Understanding The Psychology Behind Gambling: New Infograph Included

Last week I published, Lottery Commercials Don’t Target People Who Are Good Money Managersin which I explained how I ultimately am not a target for those who advertise lottery tickets.

While I’m not personally opposed to a lottery, I feel I’m good enough at math and good enough at responsibly managing my money than to buy a lottery ticket on a regular basis.

I know that my chances of maintaining an overall better cash flow, for a permanent basis, depend on me having paid off my debts, saving and investing my money afterwards, and not playing the game of trying to impress people with faux status symbols, like leased vehicles; as I explained in A True “Status Symbol” Is A Paid Off One, Including Our New House (Which Is Not).

So I couldn’t help but notice that this infographic below, Psychology of Gambling, seems to back up why I avoid that particular mindset in my everyday life.

The infographic points out the illusion of control, the sense of reward, the excitement of chance, and our natural sense on optimism when gambling…

Or in my opinion, choosing to play the “American lifestyle game” in which we try to impress people we don’t care about with that things we bought with money we don’t have. (I sort of style that line from Dave Ramsey!)


Infographic, courtesy of VegasSlotsOnline.com.



Lottery Commercials Don’t Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

What’s the first thing I’d do if I somehow ran into a very large amount of money?

Lottery Commericals Don't Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

You guessed it. I would immediately pay off the mortgage on our brand-new house. It would be quite the celebration!

Because I know that I’m paying nearly 100% interest for the 1st half of the life of that loan.

I wouldn’t care about a new car, or a boat, or a big trip. All I would care about would be paying off the mortgage.

Then… placing the rest in savings and investments.

From there, I might consider a family vacation or newer cars; but that would be my last priority.

Yet I’ve never seen a lottery ticket commercial or an injury lawyer commercial showing a winner who joyfully exclaims, “With the money I won… first, I immediately paid off the mortgage on my house, then put the rest in savings and investments, so that I’ll actually be making money for the rest of my life instead of losing it quickly just because I have more!”

Granted, that’s what I’d say.

But apparently, that’s not what the targeted audience for lottery ticket winners or injury lawsuit winners would do, based on what is portrayed in these commercials:

When I see these kinds of commercials, I know that the marketing department for the lottery and injury lawyers are not baiting people like me, who have learned the hard way by living in debt for years, but who finally became debt free after following the teachings of Dave Ramsey, and who are now focused on paying off a mortage ASAP, to better save and invest all future income from there.

Of course, I’m not against the lottery or injury lawyers; I see good in what they do.

I’m just simply deconstructing some of the psychology involved in some of their marketing… the way I’ve pointed out in the past that fast food logos almost always include red and yellow as their main colors to try to make you slow down (like you do at a yellow light) and stop (like you do at a red light) for their restaurant.

Lottery Commericals Don't Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

It appears that lottery commercials are trying to make people think that if they regularly “invest” in lottery tickets, they will stand a decent chance of living the rock star (or rap star?) lifestyle, by blowing the money on depreciating liabilities, instead of assets that will hold their value; or in legitimate, profitable investments.

Perhaps this is what the advertisers want people to think when they their commercials:

“You deserve more money than you know how to manage, so once you win, spend your money on consumer items shown in this commercial, ones that immediately lose their value once you buy them, instead of ones that keep or gain value.”

Lottery Commericals Don't Target People Who Are Good Money Managers

Like I said, I’ve yet to see a lottery or lawsuit commercial that portrays the winner immediately paying off their mortgage with the money; then going on to save and invest the rest. I’ve never heard that even mentioned in one of these commercials, yet it’s the very first thing I would care about.

It really shouldn’t be that ironic.

So apparently, people who make lottery ticket commercials and injury lawyer commercials don’t have me in mind as a marketable demographic.

Maybe then it’s not that ironic that back in 1999 when I woke up in a hosptial after having been knocked unconscious after wrecking on a bike, and an injury lawyer was there as I opened my eyes, offering to help me “win the money I deserve,” I politely thanked him, but turned him down.

And for the record, I rarely buy a lottery ticket.

How To Know If You’ll Leave Nashville After You Move There, If You Have Kids

I moved to Nashville from my home state of Alabama on September 11, 2005; over 9 years ago. I was here about a year before I met my wife, who had moved here a year before I did, from Sacramento, California.

How To Know If You’ll Leave Nashville After You Move There, If You Have Kids

We have been married 6 and a half years now and have a 4 year old son.

Something we have recently noticed is this: Married couples move away from Nashville after a few years if one of them doesn’t have close family that lives within “drivable distance.”

