I Won $50,000 From a Scratch-Off Lottery Ticket and Bought a House

Downstairs neighbors were trying to evict us.

That was September 2021. I was 22 years old and worked as a paraprofessional in an elementary school in Boise, Idaho, making $9 an hour. My salary wasn’t much higher there, so I found a roommate who split the monthly rent of $1,900 for a two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the city. We met one night when her dog, a Rottweiler mix, ran up to play with my beloved Labrador Husky, Gaspard. We were both students and I was working towards my bachelor’s degree in finance while she was studying medicine.

Things were going well at first, but as is often the case with 20-somethings with incompatible roommates, things quickly took a turn for the worse.

Neighbors initially complained about noise, but things escalated when roommates started inviting friends over to their house. They were getting drunk, playing loud ping-pong games and blaring music late into the night. My roommate also left his dog in the kennel for over 8 hours at a time and the dog was barking for someone to let him out. Neighbors were fed up with the situation and filed a formal complaint with the management company to evict us.

I was also fed up with our living environment. Most of all, my roommate was frequently behind on bills, and I had to borrow over $2,000 a month from student loans to keep up with rent and utilities.

In an attempt to plan an escape, I searched a rental listings site for a pet-friendly one-bedroom apartment for under $1,700 a month, but there were none. I found a cute house room on Facebook Marketplace for just $500 a month. However, after reading the description, I changed my mind. “A single man and her one room are available for her single woman aged 18-35.”

Imagining the next chapter in my life helped me cope with the stress of my current living situation. I spent hours browsing Zillow, looking at mobile homes, duplexes, and “handyman specials” for sale.

I couldn’t afford to buy a house at the time. My income wasn’t enough to save meaningfully and I owed about $40,000 in student loans. But I scrolled through the list as if money wasn’t a concern, given the quality and trade-offs of each home. I also started checking my credit score weekly using a banking app. The score hovered around 750. I knew this score would one day help me get a good interest rate on my mortgage.

I never thought this day would come sooner than I imagined.

Over the Christmas holidays, I packed up my car and drove four hours down the icy highway with Gaspard to spend time with my family in Idaho Falls, Idaho. When my brother and sister arrived on Christmas Eve, we played a game my mother invented called the “bucket game.”

The objective is to win a scratch-off lottery ticket by tossing a beanbag across the room into a 5-gallon bucket. When it was time to play, we gathered in the living room and waited for her mother to bring the $150 worth of tickets she had received from the gas station.

After a few rounds, I kept missing buckets, so my ticket pile was clearly less than the others. When I took it off again, my mother allowed me another turn, and when the beanbag came in, I grabbed her $5 silver Her Bell Holiday Scratcher and added it to the pile.

Once all the tickets were accounted for, we all sat quietly and scratched our tickets. Occasionally one of us would shout his $5 or his $20 win. My Silver Bell ticket had his five winning numbers at the top he was 47, 44, 21, 41 and 39. If you find one of the numbers, you win a prize. It wasn’t until I got to the last row of tickets that I spotted the number 39. Just below that number was a $50,000 cash prize. I sat there quietly and reread the rules.

“I think I won,” I proclaimed into the room in disbelief.

We all scrambled to look up the tickets and agreed it was a win, but just in case we got in the car and drove to the one gas station in town that was open on Christmas Eve. I approached the scanner and checked my ticket. The blue screen had the words “Winner” in small print.

I offered to share the money with my family, but my brother said I should keep it. He and my family were so happy for me. They didn’t want a penny of my winnings. Thanks to their blessings, I now have a clear idea of ​​what I want to do with that money. It’s buying a house.

The following Monday, I was given a check for $37,000 at Lottery Headquarters in Idaho, saying that I could prepay taxes on my gambling winnings.

Next, it was decided to find a house that I could afford. All the time spent on Zillow over the past few months has been useful. Because they knew the market. I knew I could buy a house for between $90,000 and $150,000, but I wanted to stay on the lower end of that range. My goal was to make my monthly mortgage payment as low as possible and pay more than my regular rent.

After expanding my search to all of Idaho, I found three homes that I loved in Pocatello, which I visited a few times as a had reputation Because it is one of the most dangerous cities in the state. A Zillow real estate agent has offered to visit the home and give a video tour. After seeing his first home, he called me and said, “I won’t let you live in this part of town.”

The second house tour was underwhelming. The third house was smaller, but had a large yard and didn’t need immediate repairs. It was listed for $120,000, so I told the real estate agent I was interested.

The agent gave me the mortgage banker’s contact information to get the loan pre-approved. The only difficult part of the pre-approval process was income verification. Moving to Pocatello meant I had to quit my job at elementary school, which I loved so much. To meet my income requirements, I found a call center sales job that paid $15 an hour instead. Thanks to my credit rating, new source of income, and down payment, I was able to get pre-approved for a $150,000 loan.

When I went to Pocatello on a snowy day to see the house in person, I fell in love with it. 100 years old and 700 square feet, it was the perfect size for Gaspard and me. The front and back yards were spacious and the bathroom had a lavender tub. The floor was a little slanted, but the character made me want this house.

The real estate agent offered $117,000 plus a deposit (goodwill deposit) of $3,000. The down payment was $23,000. A home inspector inspected the house to make sure it was in good health. The banker I worked with was on the phone regularly and answered all my questions. He explained that it was good to buy now because interest rates would rise sharply in the near future. My mortgage interest rate is his 3.375% and the monthly payment is $591.

I gave my roommate a month’s notice that I was moving. She was upset and she rejected my offer to help find a new roommate, but it was for the best.

After deducting the cost of moving, I had $7,000 of my winnings left in my savings, and five weeks after winning the lottery, I settled into my new home.

I’m 24 years old and will be graduating from Idaho State University in the fall with a degree in Finance and Marketing. I quit my call center job. Instead, I make about $5,000 a month from his TikTok videos. On TikTok, I grow my following by talking about my life.

The vast majority of people in their 20s find it impossible to be a homeowner. The cost of living is so high that no matter how hard young people try to work and save, it can be difficult to get ahead. If I hadn’t won the money, it would have taken me years to buy the house, and it’s hard to say if the loan interest rate would have been higher or the monthly payments would have been more affordable.

Gaspard now has a one-year-old Labrador Husky brother named Garbanzo. We love living in Pocatello, with its friendly people, beautiful hills and mountains, and easy trails. I never imagined it would make me feel so at home.

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