Manage Your Inheritance or Windfall

Have you recently come into an inheritance or windfall? People often make very emotional decisions with their money. In times of bereavement or excitement, financial choices are made which many people later regret. These can be confusing and complicated times especially if you don't have experience with managing unexpected money. Stress will undoubtedly play a factor in your decision making process.

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Some people feel guilty about inheritance and others are just so busy settling the estate, that they become overwhelmed trying to complete all the tasks laid at their feet. Since we all deal with our stress differently, some people are prone to spending money on things that give them instant gratification. Celebrations can include extravagant purchases and lavish whims which quickly deplete new resources.

A great example of this was a young man in his last semester of college. His mom died suddenly, leaving him with an inheritance of nearly $150,000. Having never had this amount of money before, he quickly blew through nearly a third of the money on trips and showing generosity to friends.

What he didn't realize is that those same friends would not be there for him later when he lost the remainder of his inheritance in a failed investment made to a friend's business. He had realized late that he should invest the money, but he had no idea of how to evaluate a business. Like many people do, he heard an idea that seemed to make sense and saw this as his opportunity to become rich. He was broke, living out of his car within a year. 

To avoid being "that guy" you'll want to make a commitment to yourself today to only spend a percentage while wisely investing the rest. This could be as little as 10% or as much as 50%. The number is based on what you're comfortable with spending before a windfall blows through. When you find yourself with an unexpected sum, you'll have a plan already worked out that wasn't tainted by excitement or sorrow and you'll be more likely to stick to it.

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Be sure to put it in writing and find someone to hold you accountable. It's important that you don't make an emotional decision on what to do with the money. Once you feel like you have a plan, take a few more days to think it over. Seek input from those around you who understand finance and have a proven track record of success. 

Speaking to a financial planner is a great idea. There may be special tax consequences associated with taking distributions on your inheritance and you'll want to review any investments that were left behind to be sure they're right for you. 

At the end of the day, the key to saving is having a detailed plan and executing it.