Receiving a lump sum of money can be both exhilarating and scary all at the same time. You know you have a big opportunity to make the money matter and yet you are fearful that you will make a mistake in what you do with the money.
I would consider a lump sum anything that is over what one paycheck would be for you.
Not to worry there are some steps you can take to ensure that you make smart money moves with any lump sum of money.
The number one most important thing to do when you receive a big sum of money is to take your time before you make any decisions. Your emotions may be running high and that is the worst time to make financial decisions. This is true whether you got the money from a sad occasion such as a death or a good occasion such as winning the money. When dealing with a sad occasion such as a death give yourself at least a month or two and up to a year depending on how close you were to the person. With happy occasions depending on the amount of money you could wait a weekend to a few months, just make sure the exhilaration has calmed down. Put the money in a savings account and then take the time to process your emotions.
The only time you want to skip the waiting period is if you are in deep financial trouble, such as about to lose your home. Then take only what you need to pay off your delinquent debts, and save the rest for later. This is especially important as the extra emotions from being behind in your bills paired with the emotions from receiving a lump sum can make for big money mistakes.
In order to decide what to do with the money you first need to understand what you need to do with the funds. Create a list that has everything on there that you have to do and want to do. Include everything from buy a new couch, paying extra on house mortgage, pay for college and vacation.
If your lump sum of money comes from the death of a spouse and you need the money to cover expenses you need to create a budget. This will help you determine how you need to invest the money.
Now review your list of things that you want to do with the money and prioritize them. Once you have the prioritized list you may go down the list in order of what you want to do with the money. Remember this is a great time to give yourself a leg up on bigger goals such as retirement and debt reduction.
If the money is needed for living expenses, take the amount you need each month and estimate how long you will need that. For example if you need the money until the kids are on their own in five years, and need $2,000 a month, then you will need a total of $120,000. If you have enough to cover this amount, then make sure you put that money in a safe place for access, preferably a money market or savings account. Even though you may feel you need a bigger return than a savings account remember that you are counting on the money and do not need to take any risks. (More advice on where to save your money)
If you need the money to create income because you don’t have enough then you should consider investments that will accomplish that for you without risking the money. Work with a reputable investment person for this, as there are many options depending on your needs. At the same time, you should be evaluate other ways you can cover that expense gap, such as extra income and expense reduction.
You will want to be extra cautious of fraud. Sadly there are people who would love to relieve you of this money. Keep these in mind:
Once you decide begin to carry out your plans! By taking extra time and really assessing what you need to do with the money, you are sure to not make a mistake!