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Use financial windfalls wisely

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If you’re lucky enough to win a multimillion-dollar lottery, you don’t need this column; you need a team of legal and financial experts to make sure you don’t blow your chance for lifetime financial security. But if you receive a considerably smaller monetary windfall, whether a tax refund, divorce settlement, inheritance or work bonus, there are actions you can take to positively impact on your current financial situation.
First, take a breath. Before going on a spending spree, stash the money in a savings account until you’ve examined your total financial picture. Weigh existing debts, upcoming expenses and future needs to make sure you apply the money where it’s needed most.
Wake up and smell the tax windfall. Working Americans have larger paychecks this year due to a tax break that cuts their share of Social Security payroll taxes by close to one-third. However, a recent poll on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website revealed that nearly half of the respondents were unaware of this windfall.
“Some people will see an extra $2,000 in their paychecks this year, but regardless of the amount, put this money to good use while you have it, as the tax cut was only approved for 2011,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.


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