Winning the lottery is not all that it’s cut out to be

It is no secret that the average college student is constantly strapped for cash; when finances are scarce people often look for ways to make a quick buck. A rational person would get a part-time job or cut back on spending, but a fair number of people do not always do the rational thing; instead, those people buy lottery tickets.

Every day millions of people across the state of Florida walk into a gas station or convenience store and decide to play the odds, hoping to cash in big. What they fail to realize is lotteries are basically taxes in disguise, taking a steady amount of citizens’ money out of their pockets and into state coffers.

First of all, regardless of which lottery he or she plays, a person’s chances of winning are about 1 in 1 million. To put that in perspective, according to surveys conducted by the National Weather Service, the chances of being struck by lightning in a lifetime are about 1 in 6,250. On the other hand, winning the lottery does not mean that all of a person’s problems go away.

Consider the story of Rhoda Toth that ran earlier this week. Toth, 53, won $13 million dollars from the Florida lottery in 1990. Twenty years later she lives on $1,084 a month after losing her fortune, her house and her husband, who died of a heart attack brought on by stress from dealing with the IRS. William ‘Bud’ Post III faced similar troubles after winning the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988. Post’s own brother hired a contract killer to kill him and his wife; he died penniless and alone four years ago.

If you want to get rich the easy way, save that $5 a week and put it in a 401(k). You’ll be thanking yourself later.