Smart Things to Do With a Sudden Windfall

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated December 4, 2017

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Personal Finance
December 4, 2017

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

If you’ve recently received a sudden windfall of cash, either from an inheritance, winning the lottery or some other event, you may be wondering what to do with all that money. A sudden impulse is, of course, to go out and spend it, purchasing items for the home or going on a nice vacation. But without a solid plan, it can be all too easy to quickly spend more than you meant to, and before you know it, all the money could be gone.

Consider these smart things to do with a sudden windfall before engaging in any action with the money — you’ll be glad you did.


Suddenly coming into a lot of cash can be very exciting, and you may be tempted to let everyone you know about it. But this can open the door to a lot of unwanted attention. Suddenly friends and family that you haven’t talked to in years may be knocking on your door or calling your phone. Tell only the people that need to know and you’ll be much the happier for it.


Depending on the situation, you may need to pay taxes on the money you’ve received. Determine how much that is and set it aside, not to be touched. This way you’ll be sure to have it come tax time.

Take about 10 percent of the windfall and use it for your enjoyment. This ensures that you get to enjoy some of the money without accidentally spending much more than you meant to.

With or without the aid of a financial planner, you should develop a plan for the rest of the money. Consider both short- and long-term goals such as paying off debts and planning for retirement. A financial plan will help you better manage all your money responsibly.


There are many things you may wish to do with a portion of the money. Consider these options when you are working to determine your goals and developing your financial plan.

  • Paying off debts
  • Paying off a mortgage or purchasing a house
  • Setting aside an emergency fund
  • Setting aside money for your children’s college education

With a bit of patience and planning, you are far more likely to enjoy your money along with peace of mind and happiness, going from rags to riches rather than going from riches to rags like many others have done.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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