2 min

What to Do if You Win the Lottery

Aug 25, 2022
in a nutshell
  • How your winnings are taxed depends on which state you live and if you purchased your ticket outside of your home state.
  • Don’t quit your job, at least not right away, because there might be ramifications for your coworkers that you care about.
  • There’s an adjustment period while you figure out your new way of life.
Image of Ever wondered what to do if you win the lottery? Here are some tips from a certified financial planner.
in a nutshell
  • How your winnings are taxed depends on which state you live and if you purchased your ticket outside of your home state.
  • Don’t quit your job, at least not right away, because there might be ramifications for your coworkers that you care about.
  • There’s an adjustment period while you figure out your new way of life.

Two ticketholders won the Powerball jackpot of $632.6 million on January 5, 2022, the seventh largest prize in the lottery games history.

The lucky winners will split the jackpot, meaning before taxes, each ticket is worth $225.1 million, if the winner takes the lump sum option. If they take the annuity option, the total payout would equal $316.3 million over 30 years, according to Powerball.com.

“This is a lot of money any way you look at it,” says Susan Bradley, a certified financial planner and founder of the Sudden Money Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who has advised past lottery winners.

Her surprising advice to the winners: “You may not want to quit your job, at least not right away,” Bradley says. Here’s why.

‘Leaving a job has ramifications’

When federal taxes are taken out, the cash prize will be worth $283.6 million, or $141.8 million per ticket, according to USAMega.com. If the winner who bought their ticket in California lives in the state, they’ll pay no additional state taxes on their lottery winners. However, if the Wisconsin lottery winner lives in state, they’ll pay a state tax of 7.65%, which is a $17.2 million chunk of their winnings.

If the winner bought the ticket in a different state then where they live, it could change how their winnings are taxed.

“You can’t suddenly have a liquid net worth of over $100 million and not be a different person,” Bradley says. It’s important to “process and think through your decisions.” That includes the choice to leave your job immediately.

“I’ve worked with some lottery winners that have wanted to wait until the very last week to claim their prize because they wanted to finish their work,” Bradley says. One lottery winner she worked with “wanted to finish their work because they knew if they left, then all of their coworkers would be in a tough spot, and they didn’t want to be the lottery winner at their office.”

Even if you become an overnight multi-millionaire, “you want to clean up after yourself, you want to leave other people in the best possible way,” she says. “It could be a business owner who says, ‘The heck with this, I don’t want to run this business anymore.’ But what about their employees, what about their families?”

Think through the ripple effects, because “leaving a job sometimes has ramifications for people that you actually do care about. They might not be your number one thought, but there are people that will be impacted by that decision,” Bradley says.

After winning the lottery, ‘there’s an adjustment period’

You may be tempted to take a week off and think about what to do, “but what I’ve found is that when people are just sitting back and thinking about it, or are just trying to process on their own, they just start to spin pretty quickly. Your mind just rushes into ‘What about this, and what about this?’ It’s not comfortable,” she says.

Bradley suggests enlisting the help of a certified financial transitionist (CeFT) who specializes in financial transitions. “CeFTs are trained to hold a safe space for people, and a place to come where their conversations are private. They understand what really needs to be done and what does not need to be done right now.”

Many of the past winners Bradley has advised, at some point, “do typically stop working, and there’s an adjustment period,” she says.

If you do decide to quit your job, “you have to have something that has meaning that fills your time,” Bradley says. “What happens is, when routines get broken, you kind of just exist for a while. You go out to dinner or you go shopping, but it’s not enough.”

Bradley advises clients to “look for routines that are social, challenging, and actually routine. Routine doesn’t mean everyday, it could be once a week or once a month.”

Your new routine will vary depending on what you value, “a lot of times that means volunteering or helping out with your grandchildren,” Bradley says.

This material has been presented for informational and educational purposes only. The views expressed in the articles above are generalized and may not be appropriate for all investors. The information contained in this article should not be construed as, and may not be used in connection with, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or hold, an interest in any security or investment product. There is no guarantee that past performance will recur or result in a positive outcome. Carefully consider your financial situation, including investment objective, time horizon, risk tolerance, and fees prior to making any investment decisions. No level of diversification or asset allocation can ensure profits or guarantee against losses. Article contributors are not affiliated with Acorns Advisers, LLC. and do not provide investment advice to Acorns’ clients. Acorns is not engaged in rendering tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult a qualified professional for this type of service.

Sofia Pitt

Sofia Pitt was a reporter for Grow.

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