What to Do After Winning the Lottery

Before we talk about what to do after winning the lottery, and what we can learn from it, let’s just talk about money.

Money has the potential to really improve people’s lives. If you’re living in poverty and you can now buy food and not worry about getting by, that’s a big jump!

Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School actually gave a number of $75,000 per year as the magic number for happiness. Below that people’s happiness drops. However, above it, many people experience more unhappiness too.

So it’s no wonder that lottery winners often deal with staggering statistics. Such as:

  • According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70% percent of people who win a lottery or get a big windfall actually end up broke in a few years. The Review of Economics and Statistics found that only 1% of Florida lottery winners went bankrupt when they won small amounts less than $150,000.
  • A University of California study found that after 6 months, lottery winners were no more happy than the average person. Whereas the World Database of Happiness reported that studies found that 75% of people were happier.
  • Paris School of Economics found that winning the lottery increase’s the risk of death.
  • The World Database of Happiness reports that divorce only increases by 3%

Whether you have won the lottery, have a higher paying job, or just dream of more money, it’s important to think about money in relation to our relationships and happiness.

Money tends to increase whatever is already present in our lives. If you are a mean and shady person, money will make you more mean and shady. If you are a nice person that wants to help the world, money will help you do that too. Of course, some things do change when we have more money.

As your income increases through winning the lottery or career, it’s important to have clear steps to manage these new assets.

After Winning the Lottery Get a Financial Fiduciary

Financial Fiduciaries must put their client needs before their own. This is really important regarding investments, asset allocation, and their recommendations. This is not my area of expertise, but seeking legal counsel in this area is really important!

So here are some tips in my area of expertise: counseling and relationships!

Take Time After Winning the Lottery

One of the best things you can do is pause. A whirlwind is about to happen and your life is changed forever. The firsts days, weeks, and months can be overwhelming. Remember, you are always in control of what you choose to do.

Take time alone, with family, or with trusted friends. Don’t make huge decisions during this time. Instead of taking action, write down a “Dream List” that you can evaluate later when you create your Think Tank.

Value People After You Win the Lottery

Whether it’s Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, we’ve seen that giving and relationships are the things that lead people to the most happiness over time. That is why it’s important to evaluate what people have been in your life before winning.

  • Who helped you in difficult situations?
  • Who made you into the wo/man you are today?
  • If you lost it all, who would you still enjoy being with?

These are the people to focus your energy on. Over the coming months, you may need to set new boundaries, such as:

  • Change your personal email
  • Have an assistant manage your scheduling
  • Learn to set new boundaries with family members
  • Create legal protections
  • Have trusted professionals and friends on your Think Tank
  • Set life goals to enjoy the lottery money, while also planning for future generations
  • Create rhythms with your spouse or significant other to stay connected

It’s a lot to take in after winning the lottery!

Assemble a Think Tank Post-Lottery Win

Assembling a Think Tank that meets monthly after you win the lottery and then quarterly then eventually annually is one of the best ways to create happiness, sustained wealth, and a balanced point of view.

A typical Think Tank will include:

  1. Attorney
  2. Financial Fiduciary
  3. 1-2 Trusted friends
  4. Spouse or significant other
  5. Life Leader (pastor, spiritual guide, counselor)

The goal is that they are your guides, not voting members of your life. You are inviting them into this group and you get to choose who is there to guide you.

Emotional Impact of Winning

What to do after winning the lottery is really a tough decision. Don’t be a statistic! Plan with professionals and trusted friends/family through a Think Tank model. Unexpected emotions will come out and a counselor or therapist can help you work on these (and they have to follow strict confidentiality by law).

If you take time to pause, plan, and create your Think Tank you’ll invest in others, create more good in the world, and plan for the future.

Traverse City counselor Joe headshotJoseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor that helps people with the emotions and planning for financial transitions such as winning the lottery, receiving an inheritance, and having a successful business. 

Want to schedule with Joe? 231-714-0282 ext. 700