Imagine for a moment that you won the lottery. A new survey by CouponCabin.com says 64 percent of U.S. adults say they would "be extremely or very likely to continue to live frugally" and 55 percent would "still be extremely or very likely to use coupons."
The coupon response is probably a comfort to CouponCabin.com should a sudden rash of lottery winners overtake the nation.
These hypothetical lottery winners say they would still shop at discount and dollar stores (53 percent), only buy things on sale (51 percent) and more than a third say they would continue to work at their current jobs (36 percent).
The Daily Dose on MSN Living said, "It's a hypothetical decision about a wildly hypothetical windfall, but maybe the long-lagging economy has had an impact on the way Americans think about lavish spending."
Lavish spending may just not be in, even for hypothetical winners buying hypothetical deals at the dollar store. But the survey gave a "random sampling" of some of the splurges the frugal winners might indulge in:
- Build a homeless shelter.
- Pay for medical procedures that my insurance won't cover.
- Establish a charitable foundation.
- Set up college funds for my children and grandchildren.
- Get a divorce.
- Get rid of my student debt.
- Find a job that I really want to do, rather than work at a place I can't stand just to earn a paycheck.
- Endow a scholarship at my college.
- Buy my parents a home closer to me so I can take care of them.
- Donate 10 percent to my church.
- Make over my home and hire a maid.
- Get prescriptions that I can't currently afford.
- Hire a hairdresser and masseuse daily and have a chauffeur.
- Take my family to Disney World.
- Open an orphanage.
But, as wisebrother.com pointed out, the survey didn't specify how big the hypothetical lottery jackpot was. So it is possible people are not imagining that much money.
The oddest thing about the survey, however, may be the underlying assumption that somebody who plays the lottery would have a frugal mindset in the first place. Can a person be frugal and spend money on something with lottery odds?
Investopedia puts the odds this way: "Depending on which one you play, you have roughly a one in 14 million to one in 140 million chance of winning a big prize. To put this in perspective, each person has a one in 2,320,000 chance of being killed by lightning; a one in 3,441,325 chance of dying after coming into contact with a venomous animal or plant; and a one in 10 million chance of being struck by falling airplane parts. Most people would agree that the risk of any of these events actually happening to them is pretty slim."
Another Investopedia article explained the odds another way: "Let's assume that you went to the largest stadium in the world, which happens to be in North Korea. The stadium was filled to capacity. As part of the price of your ticket, you were entered into a lottery where you could win a new car. In that case, your odds of winning are 1 in 150,000. In order to equal the odds of winning the lottery you would have to fill that same stadium to capacity 833 more times and put all of those people together and have the same drawing for the one car. Would anybody believe that they could actually win in a crowd of people that large."
And who are these frugal people entering the lottery?
Investopedia said, "In California, a study found that 40 percent of those who played the lottery were unemployed; in Maryland, the poorest one-third of its population buys 60 percent of all lottery tickets; and in Michigan, people without a high school diploma spent five times more on the lottery than those with a college education."
Spectrem's Millionaire Corner says winning doesn't always go so well: "(N)ewfound riches have a way of changing people. Just ask Evelyn Adams, a New Jersey woman who squandered much of her $5.4 million on gambling and reckless spending. Or Jeffrey Dampier, an Illinois man, who won $20 million and whose generosity toward family and friends was rewarded with his kidnapping and murder by a jealous sister-in-law and her boyfriend. Or Willie Hurt, who won $3.1 million in the Michigan Lottery, but who, within two years, had divorced his wife and lost custody of his children. But that would never happen to you, right?"