Six Money Tips for the Latest Powerball Winnner

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Gloria Mackenzie
AP
On Wednesday afternoon, the winner of the largest sole jackpot in U.S. lottery history stepped forward to claim her winnings. Gloria C. Mackenzie, 84, bought the winning $590.5 million ticket at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida.

Mackenzie will take a lump-sum pretax payout of $370 million. And while the odds of winning that much money are steep -- 1 in 172.5 million in this case, according to one estimate -- it's not uncommon for people to come into a sudden windfall, such as an inheritance.

We won't presume to begin to tell Ms. Mackenzie what she should do with her winnings, but she might want to consider these first steps, compiled for DailyFinance by financial expert Lynette Khalfani-Cox.

1. Do Nothing for a While

If you get a particularly large windfall -- like a six or seven-figure payout -- you might be tempted to take major steps, such as making a very expensive purchase, offering a huge donation to your favorite charity, or even investing a large portion of money in the stock market.

But experts warn against hastily doing anything with a financial windfall. Instead, take at least a few weeks, preferably even a few months, before making any significant economic decisions.

"Don't make any life changing decisions for at least the first six months such as quitting your job or moving," recommends Mark Cortazzo, a Certified Financial Planner and founder of MACRO Consulting Group in Parsippany, N.J. He adds: "Don't spend more than 10% of the total lump sum in the first 12 months."

But that's not to say you can't have fun -- just do it in moderation.

2. Enjoy Yourself -- Within Reasonable Boundaries

Diahann Lassus is a Certified Financial Planner and the president and co-founder of Lassus Wherley, a fee-only wealth management firm headquartered in New Providence, N.J.

She thinks it's a bad idea for windfall recipients to put themselves into a financial straitjacket and never enjoy the money. Instead, she says: "Plan on taking some percent of it, maybe up to 5% or so depending on the size of the windfall, and then just go out and have fun to get that out of your system."

Afterwards, Lassus says, you should get serious thinking about the longer-term opportunities your windfall could provide.

3. Put Your Financial Windfall Into Perspective

Once you have your fun with a windfall, it's time to put your newly acquired money into perspective. "People often think, 'I'm getting all this money and I'm going to be rich,' but that's often not the case," Lassus says.

So consider this question: How much money are you really working with? For example: $500,000 is a huge sum of money, but it's a far cry from $5 million. The latter would be enough for most people to retire on quite comfortably. But depending on your age, personal goals and current levels of savings and debt, $500,000 might not be a sufficient nest egg to ensure a secure retirement.

Whatever the case, you should also think about what you want the money to do for you.

"Will it pay for your kids' education, pay down your mortgage, or pay for next year's vacation?" Lassus asks. Bottom line: consider what are the critical goals you have, and determine how the money can help you meet those goals.

4. Set Up a Separate Account

When big money comes your way, it's easy to focus on one aspect of the money: how to spend it. But you should also think about where you'll keep it. Experts say it's best to separate it from all your other accounts -- especially your checking account.

"Get it out of your checking account and put it into a special savings or brokerage account so that it's treated separated," Lassus says, "because we all know what happens to our checking account dollars. That money kind of goes into a black hole and gets more quickly spent."

5. Get Professional Tax and Financial Advice

Numerous financial complexities will likely come into play if you're the recipient of a large financial windfall: everything from gift taxes to income taxes, estate issues and more. Therefore, it's definitely advisable to seek out some professional advice concerning properly accounting for your cash, managing it wisely and using it to build wealth.

You may need to establish a trust, secure special type of life insurance, or perhaps get basic documents like a will created to make sure your beneficiaries are provided for in the event of your death.

For all these reasons and more, if you get a windfall don't be penny wise and pound foolish, and mistakenly think that it would be a "waste" of money to hire a qualified CFP or financial adviser for help and advice.

"Be aware of the tax impacts of all large transactions," says Cortazzo, the Parsippany, N.J., CFP. "What you have in gross dollars and what you net after taxes can be a very different number," he adds, "and if you are budgeting based on gross amount, there can be a big shock when the tax bill comes due."

