How much money have I really lost on gambling?

A common issue that most people face is trying to recall how much money they have lost over a lifetime. When somebody loses they tend to think ,“I’ve just lost \$500”, when instead, they should be thinking “I’ve just lost another \$500. I am now down \$x…[replace with total loss]”.

It’s quite easy – and scary – to estimate how much you’ve lost since you first started gambling.

To do this you ask yourself ‘How many years have I been playing?’ If, for example, the answer is 10, you divide this into 3-4 periods of time – say, year 1, years 2-4, years 5–7, years 8–10.  You then estimate how much you would have lost on a weekly basis and multiply it by 52 to work out roughly how much you would have lost in a year. You then add this up for each year and you will have a rough total of how much you have lost since the beginning. Here’s an example:

• Year 1: \$50/week x 52 weeks = \$2600
• Years 2-4: \$100/week x 52 weeks x 3 years = \$15600
• Years 5-7: \$200/week x 52 weeks x 3 years = \$31200
• Years 8-10: \$500/week x 52 weeks x 3 years = \$78000
• Total losses = 2600 + 15600 + 31200 + 78000 = \$127,400

You can be as detailed as you want by breaking the years into smaller spans. I often find that the last 1-2 years are the most severe so it’s a good idea to do them separately.

Once you know your total loss you can constantly remind yourself when you win or lose. If you win \$1000 you say to yourself “I am now down \$126,400”. If you lose another \$1000 you say to yourself “I am now down \$128,400”.

Putting it into this perspective you can easily see that any win is lessened by the total amount you are still down, and any lose is even more significant, making it harder to shrug off.

So don’t tell yourself how much you’ve lost today. Tell yourself how much you’ve lost over your lifetime!

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