Handling an unexpected financial gain

At some point in your life, you may benefit from an unforeseen financial payout, such as an unexpected inheritance or a substantial bonus. While a splurge like a dream vacation may be an appealing option, it’s important to first consider how saving and investing can support your overarching goals before you make any major purchases. Here’s some advice that can help.

Financial gain

Learn all the facts

First, understand the potential financial impact of the payout. One area of particular importance is tax planning. An accountant can provide proper guidance, while asking these key questions can help you prepare. *

Will I owe taxes? When will the money arrive? Will it come in a lump sum? Consult with a tax advisor on your specific situation.

Build up your emergency fund

Especially in inflationary times, it’s important to make sure you maintain an emergency fund that covers 3 to 6 months of living expenses.Footnote 1 If your fund has slipped below that level, consider using your windfall to bolster it.

20% of U.S. families have emergency funds that can last for 3 months, 13% for 4 months, 6% for 5 months, 17% for 6 months, 9% for 7 to 12 months, and 13% for more than 12 months.

Consider reducing debt

As interest rates rise, consider using your windfall to pay down existing debt. A higher interest rate can prolong the amount of time it takes to pay off debt, and increase the total interest you’ll pay over that time.

Higher rates can increase the total amount of interest you'll pay.

Fund your future

Use some of the money to pad your retirement accounts. If you have children, put extra away to cover upcoming education costs.

Retirement or college savings

Treat yourself

If your immediate needs are taken care of, your long-term plans are on track, and you have ample cash reserves, go ahead and indulge in some lifeĀ­ enhancing splurges. Check reviews, compare prices, then enjoy.

More tips for managing your cash reserves

As you look toward the future, consider how much money to have on hand. Click below to learn how to have productive conversations about the right amount of cash to keep in your accounts.

Learn how 5 life events impact your cash-on-hand needs. Learn more.
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