6. Put a Buffer Between You and Family/Friends

Lastly, try to avoid becoming a human ATM machine for those around you.

As anyone who has come into sudden wealth can attest, the act of receiving a huge pile of money often leads to requests for financial gifts or "loans" from needy family members and friends -- including some relatives you didn't even know you had.

Because many of us don't know how to establish financial boundaries with relatives and friends, it can be emotionally taxing to deal with requests for money, especially those that come with hard luck tales or sad sob stories about how another person got into a financial bind. (Just ask Sharon Tirabassi.)

Still, it's important for windfall recipients to shield themselves from a constant stream of people requesting handouts. Otherwise, your kindness can be exploited. You may wind up making unwise economic choices due to your own feelings of guilt, or due to the emotional pressure and manipulation exerted by others. Either way, you may later resent your generosity, feeling that you squandered money by giving it away so freely.

One way to avoid this problem is to have a trusted third-party serve as an intermediary to handle all requests for money. This person can be a close, responsible family member, or a neutral, financial adviser who can offer you some perspective.

Winning money, inheriting assets or somehow reaping a big financial windfall can seem like a dream come true. But if the money is too quickly spent or is just flat-out mismanaged, even hitting a multi-million dollar lottery jackpot can become a bittersweet event.


U.S. Lotto Winner Takes Home $371 Million


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11 Comments

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chadmyrick1

These suggestions don't apply to someone with $275 million after tax dollars. They apply to someone who won maybe $1 million.

But to the genius who said to not quit working for six months at least...you're nuts. If I win anything over $1 million, my butt is out the door.

June 05 2013 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chadmyrick1's comment
George Jr.

a miullion is not alot of money these days. with a million after taxes (depending on where you live) you will have 600,000 left. that seems like alot but if you buy a home for 250,000 and a car you almost spent half of your money there. you might want to change your 1 million to 10 or 20 before you walk out the door

June 06 2013 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
happy Jack

How can they advertise the Jackpot is 590 million when they only give you 370 million. In other Countries if the poy is 100 million you get the 100 million and then pay taxex on what you make from it. Just a big fraud .

June 05 2013 at 10:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Buckingham's

She's 84 years old, and probably won't live very many more years. She should make out her will, and go on a spending spree like there's no tomorrow. Live it up, kid.

June 05 2013 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kuntheer

with a a lump-sum pretax payout of $370 million even if the Gov takes almost half, that should leave her almost 200 million, and she is 84 years old,
http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa/life-expectancy-female

I would say spend whatever you want to, and don't worry about it running out.

June 05 2013 at 7:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kuntheer's comment
George Jr.

278 million after taxes

June 06 2013 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
steve

can anyone explain how you invest all that money [about $275-million after taxes].........you have to deposit the check in a bank, right ?,.....do you set up a family-trust ?,.....would all that $$$ be insured in a bank....?,....i've yet to read anything on this !

June 05 2013 at 6:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to steve's comment
George Jr.

thats what you would have to look into when you won that amount of money. i don't know if i would trust it in a bank. i always said if i won that amount of money, i would build a room in my house that had 3 foot thick concrete walls with 3 inch thick steel in the middle and on the floors as well. then i would buy gold and silver and have some cash around.

i know the smaller banks insure up to $250,000. you would need alot of banks with 278 million.

i'm sure you could put that into a really big bank, but would YOU trust them with your money????

June 06 2013 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teenagerinsac

Excluding a spouse of course :) He can have some:)

June 05 2013 at 5:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
teenagerinsac

At 84, she should enjoy herself, and keep the leeches at arm length, including any relatives :) It will insure that she dies without problems of a family type, since she won't be giving them any :)

June 05 2013 at 5:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
arenadood

If you are over 60 years old, spend the heck out of the money while you can still enjoy it.

June 05 2013 at 4:39 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply