A quick fix? Don’t bet on it.

Last weekend, I had the experience of watching people light their money on fire and let it burn to ashes in an effort to get rich. Sounds crazy, huh?

OK, I admit I’m exaggerating. They weren’t exactly holding flaming dollar bills. But they were doing pretty much the equivalent. You see, I was staying in a hotel with a casino last weekend, and I was practically required to walk through the gambling floor every time I left my room. And, let me tell you, that casino was a full house.

I swear, every seat was taken—slots, tables, you name it. And everyone was dropping bills like they were monopoly money. Sitting at a cafe, I watched an elderly couple feeding crisp $100 bill after $100 bill into side by side slots for maybe a half hour. They probably dropped $500—I hoped it wasn’t out of their retirement fund.

It didn’t make sense at first. With vultures practically circling our ailing economy, why were people throwing more of their paychecks away? Doesn’t everyone know the house always wins? But later that day, it happened. I caved (it was peer pressure, I tell you—my friends were egging me on!) and I put $10 in a machine. Small change, I figured, and what if I win the $10,000 jackpot! I didn’t. Rather than walk away, I put more in because I felt guilty—and a little desperate—about wasting the first bill. Man, once that $30 was gone, I had to drag myself away because the urge to get it back (or get more) was so strong. All of a sudden I knew why all those people were there.

Humans (even normally rational, intelligent ones) are always drawn to the idea of a quick fix. Maybe that’s why some say gambling is recession-proof. Digging yourself out of debt is a lot of work. Wouldn’t it solve all your problems if somebody just handed you a fortune? The reality is that, unless you can count cards (illegal, by the way), you are not going home rich. Very few people win big and most of those are compulsive gamblers who’ve spent way more than they got back over the years. And as for those lotto tickets you buy every week? The odds are stacked at least a million to one against you.

After I got over my initial shame at wasting money, I had a thought. Watching your budget is like being on a diet. Not a fad diet, where you eat only cabbage and orange juice or whatever, but a healthy, well-balanced diet. And when you eat a slice of cake, you shouldn’t feel so bad that you binge and eat the rest of the cake, too. Just pick yourself up and get back on track. Learn from your mistakes and do better.

Of course, I realize it’s not always that easy. If you think you have a gambling addiction, don’t hesitate to get help. But if can’t pull yourself away from the slots or the Super Lotto because you think it’s your only shot at paying the bills, it might also be that you have too much debt. To find out, contact a DebtStoppers attorney to take advantage of our free, personalized debt analysis. Because you shouldn’t have to bet on your future.

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