I rarely go into convenience stores. When I do, it’s most likely to pay for gas or grab a gallon of milk. Every time I’m in there though, I’m behind someone buying or cashing in lottery tickets.  It doesn’t matter which convenience store I go to or what time of day it is.  There is always someone.

They are winning….$2, $5, $100, $1000, and even more. But how much money do they have to spend to win? Statistics aside, they spend way more than they actually win. And where do these winnings go? 9 times out of 10, the winner reinvests the winnings into more tickets. Inevitably, it goes back into the pot for the next lucky winner. In 20 years, I’ve spent a grand total of $12 on lottery tickets and as I’m writing this, I’m kicking myself for not spending that $12 on something else.  It’s kind of fun to imagine for a moment winning millions of dollars, but then reality sets in.  I’m a fan of the sure thing. I’d rather pay that extra amount toward a mortgage or car payment.  Paying a little extra shortens the length of time you pay and reduces the amount you pay in interest.  It’s not exciting or fun, but it’s baby steps toward your future.

An incredible thing happens when you no longer have a car payment or mortgage. You have a lot of extra money every month to save, to spend, to invest. There are few things I’ve experienced that feel better than owning your own home and the land it’s sitting on. It’s not going to get you on the cover of any newspapers holding a 4 foot check, but it’s pretty amazing all on its own AND you have the sense of accomplishment that you did it. It’s not a random, luck of the draw moment. It’s you, winning at life.

It’s what makes the everyday millionaires, the people you bump into at the grocery stores with their coupons or see at the citywide yard sales.  They aren’t driving luxury cars and dripping in diamonds, they pull up in their Subaru wearing the jeans they just painted the living room in.  It’s a way of life.  It’s not a get rich quick scheme, it’s years of developing a lifestyle and investing in your own future.

Stop getting caught up in looking for the next big win, take that money and invest it into yourself.  Like the saying goes, “The best way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket”.  It’s the truth, but take it a step further and use that money and pay down debt that you are currently paying interest on and you’ve more than doubled it.  That is really winning.  It may be less exciting than winning on a scratch ticket to most people, but I like the rate of return much better.  I don’t need to hear the mega bucks machine announce to everyone in the store that “You’re a Winner”.  Because when I leave the store with my full tank of gas and gallon of milk, I have won.

Kara Addington

I live in a small town in Northern Maine with my husband, daughter, and dog. I scour yard sales and thrift shops for clothing, furniture, and decor. I've been known to rescue items from the trash to...