This “ 10 Smart Moves To Do With Your Settlement Money” post describes some suggestions you can do if ever you receive structured settlements, cash settlements, bonuses, or others that don’t happen all the time. This post contains affiliate links/ads. See disclosure policy.
Just in case you receive a financial windfall, do you know what you should do with you money? Before you answer the question, let me tell you what a financial windfall is just to avoid confusion.
A financial windfall is quite often a life-changing event, that is, you’ll receive a big amount of money either from structured settlements like car accidents and mesothelioma claims, inheritance, bonus for accepting a new job, or any other settlement payments.
Now, back to the question… Do you know what to do with the money? If you do, then, that’s good but you still need to sit down and carefully think about what you are going to do with it before making any decisions. Remember, one or a series of even small bad moves can drastically affect you personally, emotionally, and financially.
There are people who won big-time through the lottery only to find themselves losing everything and becoming more indebted in just a couple of years. Please don’t think that what happened to them will never happen you, if you ever be in this position, because there’s always a possibility that it would happen. Again, never say never.
10 Smart Moves To Do With Your Settlement Money
Here are some ways you can do to avoid being one of those people who earned a huge sum of structured settlements or any form of cash settlements and end up in a worse position.
Know The Tax Consequences
Here are some situations where you can get a huge amount of money: (1) You hired the top personal injury attorneys for your legal case and won a hefty amount of structured settlements; (2) You receive a big bonus from a big company for accepting a job offer; (3) You receive an inheritance due to death in the family or something like that, and; (4) You won the lottery.
When you are in situations like the ones stated above, it is imperative that you understand the tax implications of receiving a windfall. Some settlements may be tax-exempted (as in the cases of some mesothelioma claims and accident and injury claims) but some are not (as in the cases of inheritance and lottery claims).
Your settlement may be subject to taxes. It is best to seek help with professionals such as CPAs and tax attorneys to make sure you pay the necessary taxes. If you neglect paying the taxes, you are looking at higher tax liabilities due to penalty and interest.
Create a plan
Before you even make any moves that involve using your money, make sure that you create or have a plan.
Ask yourself what you want to do with the money. Do you want to buy a house or donate money to charity? Do you want to fund your retirement or spend years on vacation? Whatever your desire is, you always need to have a plan and, even better, a backup plan.
Like what I always say, you don’t want to go to a battle without a plan. More likely than not, you will lose or get wounded. The same analogy applies to planning on how to use your money.
Hire a professional
If you receive a huge cash settlement, you should consider hiring a financial professional. Avoid doing all the investing and saving all by yourself. You may be saving professional fees by not hiring a professional but you’ll have a greater chance of making investment and saving mistakes along the way.
I’m not a fan of financial advisors but these advisors can provide you guidance on what investment vehicles best fit your needs. They can also help you take away some of the stress that you are experiencing due to having such a huge amount of money.
But as I always say in my other blog posts, it is best if you educate yourself about investing and saving first before working with a professional. This way, you are not going into something that you aren’t aware of.
Get a life insurance
Just in case your settlement is through accident and injury claims, you may consider getting a life insurance.
I was in a car accident. When I received my cash settlement, I was told that receiving this money would mean that I won’t hold the insurance company liable in the future should there be effects related to the car accident.
This situation made me realize to get life insurance not really for me but for my family just in case I die (knock on the wood). I don’t know if anything will manifest years down the road after the accident. All I can do is get some coverage for my family. I say that it’s best to get life insurance especially when you are healthy and there are no negative signs or effects of such accident yet.
Invest in education
Just because you receive a huge settlement doesn’t mean that you should stop learning and educating yourself. I have always believed that education is one of the best investments you can make for yourself.
Use your cash settlements or structured settlements to fund your education. If you already have your undergraduate degree, you may still go to graduate school and use such fund. If you don’t have time to go to school full-time, you always have the option to attend part-time programs or take online classes.
Your education will not only help you personally but also professionally. This will help you as you seek better job and training opportunities as you go along with your career.
Invest in income-generating vehicles
When I say income-generating vehicles, I don’t mean trucks, SUVs, and cars. What I mean by these are investments either in the stock market, real estate, business, and others.
If you think what you received is ok to last you for a long time, then, feel free to keep the money in your bank. But if you desire to grow your money more, then, one of the best ways to do it is to invest.
You can put your money in the stock market and let it grow for a number of years. You can invest in real estate and rent the houses you bought for passive income. You can invest in businesses and earn both salary and profit.
You can also invest into real estate properties. The best part of buying properties is that you can transfer them to your loved ones.
Just make sure you understand all the paperwork that goes within the transfer of properties. This paperwork include, not are not limited to, deed of trust, quitclaim deed form, tax assessment, land surveys, among others.
But before you invest, always make sure that you are educated with the investments and know the risks and rewards associated with them.
Invest in your house
My mom always says that home is where you heart is. Invest by buying a house for you and your family. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a big house. Buy a house that’s good enough for your family.
Remember, that buying a house has its own pros and cons. Therefore, you need to think about it multiple times before jumping into buying one. When you decide to buy a house, you need to factor in the costs of maintenance, homeowner’s associate fee (if applicable), taxes, among others.
Give Back And Share Your Blessings
You receive structured settlements or cash settlements because you deserve them. In my opinion, you’ll be more deserving if you give back to your community in the forms of donation to charity, donations to church, and the likes.
Remember that donations (large or small) can make a big difference to the lives of other people. In addition, these donations can be used as tax deductions when tax season comes along.
As my mom always say, sharing blessings will make you feel good and will help you receive more blessings financially or non-financially.
Pay Off Your Debt and Save
To tell you the truth, it is really easy to forget your debt and to save when you suddenly receive a ton amount of money. Before you spend your money, make sure that your priorities are taken care off.
Pay your debt so you won’t have to pay additional fees and interest. If you have balances on your credit cards, loans, and other bills, then, you should make sure that you pay them off. For me, it’s always a good feeling when I know I don’t have any debt (small or big) on my shoulder. Without debt, I feel financially independent.
So, when you’re done with paying off your debt, does it mean that you’re done and can spend all the money you have? No, not yet. It is better if you stash money towards your emergency and retirement funds/accounts. Don’t say that you have a ton of money to use and that’s why you don’t need to save. That is really a wrong assumption.
Your financial advisor and family can help you figure out where you need to save and what you need to save for.
Read: Lesson Learned In Paying Off Debt
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Have Fun And Share Your Blessings
It’s your money. So have fun and make the most out of it. It doesn’t mean that you need to spend all of your money. What I mean is find a balance between saving and spending it.
Spend based on your needs and not on your wants. Because of the money you receive, you may be tempted to buy whatever it is that you want. Avoid succumbing to that temptation. Always stick with what you need and remain as frugal as possible.
Share your blessings with your family and friends and don’t be too stingy.
Have you received structured settlements or something like that? How did you spend your money or where did you spend your money on?
Allan Liwanag is a personal finance blogger who paid off at least $40K debt in 3 years by adopting simple and extreme saving techniques while ensuring his family’s needs were taken care of. An analyst by day and dedicated blogger by night, he loves to share his thoughts – based on his research, personal knowledge, and experience – on topics related to family, life, and money. Allan lives with his family in Maryland, USA.