Years ago, when my father was still alive, I remember my mother complaining about his activities. She’d discovered he was buying international lottery tickets and sweepstakes tickets. She kept finding stubs from money orders where he’d purchased sweepstakes or lottery tickets. My parents lived across the street from a shopping mall, so while my father no longer drove, it wasn’t impossible for him to walk across the street and find a place to buy money orders. At the time, my mother was venting about wasting money on a foolish expense. “Nobody ever wins these,” she ranted. “How much money was he wasting?” she fussed. “He could use that money for something else. He could put it in the bank and let it draw interest. Or just give it to me and I’ll find a use for it,” my mother promised.
As daughters sometimes do, I listened without too much comment. My mother needed to vent. And I let her. While she was complaining, I was busy congratulating myself on my goodness. Although I hung out with folks who did, I never played numbers. I didn’t place bets on the horses or sports teams. I never bought lottery tickets or went into casinos to gamble. I didn’t play poker or other card games either. I was right there with my mother. I couldn’t understand how folks like my father wasted money on foolish games and buying dream tickets that turned into losing nightmares.
A few years later, how things changed for me. Going through major calamities such as suing for divorce and child custody can change financial situations and ideas about
earning money. I was still working in government … the city. Overtime was scarce. If I was lucky enough to earn it, I had to pay a babysitter, which ate into the overtime, making it almost not worth it. I started looking for other ways to make some quick money.
Back then, New York State had the legal lottery games. Certain parts of the city still had illegal games of chance. I didn’t like either choice. I love reading magazines. I started noticing ads for purchasing sweepstakes and lottery tickets. These weren’t just any sweepstakes or lotteries. These were international sweepstakes and lotteries. Once I bought one ticket, that purchase opened the way for invitations and solicitations to purchase sweepstakes in many different countries. The idea sounded classy, different, and unique. I bought into the idea hook, line, and sinker.
For the next two years, I bought tickets and played in sweepstakes internationally. Every time I received an envelope with a foreign stamp on it, I just knew I’d won. I had a sweepstakes routine. I loved building up the suspense before I revealed the winning sweepstakes ticket I just knew was inside that envelope with the international stamp.
I gathered all the mail for the day and brought to my bedroom. I closed the door because I didn’t want any negative vibes to enter. I laid all the pieces of the mail on my bed. I opened everything … all the mail for the day but the special envelope. I took my time with each piece of mail. I read them carefully, then decided in which stack to place them: the stack containing bills or the junk mail stack to throw into the circular file, or the keeper file because it was a letter from my mother or another relative. The last thing I did before I opened the envelope was to review my wish list of how I would use the million dollars.
I kept up my foolish behavior for two years. I wasted at least five or ten dollars a week or more on losing international sweepstakes tickets. I finally took stock of my finances. At the time, the city was offering workers the ability to save in something like a 401K Plan. I thought I couldn’t afford it until I did some quick math. I realized I’d invested in a crappy deal and spent over a thousand dollars with nothing show but losing ticket stubs.
Nobody could convince me how foolish I was either. Until I was ready to listen; until I saw how foolish I was; until I realized what I’d lost; until I realized how expensive it was; until I found something better, I was hooked on purchasing international sweepstakes and lottery tickets.
I’m retired now. Soon I’ll be able use some of those savings from my city retirement plan to do things on that list I made years ago. I’m not here to lecture anybody about gambling on tickets or gambling in casinos or gambling in life.
I’ll just say: Be good to yourself. Examine your options. Talk to your folks. Learn from other’s experiences. Then do you.
Remember to RESIST, ENLIST, INSIST, & PERSIST.
Thanks for reading,
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