Who is most likely to blow a lottery win - and why?

Sarah Coles
hands with coins isolated on...
hands with coins isolated on...

We're not to be trusted with a lottery win: a new survey asked people what they would do if they won the lottery, and 12% said they would blow the lot - making it the most common answer of all. Meanwhile, 8% would invest it in a property, fewer than 4% would use it to buy stocks and shares, just over 3% would save it, and 2% would give it away to their loved ones.

The survey, by Lottosend, found that people in Scotland were most likely to blow the lot - 18% compared to just 6% in Northern Ireland. The Welsh were the most likely to buy a house, and the Northern Irish were far more likely to invest it than anyone else.

Women, meanwhile, were most likely to spend it (13% compared to 11% of men). They were also far more likely to buy a house (11% compared to 6%). Men, on the other hand, were more inclined to invest it (5% compared to 3%).

None of this comes as any surprise at all to the behavioural scientists, who highlight that a number of factors are conspiring against us when it comes to making the most of a windfall. A 1999 study showed that people assign money to different mental accounts, and how they receive that income has a huge effect on the mental account they put the cash into. A big win is simply less likely to make it into practical mental accounts marked 'pensions' and 'saving for the future'.

If for example, we were to receive £10,000 from an elderly relative in their will, or save up £50,000 through a lifetime of frugal living, we might feel reluctant to blow it. If, however, we won the money, we'd have no qualms.

The speed at which we come into the money makes a huge difference too. We don't have any real grasp on absolute wealth, because we can only make comparisons between different levels of wealth. Suddenly having £1 million lottery jackpot will make us feel instantly richer than we were a moment ago - and therefore more profligate. By comparison, we know that the savings we have built up over a lifetime don't make us any richer today than we were yesterday, so we're more likely to spend it wisely.

The combination of these two factors means that the vast majority of lottery winners will spend it all within five years.

The good news is that knowing all of this could help protect you - if you were ever to win. Some people will be able to step back from the thrill and think about the future. Others might know they have no ability to keep calm and spend sensibly, so they need to see a financial adviser to help them consider the long-term.

So now you're fully prepared. You're not going to make the mistakes that everyone else makes when you win the lottery: you'll make sensible decisions that will keep you rich for life. All you need now is that lottery win....

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