My first job was working in a small market. In addition to the deli counter and a few aisles of groceries, we sold lottery tickets; and although Sundays were reliably slow, you could always count on selling scratch tickets.
I saw the same people every week. It was like a ritual. They would buy maybe $30 worth of tickets, which they carried to the coffee counter in the back of the store. They would come back a few minutes later, having won something (variably more or less than they had spent) — and they always traded their winnings for more scratch tickets. Then they would go back to the counter; and the process would repeat until their winnings were lost.
I've always remembered that. So when I won $10 on a scratch ticket that someone gave me last week, I traded it for cash. (The clerk looked stunned, as if she had never heard that request. She probably hadn't.)
I heard a statistic on the radio that has stuck with me: Americans' personal savings levels are presently at their lowest point since the Great Depression. With that in mind, let me share a remarkable blog post (three words I rarely juxtapose). Everyone always asks, "What's a good book to help with personal finance?" J.D. Roth has answered — not by recommending one, but by summarizing the bullet points from five.
Roth recently launched a blog devoted to personal finance tips. I'd suggest you bookmark it — but definitely read his original post. Think of it this way: These are five books that were chosen by editors and publishers from among hundreds of manuscripts, and millions of readers have since made all five bestsellers. Roth is giving you an opportunity to digest them in capsule form. It's worth a look.