Smart SpendingSmart Spending

You wanna bet?

I don't expect a dollar to fund my dream. But I won't sweat an occasional greenback spent on the weekly drawing.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 15, 2010 1:40PM
Every now and then I buy a lottery ticket.

I'll pause for a moment to give some of you the chance to draw in a big ol' breath of righteous indignation.

All puffed up now? Let's hear it:

The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.
The lottery is a tax on poor people.
The lottery is a waste of money.

Yes, I know that it's extremely unlikely the computer will hand over a winning MegaMillions pick, and that many lottery winners wind up broke and embittered. I also know that salt is bad for me, but I sure do love a Philly soft pretzel now and then.

So maybe 10 times a year I'll take a buck and buy a ticket for a weekly drawing. Sue me.
I'm not the only frugalist who enjoys a touch of this dollar decadence, according to a Smart Spending message board thread called "Do you purchase lottery tickets?"

It's usually a pretty small touch, though. A reader posting as "GettingOutOfDebt" buys a scratch ticket about twice a year and invariably comes away only with buyer's remorse: "I think about what I could have bought with that dollar."

At her previous job, "ATSiaRU" ran the lotto pool for coworkers, and recalls her weekly dollar as being "well worth the entertainment/social interaction." But the folks at her new workplace aren't interested in games of chance, so she hasn't bought a ticket since. However, she does enjoy an occasional evening at the craps tables.
"Wac72" watches people scratching away at daily stacks of tickets. If they hit, they conveniently forget how much they've spent to get there. Personally, she'd rather spend that kind of cash "on something tangible."

Well, yeah. If I were buying stacks of tickets every day, I'd have a problem. But I'm not. This is a treat, and a pretty cheap treat at that. I don't drink coffee, I don't smoke, I don't buy very many meals outside the house. An occasional dollar won't break the bank.

Instead of spending it at the dollar store or on the Dollar Menu, I'll drop it on the Lotto. Rather than add eight more greenbacks and go to a first-run movie, I'll splurge on a single MegaMillions ticket.

Reader "LadyV_39" comes from lottery-lovin' parents, but rarely touches the stuff herself. In her state she'd have to acknowledge any winnings publicly, and she fears "people popping out of the woodwork demanding a handout."

That would worry me, too, since I couldn't tell you offhand how many cousins I have. I know that it's a big number. Maybe I'll enter it as a quick pick.

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