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      Money Talks News: What to do With a Windfall

      Winning the lottery, or hitting it big at a casino - dream for many, reality for few. But those aren't the only sources of windfalls.

      From an inheritance to a tax refund - even a bonus at work - lump sums of cash aren't all that uncommon.

      So what do you do when an unexpected just lump sum falls right into your hands? Whether it's a 300 million dollar lottery win or a $3,000 tax refund, the rules are the same...

      The first thing to do when you get a windfall? Nothing.

      No gifts to charity, no trips to the mall, no loans to family. Take at least a month to plot your course: more if the money's big.

      When you do start writing checks, the first ones should be to creditors.

      Paying off an 18 percent credit card is like earning 18 percent, risk free and tax free.

      Next priority? Having a little fun: that is, after all, one of the main things in life.

      Get something you've always wanted, or better yet: Take a trip. Make a memory or two...

      Next? Put your windfall to work. Invest. If you don't know how, learn.

      If you don't know what to do, find someone who does.

      But get a fee-based financial planner, not a commission-based one.

      Bottom line? When unexpected money falls into your life, take your time, pay your debts, have a little fun and then invest for the future.

      One place to learn how to invest? Right here at

      Just do a search for "Windfall."

      For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.