“TOSS THAT 401K—BUY LOTTERY TICKETS”
As I write this, one of the lottery games, MegaMillions is mega millions indeed—to the tune of about $900,000,00. For $3.00 you get two ( 2) tickets with chances to win the jackpot ticket, that’s a non-annualized return of 300,000,000%. Play “just the jackpot”; forget about the paltry $2 or $1,000,000 win. Go big or go home. That’s even better than managed accounts.
What about probabilities, you say? Well, if you had an average performing managed account, you’d have about a 1/85 chance of out performing the S&P 500 index. Look at your $3 lottery ticket. What you have is either a winning jackpot ticket or not. TWICE. That’s 50/50, 1 in 2—for each any way you slice it. Common sense tells me that one of those tickets should be the winner. Call NetJets while you wait. Way better odds of beating everything on a $3 ticket. Plus, there’s the added intrinsic thrill of the chase as you carefully search megamillions.com the next morning.
Ratchet it up a notch. Say you have $30 discretionary at the end of the week. You could sock it away in your 401k. Maybe you could even get a company match of 3%. What is that; an additional $.30?
OR, you could buy 10 lottery (just jackpot) tickets. That gives you 20 sets of numbers that each has a 50/50 chance of winning the jackpot. Thats real odds of…Ok, I have no idea, but still $30.30 in your 401k OR 20 1 in 2 chances at becoming a near billionaire.
But, “taxes” you say- the 401k is tax deferred. If you took the lump sum of say $600,000,000, your tax bite would be $150,000,000, (as long as you live in a state with no income tax, like, for instance, Wyoming) leaving you with after tax, $450,000,000. You don’t pay tax as you take distributions, because you PAID it already. $450,000,000 after tax. And think of your $3 investment paying down 12% of the national debt next Tuesday. You’d be a 15 second hero, like any other celebrity. Why, the ego boost alone is worth the $3.
As far as that 401k is concerned, give it to Habitat For Humanity. You just quit that boring job anyhow. Congratulations, you accelerated your retirement.
As a financial literacy educator, I’d be reticent if I didn’t talk about planning. I’m thinking a simple budget. Say you’re 45. Your life expectancy is 103. Don’t spend more than $9 million a year, hard as that may be. We all have to make sacrifices. As far as what your portfolio should look like, immunize it with government bonds on a laddered portfolio. By the time you cash your ticket, the Fed will have raised the rates again.
Oh, and as for estate planning, we are a national charity under 501c-3, if you have anything left.
Humorist, satirist and occasional finance writer
Executive Director of The MoneyCulture initiative, a 501c-3 charity
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.