Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dollars and daydreams

Dear Internets,

I realized I was unclear on one of my 30 Before 30 goals:

#28 complete savings vs. lottery experiment.

Like most people, I enjoy imagining what I'd do if I won the lottery. However, like a lot of people, I realize that I'm much better off putting the money I would spend playing the lottery into an interest-bearing savings account. My parents, math teachers, and countless personal finance bloggers have drilled this into my head. The logical side of my brain understands and agrees.

However, while I may understand (and embrace) logic, part of me has always been a dreamer. I *want* to imagine what would happen if I hit it big. My fanciful side insists that $1 isn't much at all to spend on a dream. My frugal side firmly disagrees.

Several years ago, I came up with a little "experiment" (albeit a totally unscientific one) that would allow both sides of my brain to feel comfortable playing the lottery. For a year, I'd buy one lottery ticket a week, and put the equivalent amount into an online savings account. At the end of the year, I'd compare the results. Whatever I had in my savings account could be spent on whatever I'd buy if I won that amount of money playing the lottery. (Although frankly, I'd probably put the money into savings. Darn you, logical brain!) However, until this year, I'd never actually put the plan into action.

So far, the experiment has been fun. That moment before I scratch off the ticket is as full of possibility and anticipation as the first day of school. Better yet, the fact that I rarely win even a dollar is softened a bit by the knowledge that I'm putting a dollar into savings. (I probably would have otherwise spent the $2 on a cherry limeade at Sonic.)

It's a silly thing to do, I guess, but it has been fun.

Semi-current totals (I forgot to buy tickets over the holidays, so I need to catch up):
Savings - $35.16
Lotto - $24

Yours ridiculously,


tal said...

this sounds cool, but i am confused, and am totally stupid when it comes to money (which could explain why, at 29 i still am shopping at forever 21 and not real stores, but anyways...) is the $35.16 the amount you invested and interest earned? and is the $25the amount you have won in the lotto minus how much you have spent on tickets? i have had trouble finding a good online savings account, so more details please!! in anycase, it sounds like a brilliant idea for any lotto lovers.

Jane said...

Tal - I couldn't figure that part out either. So I just decided to say I was "spending" a dollar on savings and "spending" a dollar on the lotto ticket so that I didn't have to think about negative numbers so much. :) The $35.16 is how much I have in savings with interest, and the $24 is how much I have from lottery ticket winnings.

Little Ms Blogger said...

I LOVE THIS... My sister and I play the lottery when it reaches a certain point and very little. I'd like to see what happens if I did this experiment and think I will.

Jane said...

Little Ms - Fun! Let me know how it goes!