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How to make the most of a financial windfall (tax refund, bonus, gift, etc.)

(Click here for all the latest personal finance articles and tips from our resident experts.)

How do you make the most of an unexpected (or expected) windfall such as a bonus, inheritance or (we can dream, can’t we?) lottery jackpot?

About 70 percent of people who win large amounts in the lottery have nothing to show for it after seven years. The same can be said of people who received other windfalls such as inheritances or financial gifts.

How to use your windfall to live the life you dream of

If you’re lucky enough to have received such a windfall (or you if you haven’t but you play the lotto and you’re hopeful you will); how can you make the most of it? How do you ensure you use it to live the life you’ve always dreamed of?

“You’ve got to think like a wealthy person,” says Certified Financial Planner Paul Roelofse. “Wealthy people don’t pass the time thinking how they should spend. They look at how they should guard their capital and grow it, not only for themselves but for generations to come.”

So, how can we guard and grow a windfall that comes our way?

“I would suggest, before you do anything, take a few days off and go away to think about what just happened,” suggests Roelofse. “Think hard about what you’ve got. Let it really sink in.”

Then, when you’ve taken a deep breath and gathered your thoughts, get professional help. “This is what wealthy people do,” says Roelofse. “They have financial planners and advisors.”

How to find a good, honest financial advisor

Start your search for honest advice at the Financial Planning Institute (FPI). The FPI’s website has a function whereby you can search for and browse the CVs of accredited advisors in your area.

All these advisors are “Certified Financial Planners” – the gold standard when it comes to certification of financial advisors. “This is an international qualification,” assures Roelofse. “In addition, if anything goes wrong, you’ve got recourse with the institution as well as with the Financial Services Board (FSB).”

(Click here for all the latest personal finance articles and tips from our resident experts.)

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