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I’ve Won the Lottery!... Now What?!

A sudden financial windfall can be more trouble than it is worth if you don’t take the proper steps.
Image by Allange from Pixabay

Many of us have dreamt of winning the lottery because everyone knows that winning the lottery will change your life forever. But what do you need to know if that dream comes true?

Before You Tell Anyone…

If you win the lottery the first thought is to run to the mountain top and yell to the world how lucky you are. First, breathe. This seems like simple advice, but it is important to pause first and organize your thoughts. Then, before you tell everyone, make sure that you sign the ticket in pen, then place the ticket in a secure place (a safe or lock box). You may want to double or triple check the numbers (avoid the electronic scanners found in convenience stores so you can remain anonymous as long as possible).

If you have a partner, let them know. Then next call is not to your best friend, it is to a financial advisor and a lawyer. They can help direct you in the decision-making process and protect you. You may trust your friends, however, large amounts of money can change a person and a relationship quickly.

Now it is time to call the lottery commission. They will verify the ticket and now your life is about to change. In most cases you can no longer remain anonymous, therefore you need to have a plan in place prior to you claiming your winnings.

After Claiming Your Winnings

Take your time and do not make any life altering decisions. Many people want to quit their job and change their whole life. This can cause more problems; a sudden change can create anxiety and stress and money can’t fix that!

There are going to be people from your past knocking on your door. Friends and family alike may think that they deserve some of the money that you have suddenly come into. There also may be people with false allegations against you in order to get at your money. Hiring a lawyer prior to claiming your prize can help prepare for and prevent these issues.

Now You Have Your Money

This is when you need to follow the advice of the financial planner. Most times there are three things that you should do with your money. The first is to invest in your future and the future of your loved ones. The second is to save; there are many stories of people who won the lottery and lost it all. Save for a rainy day! The third is to spend some on your wants and needs. This should be done on a budget and after a period of time to ensure you are not spending recklessly. Although, now would be a good time to go on a holiday to get away from the people knocking on your door!

Don’t stop dreaming. Think of all the things that you can do if you won the lottery but play responsibly, set your limit and play within it. The Canadian Lottery Commission can answer your questions and help you make smart decisions about the lottery.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. The editorial content and views expressed in the articles are not those of and the Alberta Securities Commission. Learn more.