Thursday Rant #2 – Office Lotto Pools

In Rants, The JOB by Gen Y Finance Guy33 Comments

Let me first get my confession in before I get too deep into this rant. Yes, I admit that I have played the lottery once in my life when I turned 18 and was old enough to buy a lottery ticket. My purchase even included some scratchers. But in my defense, this is sort of a rite of passage. Doesn’t everyone go out on their 18th birthday to buy cigarettes, porn, and some lotto tickets??? OK, so maybe buying porn is a bit old school. Let’s be honest no one pays for porn anymore when they can get it online for free.

Needless to say, I didn’t win millions the one and only time I played the lotto.

Now onto the rant…

Do you want in on our office lotto pool?

How many emails have you gotten from colleagues in the office asking if you want in on the office lotto pool? I don’t know about you, but I have had enough invitations to throw my money away that I am annoyed every time I hear about the lotto.  I really don’t care that the Power-Ball is $350m – and I really don’t care how much fun it would be if we all won and were able to quit on the same day.

PeerStreet

And every time I  politely decline, the guilt trip comes. “Well you’ll be sorry if we win and all walk out of here,” someone says.  Or my favorite,  “You will be the only one left and then you’ll be poor and lonely.”

Typically I just answer, “Yeah, that would really suck.”

But in my head I am thinking, “how F-ing stupid could you be?”  I really wonder if people even understand the math behind the lotto. Have you ever  looked at the statistics of winning?  The fact that you are playing the lotto reinforces the fact that you will likely never be rich.

The last email invitation I got to join the office pool, I drafted this  response:

If you guys win, I will manage your money for you and make sure you don’t go broke like most of the other lotto winners. Oh, and by the way, did you know that you have a 1 in 175,223,510 chance of winning? Do you realize how small your chances are? You have a 0.000000006 % chance.

Why do so many people just not get the math?

Better odds

In my opinion,, you already won the lotto  by being born in the United States. With 7B people on earth and about 300M in the US, you have a 4.3% chance of being born here. Your odds of being born in the US are 7.5M times greater than winning the lottery. Why push your luck?

I am just saying…its simple math.

The take away…

Please stop wasting your money and start contributing to your 401K for crying out loud. At least contribute the minimum to get the company match!!! And at the very least, if you want to be dumb with your money, please just take me off the damn email string.

Once and for all, NO I DON’T WANT TO PLAY IN THE DUMB-ASS LOTTERY POOL. IT’S A LOSERS GAME AND I LIKE TO WIN(OR AT LEAST HAVE A STATISTICAL CHANCE OF WINNING).

However if you want to learn how to invest your money and make your money grow into millions, let’s talk, immediately if not sooner.

END RANT

– Gen Y Finance Guy

p.s. if you want some other lottery winner statistic you can check them out here.



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Comments

  1. I can sense your passion for the subject in all the bold and colorful text 🙂 I’ve done lottery pools at work a couple times. It’s fun to do with your colleagues and total I’ve probably spent less than $20 on them. I’m one of those guys that will spend 2 to 5 bucks when the lottery reaches $300m or more, because why not! I think the entertainment the couple bucks brings me is worth it more than paying $4 for a Starbucks Latte. But that’s coming from the guy who once won $1k on a state lottery! So I’m kind of biased. (I know you’re going to say well lightning won’t strike me twice! haha)

  2. Author

    Yes, I guess I went a little deep on this rant.

    That great if you get joy out of it. But you are kind of in a different boat…because the thing that erks me the most, is that most of these people are not even contributing to their 401K to get the FREE company match.

    Yet they play lotto every week and go to the casino.

    Congrats on the state lottery win of $1,000.

    Now I wouldn’t mind running a private lotto. I would love being the house, because there is a reason why the lotto works, and its all numbers.

    Cheers!

    1. Our lotto group has spent almost $70 grand on the lotto in 3 years

      We still dropping this shit every month

  3. I play the lottery a few times each year, but not on a weekly or regular basis. I definitely think looking at it from an ROI perspective is the wrong way to go about it. People aren’t investing in it, they are gambling. Yes, the odds are terrible (as bad as they could possibly be, really) but there is nothing that has more potential to change your life. I figure even if I end up spending $1k on lottery tickets over my life it’s no loss. I enjoy thinking about the “potential” of possibly winning gobs of money and having my life changed overnight.

    1. Author

      Hey DC,

      Your totally right that you can’t look at it from an ROI perspective, because it is something that has a negative expected return.

      I totally get that some people derive some joy out of playing the lotto, but it is usually the people that really can’t afford to play the lotto that are playing it.

      I am sure the $1k you spend on lottery tickets is something you can afford. But I would also bet that you are putting away money in a pre-tax retirement account.

      Thanks fro stopping by.

      Cheers!

      1. We have a lottery pool at work as well and everyone joins (except me) because they don’t want to be the last one standing IF they win, and some also join because it’s apparently fun. My problem with it is that I also get that guilt trip about not joining, but I’m on a tight budget and can’t justify spending needed money on something where I have no return on my investment. I hate that guilt-trip, exclusionary bull-crap. I’d probably find more entertainment from giving one of the idiots $2 to do a dance for me. I also read somewhere that if you’re going to join a lottery pool you should play with winners, not losers (I guess this has to do with positive thinking and law of attraction) so if you’re joining a lottery pool with people who are only joining because they don’t want to be left out of the win, aren’t you playing with “losers”? Also, what happens when you have a shark in your pool (I could see a couple of my co-workers being this way) and you end up in a legal battle and spending most of your winnings on legal fees? No thanks.

