When surprised with a sudden windfall, it can be impossible to think straight. What should you do with the money? What do you want to do? There are an overwhelming number of possibilities—what should you think about first? Don’t let this excitement overcome your ability to find the best use for your money. This article helps give you some ideas to help you know what you can do with your sudden acquisition of wealth so you don’t have to do all the thinking.
Pay Off Debt
The first thing you should consider doing with your sudden windfall is paying off any debt you may have. One of the best ways to use your money to save you from losing money is by paying off your debt. The faster you pay off your debt (especially on high-interest debt), the more money you save in the long run. This includes paying off your credit cards. Though it may seem beneficial to carry a balance to increase your credit score, this is simply not true.
Imagine the mental load and the stress that comes from not having any debt. Imagine owning your future income without having to pay your past self. Imagine how much you could do with your financial independence. In fact, being debt free leaves you freer to do the other things on this list.
Save for College
College is hard. College is expensive. College is even harder if you have to work long hours to make ends meet. College is also an important aspect of your children’s future, and they will be grateful for any help that you can provide. Consider using the money to invest in this aspect of your children’s lives.
There are different perspectives of the pros and cons of helping your children pay for college. Some believe that it takes away too much responsibility off the heads of their children, resulting in them not valuing their education. Other parents fear that it would be impossible for their children to make it through college without all their tuition paid for them.
Here is the secret—it depends on the child and your situation in life. Make the decision that will be best for your family and your children. But consider this—if you don’t make the choice to save for your children’s college now, you may not have the money later even if you want it.
Invest the Money
Investing money is a great way to make sure that your sudden windfall turns into more money. You can make a smart long-term investment in a taxable brokerage account. Investments may seem slippery and complicated, but they are not as intimidating as you might think. Research what options you may have. Consider talking to a financial advisor about how to best invest your money so you can make the most out of your money.
Start a Home Renovation Project
Have you had a dream kitchen in mind? How about a beautiful backyard? Has your bathroom needed touching up for years? Renovating your home and fixing any problems it may have is a great way to use your extra money. It helps improve your quality of life and increase the value of your home.
There are many renovations to consider, both inside and outside your home. One renovation to consider is a deck. Adding a deck has many benefits for homeowners over the long term. A deck is a great place to gather with your friends and family, provides more usable space, and can even encourage a healthier lifestyle by promoting more time outside. Other renovations will add not just add to the quality of life that you have, but the money value of your home.
Add to Retirement
No matter what stage of life you are in, this is the perfect opportunity to add to your retirement. In fact, the earlier you add to your retirement, the less you have to put aside per month, and the longer the money can be working to make you money. Maybe with the extra boost, you may be able to retire early. Or because you’re adding so much now, you don’t have to worry as much later. There is much to be said about removing undue stress from your older self.
Build an Emergency Fund
You can’t possibly plan for all the bumps in the road of life. Some of these bumps are medical emergencies, losing a job, surprise home and car repairs, natural disasters, and others. Building an emergency fund can help you avoid debt by giving you a sufficient buffer to deal with these problems without having to pull money from another source.
Buy a Home
Do you have a home for your family yet? Or have you been eyeing your dream home for a while? Buying a home shouldn’t be a purchase that you take lightly or make too quickly, but a sudden windfall could be just the thing to help you on the path to owning your own (or your dream) home. Though not all sudden windfalls are sufficiently large to pay for a house outright, they can help contribute to your down payment.
Create a Memory
Nothing can replace the memories that you have. And nothing can replace the memories that you help build for other people. As you consider how to spend your windfall, don’t forget about the people around you that make your life worth living.
Maybe creating a memory is helping your family go on that trip to where their heritage is from. Or maybe it’s just a place where you’ve always wanted to take your family. Maybe creating a memory is helping to provide much needed sustenance for another family or helping an organization of your choice. There are many ways to show those around you that you love them and care for them.
Remember to talk some of your ideas out with your advisor—it can do wonders to help you know what will be best for you and your family. Consider what you value most, and put your money into helping you achieve your goals. Not all of your money has to go to one place—in fact, it could be important to set some aside to enjoy with your family now. Whatever you do, remember that it is worthwhile investing in the things that last, like peace of mind, a good life, and a bright future.
Read this next for more great money-saving tips: How to Be More Mindful of Your Living Expenses