Whenever the Powerball jackpot increases to a large number, many folks spend money on lottery tickets. Even after someone wins the big jackpot, folks continue to buy the tickets in hopes of cashing in on one of the smaller prizes.

The recent jackpot winner had the option of receiving the full $758 million over a 29-year period or taking an immediate payment of $480.5 million in cash — before income tax, of course.

What are your chances of winning the jackpot? The data scientists at Allstate report there is a about a one in 290 million chance of winning the big prize. It is more likely that you would become a movie star than winning the lottery. It’s also more likely that you would be killed by a meteorite at the same time as you are being attacked by a shark.

To increase your odds of ending up with a nice sum of cash, how about creating your own winning combination? Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1: Instead of buying that weekly lottery ticket, put that money in your retirement account. Do that every week from the time you are 25 until you are 65 and you will have almost $87,000 (assuming you earn a 6% return).

Step 2: Forego that daily cup of java and put that money in your retirement account. By doing that from age 25 to age 65, you could end up with over $300,000. Add that to your lottery ticket savings and you are getting close to $400,000 in your retirement account.

The trick to ensuring you have a nice pot of money is committing to put money into savings on a regular basis. Dave Ramsey calls this paying yourself first. So, before you buy that lottery ticket or that cup of java, put money in savings. Your future self will thank you.

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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