Why College Students Shouldn't Buy Lottery Tickets

By Lorena Roberts on March 7, 2019

Being a college student likely means you’re struggling financially. Across the country, college students are being swallowed by a mountain of student loan debt, some of which stems from paying for housing, food, transportation, etc. It’s not just textbooks and tuition that we have to worry about. Sometimes college students have a hard time imagining where their next meal is going to come from.

Because college students struggle financially, many are motivated to buy lottery tickets — especially when the pot gets hefty. But when you really stop and think about the logic of playing the lottery, it’s really not worth it. Our unrealistic optimism is what keeps us going to the register to pick out lottery tickets. However, if you’re a college student who is frequently picking up lottery tickets, you should probably think about how much money you’re spending on hoping for a win. Here are eight reasons why you shouldn’t be buying lottery tickets if you’re a college student:

via Pexels.com

1. You’re literally throwing away money.

Even if you’re only buying one lottery ticket per week, you’re still spending a significant amount of money on a monthly basis just attempting to win the lottery. You might think it’s only a couple of dollars here and there, but over time, you’re spending quite a bit of money on playing the lottery.

Just $5 on lottery tickets per week can turn into $20 per month, which is over $200 per year! Think of all the snacks and gas that $200 could buy.

If you do this over the course of four years during college, you’ve spent almost $1000 on lottery tickets. Insane.

2. The chances of winning are tiny.

They say it’s “one in a million” when it comes to your chances at winning the lottery. But it’s more like one in one-hundred million… or more.

Why waste time and money playing a game that’s likely to never come to fruition? Are you really that motivated by the possibility that winning the lottery could make you a millionaire?

3. Even if you do win, taxes will be deducted from your earnings.

Winning a large sum of money can be exhilarating. But going home with lottery winnings is significantly less than what you thought it was going to be. Taxes will take a large chunk out of your earnings. So before you get all hyped up about becoming a millionaire, remember that the government benefits from you winning the lottery as well.

4. Professionals say playing the lottery isn’t worth it.

If you ask Forbes.com, they’ll say playing the lottery isn’t worth it. There’s an entire mathematical set-up for weighing your options — should you play; how much should you spend on a ticket; what are your chances; how much money will you actually go home with… etc.

5. You have a better shot at winning a scholarship.

Before you start banking on winning the lottery to pay off your student debt, apply for scholarships that are available. It’s more likely that you’ll win at least some kind of departmental scholarship versus winning millions with the lottery.

Even if you only secure a small scholarship, at least it’s something. 

6. Scholarships are more readily available.

Taxes won’t be taken out of the scholarship you win for school, and it’s likely that those options are more readily available. Instead of waiting for the lottery jackpot to get big, organize your search for scholarships and sift through the ones that are available for all students.

7. Playing the lottery encourages gambling behavior.

If addiction runs in your family, gambling with the lottery can turn into an addictive behavior. If you’re actively trying to stay away from behaviors that could take you down the wrong path, I would steer clear of playing the lottery.

The mindset that you might win big releases a chemical in your brain that is incredibly addictive — especially if it runs in your family. In order to resist falling into a pattern that could be dangerous, don’t even tempt yourself by playing the lottery.

8. Lotteries target communities that aren’t educated.

College dropouts spend an average of $700 per year on lottery tickets — a substantial amount of money that accumulates over time. Playing the lottery only encourages this practice to continue. Because the thought of winning the lottery excites individuals who are struggling financially, they continue to show up to gas stations and vendors who sell tickets to try and “win big.”

If you’re a college student and you’ve been playing the lottery, it’s time to admit that your time and money is better spent elsewhere. Sometimes we get into this thought pattern of how exciting it would be to take home thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars. But in reality, the likelihood of doing so is pretty small. There are much more productive ways of earning money or scholarships to fund your education, so it’s probably time you started looking into other options.

Not only is it unreasonable to think that winning the lottery is in the cards for you, you’re wasting money on buying tickets that could be paying your bills! Sure, it seems like $2 per week is a reasonable amount of money to spend on lottery tickets, but over time, that really adds up.

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