The Do’s and Don’ts of Winning the Lottery

Congratulations! You beat the odds and played a winning ticket. But, what now?

Winning the lottery may first seem like a magnificent stroke of luck, but as you can see from the tales of some past lottery winners, cashing in on the jackpot isn’t the instant ticket to happiness than it may seem. Fortunately, you can learn from prior lottery winner stories and get a good idea of the do’s and don’ts for using your winnings wisely.

Do: Sign the Back of Your Ticket

One of the easiest mistakes to make is forgetting to sign the back of a winning lottery ticket. Without your signature, the ticket is valid for anyone who lays their hands on it. You may also want to make photocopies of the ticket. Claim your prize promptly, before the window to claim your money closes.

How Long Does it Take to Get Your Money if You Win the Lottery?
Once you’ve turned in your ticket, understand that it can take a while to get the money. The waiting period varies by state. You may have your cash in as few as 10 days, or you may end up waiting six weeks or more

Don’t: Automatically Take the Lump Sum

If you take your payout in installments rather than a lump sum, you can spread your winnings out over a longer period. This may help you avoid the common pitfall that many lottery winners fall into, of spending quickly and ending up broke. Speaking with a financial professional can help you better understand your options.

What is the Percentage of Lottery Winners that Go Broke?
According to USA Today, around 70 percent of lottery winners are broke again within just a few years of winning. Consider lottery winner horror stories like Bud Post, who spent over $400,000 in just two weeks, then ended up $500,000 in debt within a year.

Do: Enlist Professional Help

The best way to tackle massive winnings and become one of the lottery winner success stories is with the help of a professional, or several. A financial planner can help you assess your current debt, income, living expenses, and future needs. This professional can advise you on the smartest way to allocate the funds, covering everything from the debts you should pay first to the best investments. With the right approach, you could make a lottery windfall last a lifetime.

An estate attorney can help you decide how to allocate any remaining money after your death. A tax specialist will help you understand what you’re going to owe on your lottery winnings and investment income, both now and in the future.

What are the Hazards of Winning the Lottery?
Lottery winners who don’t consult with a financial advisor often end up broke, in debt, or in bankruptcy. Evelyn Adams won the lottery twice, but took her winnings to Atlantic City rather than the bank. She lost all her winnings and ended up living in a trailer park.

Don’t: Enlist All Your Friends

Friends often come out of the woodwork when they hear you’ve won the lottery. While you may want to help some close family and friends, don’t feel that you need to spread your wealth to every person who turns up. If you fall in with the wrong friends, bragging about your winnings could be more dangerous than you imagined. Abraham Shakespeare was allegedly murdered by a friend after winning $30 million in the Florida lottery.

Can You Stay Anonymous If You Win the Lottery?
Only five states give lottery winners the right to remain anonymous. Speak with a legal advisor to find out what your options are. Publicize your win as little as possible to keep too many people from coming after your newfound money.

Do: Give Money Where It’s Needed

Many lottery winner success stories center around people who gave away most of their winnings. After paying off your own debts and helping close family members, you can avoid some of the hazards of the “lottery curse” by putting your money toward a worthy cause.

What’s the Best Way to Donate Money?
Avoid investing in business opportunities you’re not familiar with or giving money to individuals that you don’t know well. Instead, consider giving your money to a well-known charity. When Allen and Violet Large won $11.2 million, they donated most of the money to hospitals and other organizations.

Don’t: Spend on Extravagances?

Splurging on a radically different lifestyle is one of the most common mistakes associated with winning the lottery. Even a new multi-millionaire can’t sustain an over-the-top lifestyle forever with lottery winnings. The most successful lottery winners are those who maintained their current style of living. When Ed Nabors won half of a $390 million jackpot, he chose to simply go fishing.

How Should I Spend My Lottery Winnings??

One of the best approaches to winning the lottery is to spend little or no money on new purchases. Use it to pay off debt, fund investments, and support charities instead.

Winning the lottery is an exciting experience, but it’s important to approach your windfall wisely. With the right approach, you can make a difference in the lives your close family members and countless beneficiaries of responsible and reliable charity organizations. Be careful of the lottery curse and keep your money under control if you hit the jackpot, so you don’t have to worry about ending up poorer than when you began.