Betting instead of saving: You reach your financial goal faster if you bet your annual savings instead of saving them. Simply because there would be a pull-forward effect. Someone who regularly makes sports bets on online sports betting sites that are verified by a scam verification site or once told me this or something similar. The idea is probably that you have the chance to reach your target amount from the first year. This opportunity increases with each passing year. When saving you can usually reach this sum after 2-4 decades (but then reach it safely).
At first glance, it sounds quite risky. Maybe even after a generally stupid idea. But let’s take a second look. Basically, you have to compare two strategies and judge which one seems more suitable for you.
- Savings strategy: Every year the amount x is set aside until the sum y is reached.
- Betting strategy: Every year the amount x is bet until the sum y is reached.
The sum y is the amount of money on which we can stop working and live on interest from safe investments.
To compare the strategies, we need to make a few assumptions about betting. These should be reasonably realistic. In addition, they should be easy to calculate and understand so that we do not make mistakes.
Framework conditions for comparison
Let us assume the following framework conditions:
- Assumption: The target sum is 500,000 euros, which we would have taken care of. When we reach the target amount, we can stop saving and betting and live off the interest.
- Assumption: To bet, we go to the casino and play individual numbers on a roulette. Here, the betting odds can be easily calculated – in contrast to sports betting or the like. If we bet on one number, we can increase our capital 35-fold. To further simplify the calculation, let’s assume that there is no “0”. That means it’s a fair game. This theoretical bet has a small advantage over a real one – simply to make it easier to calculate and understand. Thus, the chance of winning a single bet is 1/35 = 2.86%. Conversely, we have a high probability of losing a single bet by 97.14%.
- Assumption: We can save so much each year that a single profit will lead to the target amount: 500,000 euros / 35 = 14,285 euros. This would be 1,190 euros per month and certainly a realistic value for many savers.
Betting instead of saving: The savings strategy
With the savings strategy, it is easy to calculate when we would have reached our target amount of 500,000 euros. We set aside 1,190 euros every month and reach our goal after 35 years. In the meantime, savings continue to increase.
Betting instead of saving: The betting strategy
When it comes to betting strategy, it’s a bit more complicated. The savings are usually close to “0” and at some point, they increase abruptly to 500,000 euros. When that will be, we do not know.
If you convert the probabilities into an amount, you get the expected value. This is rising continuously. And it can be compared relatively easily with the savings amount from the savings strategy.
In a graphical comparison, it can be seen that the expected value of the “bet amount” always remains below the savings amount. The savings amount increases every year by the amount of 14,285 euros. The expected value of the “bet amount”, on the other hand, increases by a smaller amount every year. So saving is superior to betting!?
Instead of comparing the savings amount and the expected value of the savings sum, one could also compare the probabilities themselves.
The probability comparison
For 35 years, the savings amount has a 0% probability that the savings amount will be reached. The 500,000 euros have certainly not yet been reached. After 35 years, however, it changes directly to the probability of 100%. 500,000 euros is then saved.
The “bet amount”, on the other hand, starts in the first year with the probability of 2.86% that the sum of 500,000 euros will be reached. The probability increases over the years. But is it also 100% after 35 years? Or at least close?
The following findings emerge from the graphical comparison:
- Purely in terms of probability, the betting strategy is superior for 35 years and then inferior.
- The 50% threshold is already exceeded after 24 years. This means that after 25 years you can “probably” retire, but this is far from certain. Only about every second person who bets would work out this calculation.
- After 35 years, the probability is only 63.7%. This means that there is a very high risk that you will not reach the target sum of 500,000 euros within 35 years. When saving, on the other hand, you would certainly have them. For about two out of three, the betting strategy after 35 would run at least as well as the savings strategy. The remaining third still has “0 Euro”!
Rich by betting instead of saving?
It cannot be denied that there is a preferential effect through betting. However, this is only statistical and almost everyone who relies on the betting strategy will sweat. Because we have in the back of our minds: If you still haven’t won after 30 years, you still play every year with a winning probability of only 2.86%. You can “give yourself the ball”. Or you have to give yourself the roulette ball because it is too late to switch to the savings strategy. The bets are then the only chance to catch up. On the other hand, you can switch from the savings strategy to the betting strategy at any time.
Mind game: Ideal would be a casino that you could sue. You bet for up to 35 years and if you win during this time, you retire early. However, if you never win, you sue the casino after 35 years. Perhaps with the welcome that it has driven you “into gambling addiction,” you demand your gambled money back. In the meantime, that’s 500,000 euros. In a stroke of luck, you could benefit from the pull-forward effect and still enjoy the security of the savings strategy.
Apart from such unrealistic mind games: In general, we did not consider that the savings strategy also offers other advantages. First and foremost, you can generate returns (e.g. with shares) through investments. You can benefit from compound interest and thus perhaps retire after 20 years instead of 35 years. Although the investments are also fraught with risks, total failure is likely to occur much less frequently than with the betting strategy.