smart spending

How big numbers trick you to spend

Ever been in a convenience store on the day of an unusually big lottery draw? Then you understand Money Rule No. 79: "Big numbers make smart people do stupid things." I'm Jean Chatzky, and this is Money Rules.

When the lottery jackpot isn't big enough to make the news, people buy a ticket or two -- or skip it altogether. But when it's part of the morning headlines? The lines for tickets can stretch out the door, and people fork over enough cash for 10 or 20. This happens despite the fact that their chances of winning the pot have actually gone down.

Fortunately, Money Rule No. 79 can be enough to keep you on the straight and narrow. When you're faced with the opportunity to cash in -- whether that means the lottery, a hot tip on a new investment or a new, lucrative career possibility -- sit on your hands for a bit and take the time to think it through. Consult a financial advisor, if you have one, or bounce the idea off of a few friends. Then make a decision with a clear head, without letting big numbers cloud your vision. Your wallet will thank you.

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