The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai
Have you ever received a windfall? If so, you know the sense of excitement and possibility that come from it, especially if your money is typically very tight. A windfall can be a blessing that helps you become more successful in life, or it can be a curse that serves to amplify your previous financial issues.
I know two families who have received substantial windfalls. I’ll call them Couple A and Couple B.
Couple A are the parents of six kids. They married young (18 & 19) and always struggled to provide for themselves and their children. Couple A lived off the husband’s factory job while the wife stayed home to care for the house and the kids. Both the husband and wife have big hearts and willingly volunteered at church and helped elderly family members by driving them to the doctor or to the grocery store. When other people would donate their money to charities, this couple donated their time.
When the wife’s elderly aunt died, the aunt left all of her money to Couple A. At that point, Couple A were empty nesters. They had years of frugal living under their belts. When they received the inheritance, they bought a new house in a better neighborhood and they took a modest vacation. The rest of the money was invested, and they’re using the interest from the money as income now that they’re in retirement.
Couple B has received several windfalls. When the husband lost his sister in a tragic car accident, he sued and won a settlement. He spent the money buying toys like a boat and a sports car. He had always wanted these things, and his sister’s death taught him that life is short and you never know what tomorrow will bring. He decided to live in the moment and enjoy life now.
Later, the husband himself was involved in an accident where he lost his arm below the elbow. He sued once again and received a substantial settlement. This time, Couple B used the money to buy a modest house along with a trailer at a vacation destination four hours away. He also bought a new truck to tow the boat.
Unfortunately, thanks to his injury, the husband had trouble finding a job. His wife had a good job, but she was later diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and eventually had to quit her job. Now, they survive on disability. They have lost the boat and the house. The only reason they didn’t lose the truck was that they’ve had it for more than five years and had paid off the balance on the car loan.
Couple B certainly can’t help the health issues that have befallen them, but I can’t help but think that if they’d been smart with their money as Couple A was, they wouldn’t be struggling right now.
My Questions for You
Do you know anyone (or have you) received a substantial windfall? What happened to the money?
Do you think a windfall just highlights a person’s money management skills or lack thereof?