According to CNN, in 2016, Americans spent over $80 billion 0n lottery tickets. That means, on average, Americans spend more on lottery tickets than they do on sports tickets, movies, video games, music, and books – combined!
Even though 62% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck (Market Watch), and 80% are in debt (CNN Money), the majority of people still choose to empty their bank accounts for lotto tickets.
Most frustratingly, the lottery isn’t even a game that anyone of us has any real possibility at winning; each player is almost 4x more likely to be hit by lightning than become an overnight one-percenter with the lottery.
According to one study, 27.1 percent of gamblers who reported spending over 5 percent of their gross family income monthly, also report experiencing serious problems because of their gambling habit, including health problems, high debts, financial issues, or guilt and other negative emotions.
MISPLACED OPTIMISM LEADS TO WASTE
Playing the lottery can be fun, but it also comes with a certain desperation. Buying a ticket on your birthday or a holiday can make for a few minutes of joy, as long as you remember that it’s just that. If you’re shelling out money multiple times a year (or month, or week) to play and have real hopes of winning, it’s time to evaluate why.
Many times people are prone to illusions of control and “near misses” – that is, when you watch those numbers get picked, you often find yourself thinking “I almost got it! Next time for sure!”
If you want to achieve long term financial stability, it’s important to recognize these parts of your personality – determine how you can augment your situation to make them positive, instead of negative. You’re an optimistic person – that’s a good thing. You also are difficult to discourage, which means you’re resilient in the face of ongoing hardship. Use those traits to better your situation through entrepreneurship, volunteering, or other productive activities.
Tobacco products are expensive by themselves, let alone with tax added. In New York State, where taxes on tobacco are high, low-income smokers spend approximately one-quarter of their income on cigarettes.
The national average, though less expensive, is still surprising: 14 percent of Americans' incomes are spent on cigarettes, rounding out to roughly one-seventh of their total income.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American consumer dedicates 1 percent of all their spending to alcohol, or about $1 of every $100!
When absorbing this information, consider this: the Bureau of Labor Statistics says Americans may not necessarily be drinking out more, rather, they are being charged more. Between the years of 1982 and 2011, there was a 79 percent increase in alcohol pricing in restaurants and bars (adjusted for inflation).
Based on annual home energy costs, Business Insider estimates that Americans throw away $443 billion on wasted energy, and government-supported Energy Star says consumers can cut energy costs by a third if they use the recommendations and suggestions on their to-do list.
Daily Coffee Trips
According to a recent survey of American workers by Accounting Principals, Americans who regularly buy coffee throughout the week spend on average, $1,092 on coffee annually.
WHAT COULD YOU DO WITH AN EXTRA $300 A YEAR?
When you buy a lottery ticket, you may think to yourself that throwing a few dollars at chance every so often isn’t so bad. If this sounds familiar, consider instead putting those dollars (and a few more, if you can) towards purchases that will really benefit you.
The best ideas: buy books, or even listen to them using Audible (they even have a promotion going on where you can get your first audiobook for free). Enroll in online classes. Put the money in your retirement or savings account. Start a 529 account for your child. Start a Shopify store to make some extra income on the side.
You worked hard for that money – don’t throw it away.