MindsetMoney Stories

How to Win in Life Without Winning the Lottery

The lottery lets you think of big, bold ideas, but without the right mindset, you're more apt to make irrational money decisions.

I will openly admit I have played the lottery many times. Sometimes the lottery tickets yield a $2 win, but most often, it’s a loss. I don’t play the lottery regularly, but there are occasions like billion-dollar jackpots when I opt to buy a ticket and skip my cup of coffee.

Let me get this out of the way.

The chance of winning the lottery is significantly lower than drowning in water and getting hit by lightning at the same time. The odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 292 million, and with Mega Millions, it’s 1 in 252 million.

We all know this. We also know that someone will eventually win. And you have to be in it to win it.

A dollar and a dream!

Isn’t that the promise of the lottery? But why do we still choose to play?

It’s a game where a piece of paper carries your hopes and dreams and represents your thoughts and feelings.

I’ve never been against anyone playing the lottery. I do warn people the lottery isn’t their retirement fund. The lottery is not a good reason to skip retirement planning.

There’s a lesson about the lottery I want to share with you.

During financial workshops, I might hand out scratch-off tickets. In a group of 40 people, I once gave $1 scratch-off tickets. Not to anyone’s surprise, there was no winner. The cost to me was $40, but the lesson was invaluable.

What was the lesson behind the exercise?

You can’t leave your financial future to chance. That one dollar spent could be the first dollar saved in your emergency fund.

The Emotions Behind Playing and Winning the Lottery

I want to focus this article on helping you understand your emotions and reasoning for playing and dreaming of winning the lottery.

What are your reasons? What are your “whys?”

I know why I play the lottery. I don’t expect to win, but it reminds me of the importance of my dreams.

Every time I play the lottery, my life’s vision comes into focus. These lottery tickets are little vision boards with numbers, words, and barcodes.

In one financial session I held, I asked 12 people if any had a lottery ticket in their wallets or purses. Five attendees raised their hands. I requested they hold onto the lottery ticket and close their eyes. I wanted them to envision the life they would be living if that ticket had won.

One by one, each ticket holder shared their hopes and dreams. Surely enough, each vision was unique to the person. 

However, the exercise revealed a common thread: people have dreams about living their best lives.

With each person holding their lottery ticket, I went through how to achieve their dream without a lottery win.

Of course, some people had outlandish ideas. Some wanted to buy new cars and homes for each family member or friend or pay off their debt.

Envision your actual dreams, not fantasies.

The lottery lets you think of big, bold ideas, but without the right mindset, you’re more apt to make irrational money decisions.

Have you wondered why many lottery winners lose their millions quickly?

The lottery win isn’t going to change your money mindset and won’t improve your financial behaviors.

Chances are you’ll spend mindlessly because of your relationship with money. You’ll experience lifestyle creep and might even try to keep up with a new set of Joneses.

Remember the days when you made minimum wage (barely getting by) and hoped to make double that salary one day? You might have even said you’d save, pay off debt, and live more.

What happened when you moved from $30,000 to $50,000 a year?

You probably didn’t save or pay off debt if you are anything like most people or me.

Be aware of how your money beliefs impact your dreams. The first step in realizing your dreams is being aware of your mindset. Awareness is a crucial step in shifting your limiting beliefs to abundance.

Want to learn more about increasing your financial awareness? Check out my book, You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life.

Financial freedom is something you work towards.

The problem with playing the lottery is that it supports the unhealthy money mindset. It reinforces a belief that financial freedom is based purely on luck. However, self-made millionaires know best that financial freedom begins with the proper mindset.

Another good book is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which focuses on shifting your mindset.

You may have heard the coffee example of how little expenses add up. That example is similar to lottery spending. 

Suppose you spend $10 weekly on lottery tickets, $520 yearly, and $5,200 in 10 years before earning interest. Instead, imagine investing $10 each week; you could grow that money to nearly $10,000.

Some money experts will wave their fingers and tell you no to lotteries. But I won’t chastise you. I believe playing the lottery is similar to spending money on any other discretionary item.

Do you have the money? Would you rather spend it on a lottery ticket than a movie ticket? It’s your money and your choice to spend it.

And I’m also not going to fight our culture surrounding the lottery. I do, however, want to shift your mindset and spark a different type of conversation around your hopes and dreams.

When you play the lottery and hold that losing ticket in your hand, please close your eyes and envision your dream lifestyle.

Then, I want you to write them down.

Ask yourself why these things are important to you. Cross off things that are fantasies. Circle the dreams that genuinely resonate with you.

You’ve now begun creating your life’s vision statement.

With all that said, I want to emphasize the importance of mental health. Gambling can be addictive to some and destroy lives. If you need help, I recommend you read how to play responsibly.

Have you played the lottery recently? What are your dreams? Comment below.

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of phroogal.com and thesmilelifestyle.com. His purpose to help others live their best lives through experiential and purposeful living. Jason is also a certified yoga teacher and breathwork specialist and has traveled to over 40 countries.

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  1. I buy at least one lottery ticket per week cause you just never know. You have to play to win but I get what you’re saying about focusing on budgeting. I do budget but I also allocate a dollar for a dream.

  2. I’m more upset that there’s so many people who can’t afford just one or two dollars a day on lottery tickets than the fact that there are people who are addicted to them. I know that for myself I have bought scratch tickets every once in a while lately simply because I’m an extremely over-educated factory maggot ( I would have used the actual word for my job title, but I wanted to keep the vulgarity to a minimum on this post ) who will never get a decent job no matter how hard I work to better myself.

    Don’t get me wrong. I buy them knowing that the odds of them getting me more money than I paid for them is very small, and the possibly of them making me enough money to significantly improve my life is so small it can only be seen in an electron microscope. However, I also realize that my other option is to just accept that I will rot this way and, take your advice save the money so that I can have a whopping $36,000 by the time I am 70 assuming that this hell doesn’t kill me long before then.

    While I agree that trying to win the lottery is pretty futile, and almost everyone that ever does end up actually paying more in tickets than they ever win, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish these anti lottery blogs would give a little more advice than “save the money instead”. Some of us honestly do it because we just don’t have enough coming in for that to be feasible or we are stuck in a job or line of work we hate that much that we can’t wait for that many years to start dreaming.

    1. You’re right it’s about knowing where you stand and actually having a plan. We aren’t against the lottery as you can read from the post but we just want you to have the money conversation with yourself. Sure, it might be okay to throw in a dollar or two towards the lottery but are you throwing in at least 1% into your company 401(k) or contributing to an IRA.

      We’re about achieving dreams not living in fantasy.

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