A few years ago, my son Jack’s good friend Henry moved to Texas. A year ago, his best friend Sophie moved.

Several of the married couples who we knew pretty well from church also moved away after a few years.

The reason is typically the same: They move back to where one set of their parents live; especially after having kids.

Apparently, Nashville is not the kind of city where it’s practical to raise kids long term unless you have a set of parents who lives within drivable distance, where you could visit and get break around once a month; as well as the major holidays.

How To Know If You’ll Leave Nashville After You Move There, If You Have Kids

Nashville is a great place to raise a family. There is money here, but of course, the lifestyle can be wearisome. It’s was ranked as The Daily Beast’s #44 worst commuted city in America; as of the most recent 2010 census.

As for my family, we are closing on a new house in Spring Hill, a popular and wildly growing “bedroom community” which is exactly 35 miles from Nashville.

In other words, to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle in Nashville, we have chosen to live outside of Nashville, but making our money inside Nashville.

Not to mention, Nashville is the kind of city where, if you want to live that “comfortable middle class lifestyle,” you have to either pay to put your kids in private school, or you have to live the “right” county, which is Williamson.

williamson County Seal

Half of Spring Hill is in Williamson County and we wouldn’t have considered building our new house there if that wasn’t the case; as our new house is in Williamson County.

It is one of the wealthiest counties in America, ranked the #17 wealthiest in the U.S. as of the 2010 census, but surrounded by others which are not; making the Nashville area’s school systems quite different from one another; though just a few miles apart.

In the small town where I grew up in Alabama, you didn’t have to worry about which school you went to. In fact, there was only one “choice.”

But here in the Nashville area, it’s something that hard-working middle class people have to consider and build their lives around.

So if you’re family is planning (or considering) to move to Nashville, please ask yourself these questions…


“Do we have family (like a set of parents) in a drivable distance from Nashville who we could stay with at least every 2 months, to get a break from the fast-paced lifestyle?”

“Does it matter that our kids get into a good school, knowing that the school systems are very polarized based on the income brought in from the people who collectively make up that county?”

school map

Not that those are the only issues to consider, but based on my more than 9 years of experience living here, those seem to be the ones that cause families to move back to Ohio and Texas and Maryland… or wherever else they moved here from.

Feel free to ask me any questions about this. I want to help if you’re trying to figure out if you should move your family here.

Dear Jack: Does Society Owe You Anything?

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: Does The World Owe You Anything?

Dear Jack,

I was born in 1981, the 1st year of Generation Y; a group of people now in their 30s and 20s who were led to believe clichés like “you can do or become whatever you want to be as long as you truly believe in yourself.”

We were also repeatedly told how special we were; causing us to have unrealistic expectations about life once we became adults.

As I entered my teen years back in 1994, being introduced to legitimate sarcasm about life with Green Day’s Dookie album, I started realizing that if everyone is special and everyone can do or become whatever they want as long as they truly believe, then that meant I had a lot of competition.

While I was one of the first in my family to graduate college and that truly was a big deal, I graduated college at a time when, for all practical purposes, the 4 year college degree has now become the new high school diploma.

Life has definitely been harder than I expected it to be; at least in the sense of “first world problems.” Granted, my life as turned out, on the surface, to be quite “textbook American middle class.”

I graduated college, met your Mommy about a year later, got married about a year and a half afterwards, two years later we had you, and now we just bought our first real house which we strategically chose because it’s in Williamson County… the “right one” to be in for schools here in the Nashville area.

While I definitely had certain advantages growing up, no one just simply gave me what I have in life. Through my own parents and mentors, I had access to wisdom which would cause me to make good decisions; but I wasn’t given a free ride, for sure.

Dear Jack: Does The World Owe You Anything?

My life has involved a lot of hard work, patience, and self-discipline this whole time; which I hope is evident in the hundreds of letters I’ve written to you in the past several years.

Mommy and I had to work very hard to work through the tens of thousands of dollars in debt we were in, including college tuition. And we didn’t magically win a big sum of money; instead, we strictly budget what money we make.

The way I see it, society doesn’t owe me anything. Sure, it would be nice if everyone always treated me the way they’d want to be treated and rewarded me on the level I think I deserve.

But for the world to owe me anything, it would in essence mean that if I don’t get what it owes me, then I am a victim; that I am wronged and in need of restitution by those who apparently wronged me.

I just can’t live that way. That mindset seems way too toxic. I choose to live with an abundance consciousness instead of a scarcity mindset.


