By Katie Moore
GreenPath Counselor
Detroit, MI

Recently, CBS Radio Detroit had a story on an upcoming drawing for a large lottery. It is not surprising to hear that when asked, the first thing lotto players would do is pay off debt

Most of us in one way or another where impacted by the recent downturn in the economy.  Even if you were not personally laid off or took a pay cut, you probably know someone who was and saw them struggle. Many of us realized just how vulnerable we are with our finances and that we might need a credit card to cover a hardship, because we have little in cash savings.  Regardless, many of us live paycheck to paycheck and continue to feel stressed.

So I think we have had our wake-up call. Our debt is very real and something that needs to be addressed.  Winning the lottery is certainly one way to pay off debt, gain control of our finances, which for many of us is more important than being able to drive an expensive car or take an exotic vacation.

However, a better solution could be taking part of your lottery ticket money, say $10, and put it in a special emergency savings or holiday account. In a year, that $520 can really be put to good use!

A note of caution: When a financial situation seems helpless, playing the lottery or going to the casino in hopes for a lucky break can be tempting. Playing to excess to get that one big break can lead to financial ruin. 

Although a dollar here or there may not be a problem, gambling to win money to solve financial difficulties could be a sign of a more serious problem. If you feel you have a gambling problem, a good resource is gamblersanonymous.org.