All right, I’m not even Catholic, but it’s time for a little confession. In our department, we have committed an act of which we speak hesitantly in public. We are all in on it and equally guilty. We have high hopes and yet are quite unlikely to actually see any return. Yes, we who are so focused on credit counseling and building financial stability, are all together in a lottery pool.
And WE’RE OK WITH THAT!
It started back a week or so ago when the jackpot was ridiculously high. Each of us threw in 3$ for a ticket (and the doubler, of course), and away we went.
And then we won.
And then we won again.
Ok, so we won a total of $12 the first drawing and $35 the second. With all proceeds so far going to buy more tickets, I think each of us would have ended up ahead a grand total of 89 cents if we bailed out now. Woo hoo.
But is it really good for a bunch of credit counselors to be gambling?
Well, it’s a little more complicated than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I will tell you that we aren’t inherently just against gambling.
You see, we are each in for a total of $3. None of us is in a position where that $3 is a matter of keeping the lights on or food on the table. No, it was extra ‘fun money’ that we were able to throw in. If (when) we all end up losing our cash with no winning numbers, we won’t really notice a difference in our daily lives.
But I will also tell you that we certainly see times when we can’t support someone’s gambling. We see people come in regularly who are behind on rent, or bills, or utilities who are instead spending money gambling. And in these circumstances, it’s not a small amount of money is going to gambling either. Gambling has become a budget buster for them.
The reality is that gambling is, playing the numbers, a losing proposition. After all, organizations like the casinos are in it to make money. If even half of those who play walk away winners, those organizations don’t make money. If you are counting on at least breaking even, well….. good luck with that.
Here’s the flip side – we always gamble. History has proven that the stock markets where most of us place our retirement funds are a bit of a gamble. I bought my home with no guarantee that the value would go up. Even spending $10 just to get in to a movie that I’m not sure will entertain me is a gamble.
So what’s the difference? Well, the latter list has much higher odds of landing in my favor than gambling on the lottery or in a casino. But even if the movies do entertain me, too many could put my housing, utilities, and other necessities at risk.
The point here is that it’s all about moderation. Identify your needs and wants. It’s ok to enjoy and even spend money on your wants. Just make sure that you do it in moderation and only with the funds that are left AFTER you pay for the needs in life. You don’t want life to be hanging on the random roll of a dice.
And if you decide that your gambling budget will be absolutely $0, well I’m just fine with that too.
But then you need to know where your extra money IS going. After all, the real root of the issue is an addiction. Aside from illicit drugs and gambling, addictions can take many forms. Addictions to buying clothes, fine dining, traveling, or whatever your poison may be.
If you are finding that perhaps you need a little guidance in being more intentional with your available cash, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources are here to help (unless we all win the lottery and retire, but don’t count on it). You can call us at 605-330-2700 or even schedule an appointment online.
We can help you define and accomplish your own goals. But don’t worry, we won’t force you to give up your occasional lottery ticket. After all, we are up 89 cents ourselves.
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy KXRB.com and freedigitalphotos.net, respectively