Mega Millions: The Odds are Never in Your Favor

A few weeks ago, people crowded out gas stations across the country for a shot at winning the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. It was wishful thinking, of course, but what’s $1 when it might just be your ticket to paradise?

It turns out that $1 per play adds up pretty quickly. Americans spent nearly $1.5 billion for this single drawing. Let’s put that in perspective: $1.5 billion could send nearly 10,000 students to Harvard tuition-free for four years; it could buy more than 3 million new iPads; or, if you prefer green, every single teenager in the U.S. ages 15 to 17 could receive a crisp $100 bill in their mailbox.

That’s a ton of money blown on the slim chance of getting rich.

The lottery is a tax on the poor and people who can’t do math. In a country where people desperately need jobs, $1.5 billion was thrown away. We’ve either got a serious problem with our math skills, or we’re a nation of educated adults who chose to ignore the numbers.

Ticketholders had a 1 in 175 million chance of winning the jackpot. You’ve got a better shot at being struck by lightning or becoming president of the United States. Maybe you’ve heard of The Hunger Games? In District 12 of Panem, you’d be 99.8 million times more likely to have your name drawn in the reaping. If you’re hoping to win the lottery, you might also want to keep an eye on the weather, start working on your acceptance speech, and brush up on survival techniques.

Still wishing you could be that one?

Callie Rogers was 16 when she won $3 million. With more money than most adults make in their entire career, Callie should be enjoying the good life. Instead, she went broke and attempted suicide twice. At 22, she is now a single mom raising two kids and cleaning homes to make ends meet.

“My life is a shambles and hopefully now [that the money is] all gone I can find some happiness. It’s brought me nothing but unhappiness. It’s ruined my life,” Callie said in the Daily Mail Reporter.

You can hit the jackpot.

When it comes to the lottery, the odds are never in your favor. But the good news is that you don’t need luck if you have a plan. Here are three sure ways you can win with money without throwing your money away:

  1. Build character before you build wealth. Wealth makes you more of what you already are; money just amplifies your character traits. There’s nothing wrong with money in and of itself, but if you don’t have the character to manage it, it can absolutely destroy your life. Building character is like growing a muscle; the stronger it is, the better equipped you are to carry home the big bucks.
  2. Separate your needs from wants. You might want a brand-new Porsche, but all you really need is a reliable way to get from here to there. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” It’s okay to buy some wants; you need to have some fun with your money. But your wants have to fit into your overall plan.
  3. Fund your own lottery. Did you know that investing $100 a month for 40 years at the average stock market growth rate comes out to $1.1 million at retirement—every time? Not one time in a gazillion. It pays off every time! Just a hundred bucks a month. That’s pizza and cable money for most people!