Until a few years ago, I wasn’t a gambler. I didn’t really believe in it. What use was it to spend money on something that MIGHT get you more money? Because 9 times out of 10, it probably won’t get you anything at all! At least when you waste money on clothes or shoes, you have something to show for what you’ve spent, even if you have immediate buyer’s remorse.
But gambling is essentially throwing money away in the hope that at some point, the garbage bin will spit back at you with much more money than you’ve given it.
Of course, having that attitude doesn’t stop you being sucked in if you win! Such was the case with me back in 2008. I had just moved home to Pennsylvania in what I thought was a permanent move (don’t get me started!), and I had bought a car and rented an apartment, but I didn’t have a job or anything else lined up and was really hurting for cash. My friend, Brookie, was about to be married, and only two or three days after I had got there, she held her bridal wedding shower.
It was great to catch up with loads of high school friends I hadn’t seen in years, and when I was invited to the “after party” up at the local casino, I was enthusiastic to keep the evening going. We thought we’d have a bite to eat at the big fancy buffet and then do a little gambling. While we ate dinner, I made a suggestion – since we’d all be gambling, why didn’t we agree in advance that if any of us won big, we’d split it six ways? I was met with scoffs of derision. If they won, they’d be keeping their money, thankyouverymuch.
So off we went. I spent some time scoping out machines, looking to see what each of them were like before committing. I had budgeted $50 for the evening, and I was gonna stick to it. On the first machine, I made a bet which cost me 5 cents. I won! Exciting!
My friend, Wendy was seated beside me, and since I’d never understood how to figure out winnings, I watched the numbers spin around, and I wondered aloud, “How much did I win?” I figured it was around $5. But it kept going. I started thinking $50, and I was really happy. But again, the numbers kept going. I leaned into my friend and said, “How much have I won?” She looked over at me, and her eyes got wide. “I think you won the jackpot!”
I turned back, convinced that it was wrong. But maybe I’d won $500? No… numbers kept going. The lights were flashing around me, sirens were going off, and people were starting to gather around.
I’d won $5,000. H.O.L.Y. C.R.A.P.
I called my dad to tell him the good news, and Wendy started calling all our friends to get them to come over. They clearly thought she was joking, but they made their ways from around the casino to join us and were completely amazed to find out the win was real.
Of course, that’s when the rest of them started kicking themselves that they hadn’t agreed to share all winnings. But I’m not totally heartless. I gave each of them $50, as I figured that would have paid for their expenditures of the night. I would have given more, but I knew I’d be paying tax on the whole amount, so I didn’t want to end up totally screwed.
Anyway, $5000 is never anything to sneeze at, but honestly, it came around at the exact perfect time in my life – a time I desperately needed it. I was able to pay my rent for months in advance, buy some furniture and take my time finding a job I’d love.
I vowed then and there that I would not gamble again, as fate had seen fit to sort me out, and that was enough for one lifetime…. But when you’ve won big… you just want to do it again. It’s such a high. It makes you want more. And you start to get greedy.
I’ve spent a TON of cash (a lot of it belonging to the long-suffering Mark) on casinos, lotteries and bingo. I’m mad for it. I got the bug and I find it really hard to resist. I’ve had a few good wins here and there, a few hundred bucks in Vegas, some minor lottery wins here in the UK. But I’m constantly chasing that BIG score.
So if I won the lottery…
I think first of all, I’d be in big trouble for playing it in the first place. We don’t have the money to be throwing around in search of a big payday. So I’d likely be getting a bollocking for the potential waste of money.
But that’s okay, actually, because now that I think of it, I probably wouldn’t admit to winning anyway… I’d squirrel the money away somewhere, bringing it out in tiny increments when we needed it. Mostly because Mark and I completely disagree on the best things to do with money. He wants to own every house in the world, it seems. He’s done well in property investment (we’re about to buy our 4th house, after all), but I think the best place for it is in the bank in a high interest account.
I would very likely admit a modest win (assuming the total was at least a million), something like 100K which could pay off our houses, buy us a new car and have a little nest egg. The rest, I’d put somewhere and every so often claim a little win to help us through a rough patch.
Oh who am I kidding? I’d create accounts for those I loved. A bit of a trust fund for Dexter to make sure he doesn’t start his life out in debt. A big bunch of cash for Mark to start his own business, something he would love to do. I’d give a little nest egg to each of our family members to make their lives a little bit easier.
Mostly, I would try and conserve as much of it as possible for the days when we might really need it.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see, eh?