Folks who have so much spare change lying around that they'll chase insane odds for the right to have even more money lying around are probably tickled that the Powerball jackpot continues to roll over this summer. Fans of the idiot tax are probably giddy as well. Absent a grand-prize winner since mid-July, the 24-state lottery's big catch is now up to $115 million.
Itching to buy in? Scratch somewhere else. If you're not familiar with our stance on state-sponsored lotteries, simply put, we're against them. We're not about to embrace casino gambling as an alternative but at least those establishments treat you to some flashing lights and catchy sounds as they replace your dollar bills with $0.90 to $0.95 in pocket change. The lottery odds are far worse.
Even the Powerball people know it's a bad deal to approach buying a ticket as anything other than a charitable contribution. The game is proud of the fact that of the $1.6 billion wagered last year, $480 million went to fund state projects. That's a 70% payout ratio, which stings even worse than a 30% drop in the stock market because it is perpetual and taxable.
While the odds of landing the lucky numbers are 1 in 120 million, you won't be actually playing for $115 million. That's an annuitized sum, broken down over 30 yearly installments. If you want your cash upfront you'll be walking away with less than $60 million -- and that's before Uncle Sam has a word with you about his cut of that action.
Our advice? If you really want to strike gold maybe you should start by mining for Hidden Gems first.
Rather than buying lottery tickets with money you can't afford to lose, isn't it better to work towards saving more money? How can you stretch that Powerball dollar further by holding on to it? All this and more -- in the Living Below Your Means Discussion Board. Only on Fool.com.
And don't forget, The Motley Fool is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month with 10 Ways to Make More Money Now!