousand years, the chances of winning the jackpot are about 1%. The cost to play the lottery for that thousand years would be about $208, 000 not considering a thousand years of inflation.
I have heard that the lottery is a tax for people who can’t do math. I could not agree more. People who play the lottery don’t understand personal finance basics. I have never played lotto 649 and I intend to keep that streak for life. I see no logical reason to spend money on the lottery when I am 20 times more likely to get killed by a dog. And how many people do you know that have been killed by a dog? I rest my case.