A higher paycheck than you were expecting; a sudden repayment of a debt you’d long forgotten you were owed; a compensation payout; an inheritance– whatever the cause for an unexpected influx of money, your finances will likely look a lot healthier because of it.
The one problem with windfalls is that they tend to be difficult to deal with correctly. While on some level you know you should do something constructive with your unexpected wealth, on another you’re thinking “shopping spree” or “move into a new apartment”. After all, this is money you didn’t expect and never had to budget with, so why not treat yourself?
While there’s nothing wrong with a little “treat yo’self” action, it’s also worth keeping the below thoughts in mind…
How much of a difference could that windfall make to your debts?
If you have manageable debts that you’re paying off and that are under control, it can seem pointless to try and repay them with your windfall. The debts aren’t problematic, debt is fairly normal in this day and age, and you want to feel that you enjoy that unexpected money.
However, paying down debt with your windfall — or at least some debt — can be seen as treating yourself in the future. Without having to budget for monthly repayments to credits, you’re going to be able to treat yourself for many months to come thanks to the budget surplus you’ll be able to enjoy. Use some of your windfall to offer partial settlements on tax debt or pay off your largest credit card, and you’ll continue to reap the benefits of doing so for months to come.
How much money could your unexpected money earn you?
One of the best ways to use an unexpected amount of money is to use it to earn more money, which you can then rely on for a boost to your monthly income.
There are a few ways you might want to consider achieving this goal. The most obvious is savings and the stock market, both of which can generate decent (though not great) returns. Additionally, you could consider peer-to-peer lending, which offers a higher degree of return on investment, or even starting a side business that can continue to earn you money for years.
Would you buy the items you want to buy if you didn’t have an influx of money?
Finally, the above question is well worth asking if you’re intending to buy items with some, if not all, of your unexpected windfall. If you’re going to use the money sensibly, then you should only buy items that you genuinely wanted anyway, rather than buying items just because you can.
It’s very tempting to just indulge yourself when you have cash burning a hole in your pocket, but sticking to items you already knew you wanted — and already had a purpose in mind for — is the best way of ensuring that you use your funds responsibly, while still allowing a little room for indulgence.
Unexpected money is always a bonus and, by thinking through the above questions, you can be sure that you make the most of it.