  4. I’ve played the lottery and also participated in the pools. Yea the numbers never make sense but the general feeling is about team work for me back then. I would suggest a dollar a person rather than $5 or $10. Everyone can dream a bit and skip the vending machine for that day.

  5. I do not understand playing the lottery or gambling. I hate losing money. I think it might be more entertaining to strike a match and light my $1 on fire. At least that way, it’s leaving circulation. Perhaps I’ll prevent one poor schmuck from wasting his money on a lottery ticket.

    1. I don’t think it’s legal to set money on fire? Haha just googled it out of curiosity. Burning that one dollar could mean $100 fine and 6 months in jail. Crazy! lol

  6. GYFG,

    Two things. First, you would have better odds trying to commit suicide flying a commercial airliner and second, have you ever noticed that no one is ever wearing suits when they show up to collect the winning checks.

    Real success comes come from doing what appears to be small, seemingly insignificant things each and every day to build your career and improve your standing in life while others chase the “lotto tickets” I don’ t discount that sometimes success happens overnight, I just have never seen it personally and am not going to live in hope and die in despair.

    MDP

    1. Author

      MDP,

      I won’t argue the math brother.

      Sounds like you are a fan of the Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

      The Compound Efeect is either working for you or against you. Those little things that seem insignificant at first eventually lead to exponential growth.

      Reminds me of a quote I heard about overnight success.

      “Every overnight success is 10 years in ther making” – Unknown

      Thanks for the wisdom!

  7. Totally agree with you, its just throwing away your money. That being said I regularly participate in the office lotto pool. Its $2/week and sometimes we win a small amount that keeps us going for a few months. In the last year I’ve pitched in $40 and its still going. Not the best use of my money but it give us all something fun to talk about at work.

    1. Author

      As long as you are having some fun and actually building your dream instead of just dreaming…I see no harm at $2/week.

      Just isn’t something I will ever be able to enjoy doing with my money.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I only play it when the prize is greater than the odds of winning. Of course taxes, multiple winners, etc. all make for a bad bet.

    But you will feel bad if all your co-workers leave you behind….

    1. Author

      I am pretty sure if my co-workers win that I will be able to convince them to take me with them as there dedicated wealth manager.

      At least they have told me as much.

      Cheers!

  9. I love your response!

    That said, I think it’s totally okay to play the lottery. That assumes that you’re financially stable, of course. It shouldn’t take away from something like retirement savings.

    The important thing is to not really expect the lottery to take care of your life and secure you in retirement. That’s obviously unhealthy.

    But $1-3 won’t kill your finances. I look at it as buying a little fun. You know you won’t win, but you get to dream for a little bit. You’d pay off your house, help relatives, etc.

    I don’t personally play. We have other money priorities. But my mom (who wrote for MSN Money!) wrote about why she occasionally does. http://donnafreedman.com/2012/03/31/hey-i-didnt-win-the-mega-millions/

    I wouldn’t recommend buying in every week, but I think there are other viewpoints on the subject.

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing the article, if was a fun read. And in light of this being a rant I may had been a little harsh in the name of fun.

      Different perspectives are always welcome on this blog.

      Cheers!

  10. Yeah. I totally agree with you. I don’t ever play lotto as you said it is nothing different from throwing my hard earned money away.

  11. Spot on. The sad thing is that a lot of people who play are the ones who can afford it the least. When I worked for a beer distributor, I saw people begging on the side of the road bring their money in to buy cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets.

    The “someone has to win” argument is my favorite…someone does, and it is the people who run the lottery – not you.

    1. Your totally right Brian. I remember seeing a YouTube clip of one of the winners. This guy was missing teeth and explaining to the camera that before he bought the lottery ticket he couldn’t afford to buy milk for his family.

      WTF was he doing buying a lottery ticket then?

      Cheers!

  12. I’ve never entered lottery my whole life, let alone take part into office lotto pool. It’s not like I’m against it, but I just don’t feel like it I guess. Nevertheless though, I’ve heard about a statistician who won lottery 4 times because she was able to find out the pattern. So, I guess if you’re that smart and willing to put your time into it, it’s not a game of chance anymore. But yeah, most of use are not like that, so…

    1. Author

      Good for you Suburban Finance for holding onto your money.

  13. I used to play office lotto pool but have stopped playing for a while now. The odds aren’t on our side to start with. Why throwing my hard earn money away?

    1. Author

      Glad you are not throwing away your hard earned moneyany more 🙂

  14. I’ve never played the lottery on my own in my life just for that very reason. My work does have a lottery pool where I’ll chip in $20 the odd time. It lasts for about half the year. I don’t mind it too much. I’m saving about 40% of my income each month and tracking my expenses, so my bank account isn’t taking a huge hit from the lottery pool. Not sure about everyone else.

    Oddly enough, it seems to lighten the mood when people joke about winning the lottery. I guess it sort of brings the group together?

  15. Ha, yes office lottery pools are a bit of a pet peeve. The math is crazy isn’t it? My office had an internal drawing pool where you can buy in for the chance to win the entire pot of “contributions” from the people in our office. If your name was picked and you hadn’t bought in, then the pot would roll to the next round. The math was a lot better than the lottery at least!

    1. Author

      Yes, the math makes no sense. To me, you only play the lotto if you are really bad at math.

      What was the buy in for the internal pool at your old office?

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