We were talking recently with our children about various financial matters, reading back through an older series of articles on money management with them and talking about the included principles (important ideas such as the 10-10-80 plan where you give ten percent to God, save ten percent so to build an emergency fund, and plan to live on the eighty percent remaining) when we got to talking about risky investments and gambling, and all this led to talking about the lottery.
Lotteries, of course, are designed to make money for those who run them. (If you were thinking that they are beneficent organizations, think again!) They gain this money by taking it directly from those who can be enticed to “play” with their hard-earned dollars. We were reminding our children that it’s never a good idea to buy lottery tickets; they might as well rip their money up and throw it in the trash because it’s rigged to be a losing proposition longterm. While we were talking though these things, it occurred to me that there is a way that someone can win the lottery every time. So I told the children that if they’re ever standing in line in the grocery store and are tempted to buy a lottery or scratch-off ticket, they can take the five or ten dollars they would have spent on tickets out of their wallet or purse and move it to their own pocket, considering it “spent.” Then take that money home, put it in an envelope and stash it in the back of a little-used drawer. If they are ever tempted again, they should follow the exact same steps—as many times as it takes. Eventually, someday, they will find that envelope tucked away in the back of the drawer, and they will be a winner twice over. First, every dollar they ever spent on “the lottery” will still be theirs to spend again on something wiser, and second, they will have learned that a little can add up to a lot over time.
Remember that even small purchases multiply. If you buy just five dollars’ worth of scratch-off tickets a week, you will have spent $260.00 by the end of the year. If you continued that same habit for five years, you would have spent $1,300.00! Who among us couldn’t use $1,300.00 (or more as this is a very conservative example, given that many people spend much more than that on lottery tickets, and that for decades running)? Do your children a big favor: Talk with them about money while they are young…not just one conversation, but many conversations over time. Teach them how to give back to God, how to save for a rainy day, and how to live within their means on what remains. Teach them that money is a tool and that God expects them to use it wisely. He calls us to be stewards, and we will give an answer to Him someday for how we used the talents (financial or otherwise) that He bestowed.
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” I Corinthians 4:2
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