Gambling as a very risky pass time and because it ends up losing punters money instead of making it, we wouldn’t recommend you making it a habit. However if you are partial to a bit of a flutter every now and then, we have found some cheap and safe ways to gamble that can even do a bit of good!
- With The People’s Lottery you’re giving to charity while being in a prize draw
- Premium Bonds are a safe flutter although you’d get more from a high-interest savings account
- Gamble for free with online competitions
- Investing in shares can be a gamble unless you keep your money there for at least five years
We don’t like the National Lottery at all, but we quite like the idea of The People’s Lottery. With The People’s Lottery you’re giving more money to charity than you would with the Lottery and you have a lot more chance of winning something. Three quarters of the money you put in goes directly to ActionAid. The rest is put into a draw.
This isn’t something you can just have a go at every now and then, though. This is how it works:
- You have to sign up to a monthly direct debit, a minimum of £4.34 a month because one play costs £1 a week (which equates to £4.34 per month).
- For each play you get a unique number which is entered into the draw every week (players must be UK residents and aged 16 or over).
- Every week there are five winning tickets drawn at random by a computer.
- As there are currently only about 8,500 people playing it each week you have a much better chance of winning something this way than with the National Lottery.
So with this you can put yourself into a weekly ‘lottery’ while giving to charity at the same time.
For each play, 25p goes into the prize fund and 75p goes to ActionAid’s work to help people around the world fight their way out of poverty. If you would rather all your money were given to ActionAid then consider sponsoring a child through their work. Just 50p a day can transform a child’s life and give a child in poverty the opportunity to receive the education, clean water and health care they urgently need.
The good things about Premium Bonds is that they’re tax free and even if you don’t win anything, you don’t lose the cash you put in.
Also, there’s the chance that you could possibly win the jackpot, which is always a thrill.
However, the big problem with them is on average the return is less than you would get if you put the same amount in a high-interest savings account. In fact, over time your money is worth less and less because it is not growing while inflation is.
That hasn’t stopped thousands and thousands of us buying the bonds in recent years. In fact, they have been so popular in the last ten years that 87% of all existing Premium Bonds were bought between 2000-2010. Paradoxically, though, in that time the Premium Bond prize fund rate – which is the amount paid out in prizes as a proportion of the total amount invested – has dropped and the likelihood of you winning anything has also dropped, (mainly because of the increased competition).
However, if you still want to give it a go, you can put money in through their website at Nsandi.com. You’re allowed to put in a minimum of £100, and a maximum of £30,000. If you do decide to ‘invest’, don’t waste too much money on it, though. Use it as a bit of fun, like a raffle – something to take your mind off other forms of gambling.
One very safe way to gamble, of course, is to do it without putting any money in at all! You can do this online by taking part in competitions or surveys. Be careful, though, as many competitions sites are just spam merchants or worse. However, there are a few that can be trusted and we have a list of them in our online surveys article.
For example, GreatSites is worth a go because every six months a cash prize of £5,000 is given away- not bad for just answering a few simple questions. The site is free to join (as it should be) and once you’ve registered they will email you special offers and surveys based on the information you provided them with (i.e. your profile).
The more you respond the greater your chance of scooping the £5,000, plus you’ll gain access to the various other competitions the company has running.
Many people see the stock market as a scary, risky place to put your money, and in the short term it certainly is. However, if you put money in and leave it for at least five years it stops being a more sophisticated form of gambling and becomes genuine investing which, over time, should make serious money for you.
In fact, if you put money regularly into a cheap, index-tracking fund that tracks the FTSE 100 or the FTSE All-share you will absorb the ups and downs of the stock market over time and gradually create a decent nest egg for your future.
If you want to make it even less of a gamble then wrap it in an ISA (most of the index trackers come pre-wrapped in one anyway – you just have to ask). That way the Government gets less of your tax money to gamble away in its own sweet way!
Horse sense is what stops horses betting on people (W.C. Fields).