Some call it the idiot tax. Some call it a tax on the poor and the stupid. That’s all fine and dandy, but everyone spends money on frivolous things. Hell, there are worse things to spend your money on. I’d call tobacco products, high end fashion items (purses, jewelry), and “collectors items” (sports memorabilia), idiot taxes as well.
I consider myself a pretty good saver and a disciplined investor, but every once in a while, when I go to fill up my car or I see that the jackpot is pretty high, I spend a few bucks on the lottery.
Desperate To Win
The other day, when I walked into a liquor store to purchase a Powerball ticket, I saw a man digging through the trash. He was collecting used scratchers. My first thought was that he wanted to double check the tickets to see if there were any winners that somebody accidentally threw away. But then I realized how the routine scratcher players operate.
You see, a “professional” (read: addict) doesn’t even bother scratching the entire card like you or I would. The people who habitually buy these things don’t have time for that. They just want to know if they won, and if so, how much. So, they go straight for the barcode at the bottom of the ticket. Then they go over to the little machine that reads the barcode that tells them if they’ve won or not.
There are usually only a few courses of action after the barcode scanning machine. They walk away pissed off, they redeem their winnings for more tickets in hopes of winning it big, or they spend more money. Of course, with that logic, it has always been my observation that they walk away empty handed.
A Second Chance
Realizing that, I knew that those used tickets in the liquor store couldn’t be winners. What could the guy digging through the trash be up to?
Ah! What a frickin’ genius! He was taking the tickets so he could enter them into the 2nd Chance drawings for free. I don’t know what the official odds are, but it sounds like it’s based on the total number of entrants. He’ll basically have better odds of winning a cash prize without spending a single cent on tickets.
I wouldn’t be caught digging through the trash for old scratcher tickets, but I couldn’t think of a better way to play the lottery without actually spending any money.
Focus On The Big Wins
Anyways, what’s the morale of this story? It’s OK to be frivolous once in a while. I believe we should always strive to improve ourselves, but we’re not perfect and we should freely admit that. Spending a few dollars here and there won’t put a dent in your savings, but don’t count on the lottery as your retirement plan.