It’s sad to say, but I am convinced there will be no social security left for me once I retire. I don’t even expect the government to owe me anything, despite the taxes they take from my income.

That’s why I am so motivated to pay off our new house as soon as possible. It seems like the only way to get ahead these days, after paying off all other debts as Mommy and I did in July 2013.

So just as the world doesn’t owe me anything, it doesn’t owe you anything either.

You’ve got me and Mommy to provide for you, teach you, steer you in the right directions, and serve as your ultimate support team.

God has a special plan for you, yet I believe it’s based on you doing your part, and I take responsibility to guide you in learning what that is so that you can become the person God needs you to be as those opportunities arriving throughout life.

I can tell you this: It definitely is based on a lot of hard work, patience, and self-discipline.



A True “Status Symbol” Is A Paid Off One, Including Our New House (Which Is Not)

4 years, 1 month.

A True “Status Symbol” Is A Paid-Off One, Including Our New House (Which Is Not)

Dear Jack,

As your Daddy, it is one of one my responsibilities to help teach you how to manage your money.

These days, it’s not as simple as saving more than you spend. It’s just as much about planning further ahead; decades ahead, as well as investing our money; as Robert Kiyosaki teaches in his book, Rich Dad Poor Dad.

In a modern culture where it’s “normal” to be in debt, Mommy and I are doing our best to lead you by example, in hopes you will likely grow up to have the same mindset.

We worked very hard to earn our “debt-free status” (other than the mortgage) back in July 2013; we lived without smart phones, cable or satellite TV, eating out, pets, or buying any new gadgets or appliances; nor can I deny that having you as our only child has had a lot to do with it.

Really, I’m just now becoming more open-minded to the idea of having another child; largely because we are much more secure in managing our money now, and also obviously because we are moving into a bigger house, which makes more sense as compared to our 2 bedroom townhouse we’ve lived in this whole time, up until recently.


And so with that being our norm and our lifestyle for the time leading up to going debt-free, it’s something we’ve naturally maintained since then.

Without our family being “weird” in regards to living without certain things, it’s an absolutely fact we wouldn’t be able to move into our new house.

For the record, we are not able to buy a new house because Mommy and I are suddenly began making a lot more money all of the sudden; in fact, I make less now that I stopped writing for Parents.com last July.

As you get older, I want you to notice the definite irony in congratulating someone when they buy a new car. Because in almost every case, you’re in essence congratulating them on having to now make monthly payments; the majority of which, at first, goes straight to interest.

They have now inherited a new debt to have to worry about, as part of their family budget.

One of my coworkers, who was a banker for a couple of decades, likes to say this: “Those who understand how interest works, charge it. Those who don’t understand how it works, pay it.”

I recognize that, in reality, the commonly perceived glory of that new car will essentially be gone by the time it’s paid off; since it’s a depreciative asset, unlike a new house. The true glory is when the car is less shiny and impressive, but is paid off.


It used to mean something to see a person driving a nice new car. But these days, it typically just means they’re making payment.

Why should that impress anyone?

Nearly anyone these days can go into more debt by financing a new purchase; not everyone can buy something in cash.

Or if it’s not a car, we can use other examples of perceived status symbols: clothes, electronics, house furnishings, vacations…

However, a true status symbol is a paid off one. Like Dave Ramsey implies, being mortgage free is the new retirement.

I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot here lately we are exactly 2 weeks away from closing on the new house we are building.

There for a while, it looked like there was a good possibility my paid off car was going to be totaled, when I was hit by an albino deer the night before Thanksgiving.

Thank God, I missed the “totaled” criteria by a couple hundred dollars. I am so grateful that I won’t have to worry about a new car payment, in addition to our mortgage payment on our new house.

A True “Status Symbol” Is A Paid-Off One, Including Our New House (Which Is Not)

I get to continue driving my 10 year-old 2004 Honda Element with 143,000 miles on it! I am so happy about that.

With that being said, our new house is not a true status symbol. Unless we strive to get ahead of the game, it would take 30 years to pay off our new house; I would be 63 years old.

That’s why it’s going to be one of our new challenges to figure out strategic ways to pay off our mortgage early. In a strange way, it’s something I look forward to.

I recognize that for the first 15 years of that 30 year mortgage, the overwhelming majority goes straight to interest, not to the principle. I’m very passionate about taking advantage of the situation by paying as much as we can on the principle whenever we can.

Until we pay off our new house, however many years it ends up taking, our new house is just like any other financed, perceived “status symbol” a person can have.