Updated: Jul 24, 2019
I heard a disturbing statistic recently that I believe to be indicative of many of the financial problems we are facing as individuals and as a society. Americans spend more money gambling than on all other forms of entertainment put together. While I do not criticize or judge people who like to gamble recreationally, I have never found it to be entertaining.
I spent the first part of my adult life poorer than most people in America, and I've spent the last several decades considerably wealthier than most Americans. Earning money is not easy, and I like to receive full value for the dollars I spend; therefore, personally, I do not find losing money in a casino to be entertaining.
The most fun I've ever had with money is giving it away. I wonder if the people shoving their hard-earned dollars into slot machines might not find it more entertaining to spend that money at the mall buying toys that they can give to less fortunate kids in their community; however, having stated my personal preference, if people want to gamble with money they can afford to lose and find it entertaining, so be it. Betting money in a casino is really not a gamble. If you do it long enough and consistently, you will invariably lose money. The odds of winning or losing are calculated and readily available to anyone who wants to learn about it.
Even more dangerous to many people's financial health are the growing number of states that have a lottery. Once again, I have no problem with people buying lottery tickets who can afford to lose the money, but they must realize they are more likely to get struck by lightning and hit by an asteroid on the same day than to win the lottery.
If the average person who buys multiple lottery tickets on a regular basis would invest that same amount of money in an index fund or growth stock mutual fund throughout their working life, they would be a multimillionaire. This is not a risk or a gamble as it would have worked beginning in any year over the last half century. Prudent investing is not a risk or a gamble. On the other hand, gambling is also not a risk as you are mathematically guaranteed to lose over the long haul; therefore, we must conclude that investors win and gamblers lose.
If you fully understand this and still wish to entertain yourself in a casino, that is your business, but I hope at some point-amidst the flashing lights, bells, and whistles-you'll consider the alternatives.
As you go through your day today, remember winning means investing. Losing means gambling.
Today's the day!