With the Powerball Lottery now estimated at 1.3 billion, people are imagining what they would do with the money if they won, and buying more tickets to bring them closer to it.
But chasing dreams like this is dangerous for anyone trying to be wealthy- especially poor households, who spend 9% of their income on these tickets.
TV shows and magazines sensationalize the idea of spending money if you are rich: buying fancy cars, living in nice neighborhoods, and showing off stylish clothes.
Thomas Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door, says, “Our youth are told that buying expensive items is normal behavior for affluent people. They are led to believe that the wealthy have a high consumption lifestyle. They learn that hyper-spending is the main reward for becoming affluent in America.”
But Stanley talks about how that false belief of spending more money to prove you are rich actually hurts people’s chances of creating real wealth.
He argues, “Most high-income earners [play terrible defense] but not most millionaires. Millionaires play both quality offense and quality defense. And quite often their great defense helps them outscore/out-accumulate those who outearn/have superior offenses. The foundation stone of wealth accumulation is in defense, and this defense should be anchored in budgeting and planning.”
That means that making- or getting- a lot of money (playing good offense) is not enough to become wealthy. In order to become a millionaire, it is best that you do not try to look like one.
The trouble with lottery winners, though, is they buy into the idea that more money liberates them to simply buy the things that they could not afford before.
But just because you can afford a lamborghini, doesn’t mean you should get one.
Coming into a large amount of money quickly creates the illusion that you never have to worry about money again, no matter what you do. When your income is the only thing that limits your budget, you’ll find that even though your income has increased, your expenses have as well, and you are left with the same amount of money, and same finance issues, as you had before you got a lot of money.
It should not be a surprise, then, that 60% of former NBA athletes are broke within 5 years of retirement.
See, the problem you had was not a lack of money, but a lack of knowledge about money.
If you are poor with your finances, you become one of the 90% of lottery winners who lose their money in 5 years or less.
If you are good with your finances, you will be like lottery winner Sandra Hayes, who paid off $100,000 in student loans, a $70,000 mortgage, and still buys clothes at discount shops six years later.
As T. Harv Eker says, “Money will only make you more of who you are.”
Anyone who believes that money will solve money problems is mistaken. Blindly splitting the lottery money and giving it to homeless people will not solve poverty either.
The only solution to getting out of poverty is developing good wealth building habits or else everything you gain, you will quickly lose. You don’t need to win the lottery to live without worrying about how you are going to pay the bills or what happens if you lose your job.
Because it’s not about how much you make- it’s about how much you save.
George Clason says in his book, The Richest Man in Babylon: “Thou do not all earn the same. Some earn more than others. Some have much larger families to support. Yet, all purses were equally lean. Now, I will tell thee an unusual truth about men and sons of men: That what each of us calls our “necessary expenses” will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to the contrary.”
We would not benefit from the lottery unless we first relearn our habits.
Millionaires spend what’s left over after they save, not save what’s left over after they spend. When we learn to also pay ourselves in that way, we stop spending tomorrow’s cash today and can focus on becoming financially independent.