Analysis

6 Lessons Learned from Previous Powerball Jackpot Winners

Many of the discussions around lottery winners focus on how they’ve misspent their money. But some Powerball jackpot winners have made good financial decisions that have gotten them out of debt, set them up for future wealth, and benefited people in their communities.

At least a few of the lessons were learned the hard way, and we can take their experience and apply it to make better decisions for our own personal finances. Here are six of the most important things Powerball winners can teach us.

Lesson 1: Pay off debt

Not all lottery winners immediately spend their winnings on fancy cars and houses. Many use their winnings to pay off their mortgage or eliminate their credit card debt.

That’s what $2 million Powerball winner Megan Balmer did recently. She immediately set up plans to pay off her house and wipe out the credit card debt she had accumulated. If you’re trying to eliminate your own debt, some helpful debt payoff apps can help you get on the right track.

Lesson 2: Invest wisely

Jack Whittaker won a Powerball jackpot of $314 million and took the one-time payout of $113 million. Unfortunately, Whittaker spent most of his money within years through gambling, giving money away, and business investments that didn’t work out.

The quick takeaway from Whittaker’s financial troubles is that no matter how much money you have in the bank or what your annual income is, it’s always a good idea to find sound investments to grow your money. This could be through buying and selling stocks in your brokerage account or setting up a 401(k) through your employer. There are also plenty of great websites and apps for beginning investors.

Lesson 3: Learn how to say no

Sandra Hayes split a $224 million Powerball jackpot with some of her co-workers and quickly realized that some people close to her were always asking for money. She had to learn how to say no, which is a good lesson for anyone trying to improve their personal finances.

Sometimes, you have to say no to specific spending to achieve bigger goals you’re working toward, like paying off debt or saving up to buy a house. Saying no can make you wealthier by helping you avoid the wrong opportunities and investments.

Lesson 4: Set a budget

Hayes didn’t just learn how to say no; she also maintains a relatively frugal lifestyle to make sure her winnings will last. While she bought a car and took a trip to Hawaii, she set a limit on her spending and still shops at discount stores.

If you hate budgeting (and most everyone does), it may help to use a budgeting app that tracks your spending. Setting a few budgeting goals — like building an emergency fund — will help you stay focused on what you want to achieve.

Lesson 5: Hire a finance professional

Buying things can be fun, but it can also lead to overspending, credit card debt, and even bankruptcy. But no matter how much money you have, keeping your spending in check can be difficult — that’s why it pays to hire a financial advisor.

Powerball winner David Gehle took a similar step after he and some of his coworkers won a $365 million jackpot. Gehle was scared he’d spend all the money, so he made conservative investments, hired accountants and lawyers to help him manage his winnings, and even waited a few years after hitting the jackpot before he bought a house.

Lesson 6: Be charitable

Lerynne West walked away with a $343.9 million Powerball jackpot in 2018 and gave $500,000 to the Travis Mills Foundation veterans charity, as well as set up her own charitable organization called the Callum Foundation, which focuses on education, animal welfare, veterans, and fighting poverty.

Of course, you don’t need a large amount of money to donate to your favorite charity. Doing so is a great way to help people in need, and there are also many benefits to being generous.

Learn lessons the easy way

Even if you don’t have a lot of money, there are some practical steps you can take to get yourself in the best financial shape possible. For example, if you’re unsure how to manage your money, consider downloading some financial literacy apps to educate yourself.

Apps can be an easy way to grasp financial ideas and concepts you may not already understand, and you’ll quickly learn important financial lessons — so you can be ready when your numbers come up in the next Powerball jackpot.

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