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Can You Afford to Play the Lottery?

Not if Powerball comes before your bills

2. Set limits — and stick to them

Even if you have plenty of disposable income to throw at lottery tickets, set a limit on the amount you'll spend. Decide how much money you're willing to lose ahead of time and stick to that budget no matter what. Never spend more to try to recoup losses.

Don't just limit how much you spend on lottery tickets but also how often you play. Just because you go to the supermarket three times a week doesn't mean you should play the lottery each time you go. Nor should you spend hours on end picking numbers.

Figure out how much time and money you can reasonably devote to the lottery. How many times a week, month or year do you want to play? How much? As with any budget, when you reach your limit, stop — even if you have money burning a hole in your pocket.

3. Guard against a gambling addiction

Lottery tickets, at a buck apiece, don't seem like a financial burden. But if you buy lottery tickets every time you hit the pharmacy or stop for gas, those dollars can start adding up fast. Make sure you only spend what you can truly afford to lose.

Are you dipping into savings to buy scratchers? How about diverting funds set aside for monthly expenses such as groceries and utility bills to Powerball purchases?

You should treat lottery tickets like any other form of entertainment. You sock away money for dinner out or an evening at the movies, right? Do the same with playing the lottery.

"If you're not addicted, then there will be no problem," says Wexler. "If you're addicted to it, you'll spend more than you intended to or want to."

Talk to a trusted friend, family member or health care professional if you're concerned about gambling addiction, or contact an organization such as Gamblers Anonymous.

You may also like: Lost lottery ticket? Here's what to do.

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