The false-hope tax

I don’t play the lottery. I don’t gamble at all… well, other than when I say or do something I might get stabbed for… but I never gamble with money.

This is nothing to do with religion nor the famed Scottish parsimony. I don’t gamble for one simple reason. I am no damn good at it. I never win. I can’t win a 50/50 gamble and have no chance at a 14 million to one shot. So I do not play the lottery.

It surprises me that so many people do and it surprises me more that, on average, the Brits spend £416 a year on it. I spend nothing on it and can’t immediately think of anyone who does. Therefore some people are spending what could amount to a fortune in the hope of winning a fortune. Which, when you think about it, makes no sense.

You know, if you just kept the money in a jar, you’d be better off.

The lottery funds all kind of pointless crap we’d all be better off without, using money we’d all be better off with. Why give it to them? Sure, you might one day win that million-pound jackpot but chances are, you won’t.

Even if you do, look at the horror stories of those who did. Hounded by dodgy investors and begging letters, their lives ruined and now destitute. You really want to win that? Really?

The lottery is pointless. If you want to gamble for a chance at riches, go for premium bonds. At least you can get your money back if you get fed up of trying.

The article in the link talks of the alternative returns on the average lottery spend. Mine is zero and so are many, many others. Which means that many are way above the average.

If that’s you, go for a savings account. If you are losing that much money every month on a false hope tax, imagine how much better off you’d be in an interest-paying savings account.

Or you could just spend it on booze. You’ll still be skint but you won’t care.

Works for me.

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31 thoughts on “The false-hope tax

  1. It’s always funny to see people filling out lottery forms at my off licence on the appropriate day. None of them looks like he can afford that fiver. I saw one last week refusing to leave the counter until he’d scratched out his (losing) numbers on his scratchcard.
    The odds on a carefullly-crafted parley are far better and the skim is only (only!) about 20%.

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  2. For most people, the best investment they can make is paying off the credit cards that are charging them 25% annual interest! Think about it… who would turn down an ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED PROFIT of 25% on an investment? But if that’s what your credit cards charge,then that’s exactly what you’re getting when you pay them off.

    You could try to argue that the downside is that you can’t simply take your “principle” out and spend it…. but… yes you can: you can simply run up more charges if you need to. Yeah, that kind of defeats the purpose, but at least you’ve saved yourself that 25% for the time you left it in there.

    – MJM, Investment Advisor To The Rich*

    * The rich destitute i.e.

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    • When I was living in UK, I had a wallet full of credit cards – I could have bought a small house with the amount of credit I had available on them. But I used them, which meant I’d get the bills every month. With having a small business, cash-flow was variable, So I invariably ended up with a stubborn balance of a couple of grand on each of them, with the attendant usurious interest. And they even charged me a monthly fee for my Amex card. So when I sold up and came to Greece, I paid all of them off and closed the accounts, and I now operate with only debit cards. If I haven’t got it, I can’t spend it. It’s great – no more WTF! moments when the credit card bill drops through the letterbox and reveals what a bloody idiot you were buying that new thingummy on the card.

      It has removed a lot of stress from my life, giving up credit cards. Really, they should have warning labels, plain packaging and graphic images of CC bills with the interest highlighted. And maybe we should get them banned from bars and restaurants too. I mean, just think of the potential damage to the cheeeldren.

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      • Credit once rendered me homeless so I am very wary of it now. I pay cash or debit card for everything. One active credit card in case of emergencies because I run my finances very close to the wire these days, but rarely used.

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    • Credit cards are extremely dangerous. Useful in emergencies but I have seen people use them in the pound shops – WTF? You can go in those shops with ten pounds and not be able to carry it all home!

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  3. I lived in a smallish village just outside Falkirk for twenty odd years. During that time we had 2-3 pools or lottery winners. One of my mates frequented the local bowling green and enjoyed a wee cider or several. Anyway, one of the lottery winners also went to the bowling club bar. Basically he was pretty much doomed.

    If he bought the drinks he was being flash Harry and if he didn’t he was mean, kind of sums it up really.

    I suggest that people entering the lottery should be subject to taking an exam which would measure their understanding of how a large win would impact their lives. Weed out the “we’ve won the lottery and we’re going to get a new stair carpet or a couple of secondhand bikes for the bairns”. Big vision is required. The first being NO PUBLICITY. That should reduce the begging letters etc.

    A neighbour used to jokingly say that if he won the lottery he’d buy M&S sandwiches for his lunch. Ha ha ha indeed.

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    • I won’t win the lottery because I never buy tickets. It doesn’t seem to affect my odds of winning by all that much.

      If I did though, I’d carry on as normal – but drunker 😉

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  4. I once tried to get a syndicate together in the office when there was a triple roll over. My American boss was not amused. He referred to it as ‘paying your dumb tax’!

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  5. I lived in West Lothian for about five yrears, in that time I knew 15 or 16 people that won on the lottery.

    O.K, not the million, but one was as high as 250K, and all the others were above 100K.

    The odds on the million maybe astronomical, but on smaller amounts, not as bad as they would appear.

    At least not for West Lothian.

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  6. If I ever won the lottery, I’d be reasonably frugal with it. Nice house, reasonable car etc. None of this “His n hers” crap, helicopters, ferrarris or coke fueled swingers parties..

    As for all the begging letters, it’d be a case of “It’s getting a bit cold in here, young un, throw another sack of begging letters on the fire will you…”.

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  7. Really p*ssed off a lottery-addicted workmate with my foolproof system for making a profit on the lottery: “Buy shares in Camelot. They tax farm the people who failed maths and stats.”

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  8. I play the lottery, always have, first in Germany in the 80s and then here in the UK after they allowed them. I know it’s a Tax On Stoopidity and that if I had saved that £30 a month…

    BUT Legiron, but…if I don’t continue to play ‘my’ numbers a week and ‘my’ numbers did one day come up then I’d just have to hang myself.

    So my message to The Cheeeldren is : JUST SAY NO!….just don’t start cos the moment you do, you’ll be hooked for life….which is what THEY want. Lotto is the new smoking.

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    • I buy one of the Greek lottery tickets about six times a year, just when the mood takes me, and for the very reason you point out I always use totally random numbers, different every time. Always using the same set of numbers traps you into never missing a draw.

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    • Got caught with that about ten years ago in a lottery syndicate at work. It took moving to a new work location to break me out of it.

      As you say… what if the syndicate wins the week after you drop out? It never did though.

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  9. While I will agree that the lottery funds some truly useless crap, my daughter and a great number of her peers have benefited directly from the lottery. I’m talking about small, local charities that run social clubs/outings for disabled adults and children, not the big multi-national barely worthy of the name charities, (a pox on all their houses!). The criteria is very strict and it’s very difficult for these type of groups to qualify.

    These small influxes of cash give parents, (and others) a small break from the seemingly never ending round of fundraising to keep these services running and give our children some semblance of normality. Not to mention giving family members a bit of a break.

    I’m not trying to spoil your fun, or suggest that all the projects that the lottery funds are worthy. I just wanted to point out that occasionally good work is done with the money, imho.

    There is also an argument to be made for the whole “whatever gets you through the week” school of thought. Some people smoke, (raises hand), some drink, some binge on chocolate or whatever. If buying a lottery ticket and the thought of winning, no matter how miniscule the chances, stops you from going postal on your friends and neighbours, then I’m all for it 🙂

    Right, I’m going to get off my soapbox now and go back to lurk mode lol

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