We have all seen the ads. We have all been caught up in the whirlwind of excitement when the lottery hits those massive figures. $50,000,000 the TV screams. One ball can change it all! And we start dreaming. What could you do with all that money? Year-round holidays, a big fancy house, quit your job and drive a Ferrari. These are the things that dreams are made of.
I will admit my mind has pondered the life I could lead if I had so much money. I have had some very selfish thoughts, of what I could buy or what holiday I could go on, but I also think about the good I could do, the lives I could change, the charities I could support, the possibilities seem endless.
A while ago I had a conversation with the Lord, I said “God if I could just win the lotto I could do so much good in the world.” Almost instantly I received this rebuke from God, “Jarred, if you are not willing to change the world with your current finances, what makes you think you will do it when you have money?”
As always, God was right. It cut deep to my core. If I wasn’t willing to go without certain luxuries in my life right now, to help those more in need, there is little chance of me doing anything differently. Haley and I do not waste money on the lottery, or buy scratchies, or place bets on any sport. Ultimately, we would be playing these games of chance for nothing more than bettering our own lives and who knows how we could change if we happen to win.
You got to be in it to win it, is what some people say. If not me, then who? But the odds of actually winning a division 1 lottery ticket ranges from 1 in 8 million all the way to 1 in 76 million. As a Mathematics teacher I can reliably inform people reading this, that these odds are incredibly unlikely, but week in and week out millions of Australians play their favourite numbers, in multiple lotteries hoping that they can be that 1 in 76 million who wins the Powerball.
A report by the Australian Government from 2015 on gambling activity found that the 6.8 million regular gamblers in Australia spent an estimated $8.6 billion on gambling a year. The breakdown of this was (42%) went to lotteries (21%) for Electronic gambling machines and (15%) went to race betting. The study estimated that the regular gambler spent $1272 annually on gambling.
What could you do?
Are you one of the 6.8 million regular gamblers? Do you spend almost $1300 a year on games of chance? As mentioned before, the odds are very much stacked against you, but do you know what makes a difference 100% of the time? Finding a worthy cause to put that money into. There are many worthwhile charities out there. Haley and I have supported and continue to support a few different charities, because they need the financial support and because they are worthy causes.
If you own a car, have a steady job, food on the table and a bed to sleep in, you are amongst some of the richest people on earth, but unfortunately in our materialistic world we crave more and more and are never truly satisfied.
Some of us need a reality check, some of us need to see what it is like to live in the slums of India, some of us need to take shelter from mortar fire in Syria and some of us need to starve on the plains of Africa in order for us to realise just how much we actually have.
A one time commitment of $30 can pay for a person in a third world country with vision impairment to get their eye sight back through surgery.
A monthly commitment of $50 can help save the lives, provide support and educate orphaned children in Africa.
Now think about the 8.6 billion dollars spent each year on the lottery, slot machines and race horses, imagine even for one year that people decided not to gamble, but use that money for good. Imagine the change that could be brought about. The lives that could be changed, the poverty that could be ended, the diseases that could be cured, it would seem the possibilities are endless. But I fear, that this year and the next we could see more of the same.
The only difference maybe that more money is spent on chasing the unreachable dream of being stinking rich. Meanwhile those who really need the support, suffer with disease and poverty, while the rest of us eat our meals, get into our warm beds and play our favourite lotteries.
A friend once said to me, “I don’t give to charity, because we will never end poverty.” This may be true, but it is terribly short sighted. Poverty may not end as a whole, but we might just be able to help one person out of it or even a whole family and change their lives forever, and this is why we should spend our money thoughtfully.
Jarred is an HPE and Mathematics teacher on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he is married to Haley and has three beautiful children Chelsea, Nathan and Ryan.