I Won The Lottery, What Now?

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If you win $20 million, what’s the first thing you do? I’m talking the first day, the money’s just landed in your account.

The obvious choice is shopping spree or first class flights — but we’re not one to fall victim to the lure of bankruptcy, we’ve all heard the stories. At some point you have to stop spending and decide what to do with it.

So, realistically, what are the immediate steps after you win?

1. Keep It Quiet

If all your extended family and friends know, it’s only a matter of time until someone comes knocking. Before you know it, people everywhere are asking for cash.

Of course you’ll tell your partner and some immediate family — but the circle of people who know should remain as small as possible.

This is not to say you shouldn’t be generous, you should help people when you can. It’s important to recognise though, giving it away is a finite possibility and should be treated as such.

2. 20% Fun Money

Alright, let’s have some fun. It’s an incredible opportunity, you should enjoy it. If nothing else, get the urge to spend out of your system.

Let’s put aside $4 million, this is money you’re happy to lose. Buy an apartment, a car, take a holiday, whatever you want. Give some to your parents, spend it and be happy.

Take your time too, it’s not a race. If you don’t have fun now though, you’ll only carry on thinking what if. If anything, it’ll teach you how easy it is to lose money spending it on temporary happiness.

Not to worry though, you can take comfort in knowing it’s okay if you lose it all — we’ve put aside another $16 million.

3. 80% Investment

We know that endless spending is not sustainable, but what exactly is sustainable? If you want to earn an income with your money, you have to invest it.

A financial adviser obviously wouldn’t go astray here. Between shares, property, crypto and everything else, finance can be a complex world. Besides, you can afford to pay them.

With just a basic investment strategy — even if you invested entirely in the S&P 500 — it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a 5% return per year. That’s $800k every year on top of your $16m portfolio, you can reinvest half of that and you’re still earning $400k a year. Not bad at all.

4. Learn & Diversify

Your investment portfolio is now your most valuable asset. You may have started with a simple strategy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a more active role in its management.

Now that you’re earning a relatively stable income, take the time to learn about how it all works. Take an interest in understanding how financial markets function, how you’re invested and how you can improve.

As you continue to educate yourself, you may find an area of finance you’re particularly interested in. Whether it’s sustainable business, property development or anything else, investing your money safely in a way that you enjoy is a great way to learn and improve.

5. Find What Makes You Happy

Money won’t make you happy, but it will certainly make you comfortable. It can give you the freedom and opportunity to find what does make you happy, without being burdened by financial pressure.

If you spend the rest of your life concerned only with frivolous consumption, it’ll get boring pretty quick. Spend your time trying new experiences until you find what gives you meaning, what makes you happy.

Build a community, support those in need and make the world a better place for those who weren’t as lucky as you were.

6. Repeat Steps 2–5 Instead of Buying The Ticket

The reality is that not a single person reading this will ever win that $20 million. While I don’t deny that it’s nice to dream, I think it’s more important to channel that motivation into practical ideas you can start with today.

As long as you have an income, you have everything you need to start working towards the financial bliss I’ve described in this post. The internet and the technology it’s built on has created an era of financial accessibility never seen before in human history.

You may not be able to invest 80% of your income, but as long as you can start with 1, 2 or 5%, you have more than enough. Just as well, the internet has an abundance of free resources that will teach you how to get started — start with Google or Wikipedia and see where you end up.

If you have any questions, leave a comment on this post and let’s start a discussion. It’s never too late to start and if you’ve made it this far, you’re already well on your way.

Image of a man with his arms outstretched, on the edge of a sheer ledge overlooking a massive, mountainous valley. He appears calm and free.
Image graciously sourced via Jason Hogan on Unsplash