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Lottery Losers

Nov. 3, 1999

6 numbers prevent some from saving up 6 figures

A recent poll conducted by the Consumer Federation of America Primerica, a financial services firm, found that one quarter of Americans would rather win their retirement nest egg through the lottery than save and invest throughout their lifetime.

Twenty-seven percent of those polled said lotteries and sweepstakes are their 'best chance to obtain a half a million dollars or more in [their] lifetime.'

The survey is indicative of the recent 'live in the now' trend sweeping America. The desire for instant gratification paralyzes the notion of saving for the future. Living day-to-day is becoming commonplace in a country that has experienced an economic boom in the past few years.

'If Americans understood that their chances of winning a big lottery jackpot were 10 to 20 million to one, but that they could accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars through regular saving, more families would put $50 away rather than spending it on gambling or unneeded consumption,' said Primerica Chairman Joseph Plumeri.

College students are particularly prone to bad saving habits. Many students have expendable income for the first time when they move away from home, and the habits they form are the basis for a lifetime of spending. As a freshman, it is seemingly much easier to spend $20 at the mall than to contemplate mutual funds for the twilight years of life.

The actual numbers when examining investments are staggering. If a person saved $25 weekly at a 7 percent annual yield, they would have accumulated $286,640 after 40 years.

However, the idea that millions of dollars are only six lucky numbers away is simply too tempting for many.

Americans need to break from the impulse to spend the last dollar in their pocket on a slim-to-none chance at becoming a millionaire, and realize that the only sure bet is to save your money