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“Quick riches are more dangerous than poverty” – Anonymous

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Luck is fleeting. Over the years, the luck syndrome has claimed many victims. Many of them lived long enough to tell their stories. Many others were not so fortunate. The shock was too much for them to bear and they were soon six feet deep. Is there really anything like luck? Does success ever come by chance? What do you do when money comes suddenly? How do you manage money and resources that come to you unexpectedly?

I can recall how, while I was a lot younger in elementary school even till the early years in the secondary school, I used to imagine being in affluence. I was not alone; so many kids would daydream about beautiful mansions with exotic cars. We would frequently talk about how we wished we were children of the popular millionaires and billionaires at that time. How it would be nice winning one of the promos being run by some companies in the manufacturing industry like Nigerian Breweries and Lever Brothers (now Unilever). I remember trekking several streets looking for crown caps of soft drinks as well as of alcoholic drinks. We would open the rubber covers underneath the caps hoping to win the promo gift items, especially the star prize(s). Occasionally, I won a few small gifts. I never won any of the big prizes in any of those promos!

True, some people have enjoyed many things in life by a stroke of luck. Some call it providence – there’s just one unseen force that seems to be directing their path in life. But some school of thought has tried to explain luck as preparation meeting with opportunity. When you win the lottery, you are lucky. However, the chances of winning the lottery many times are very slim, especially for the big prizes.  For a lot of people, winning the lottery is a dream come true. But for many lottery winners, the reality is more like a nightmare. “Winning the lottery isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be,” says Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once, but twice (1985, 1986), to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer. “I won the American dream but I lost it, too. It was a very hard fall. It’s called rock bottom,” says Adams. “Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I never learned one simple word in the English language — ‘No.’ I wish I had the chance to do it all over again. I’d be much smarter about it now,” says Adams, who also lost money at the slot machines in Atlantic City. “I was a big-time gambler,” admits Adams.

When money suddenly comes to you, what do you do with your lot? Firstly, what you do with your money and other resources depends on a lot of factors, including the plans you made for the money. When you do not plan beforehand, that financial breakthrough you have always expected and yearned for could catch you unawares and eventually become a financial breakdown for you. Generally, money tends to flow towards those who respect it and use it properly. If you yearn for financial increase, you need to treat money wisely and respectfully. Have wise, clearly-written-out plans for proper disbursement of funds at your disposal. This is because, when you do not plan your life and the use of your resources, other people will plan for you.

In properly managing a financial windfall, you also have to avoid lavish spending. Usually, ‘free money’ does not come all the time so you have got to be very frugal here! Ask yourself, how much do I earn monthly? Is this item I want to purchase necessary and urgent or it is just a luxury item? When you have just received a financial windfall, it is natural that you begin to remember the jewelry that your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse really deserves; you remember the movies, how you have not been to the cinema lately; an expensive family vacation to the Bahamas that seemed to have eluded you all your life has now become a possibility; you remember that you have never owned a car in your life or that the car you bought two years ago is now outdated and needs a replacement – the latest Volkswagen model; you realize that you need a home of your own so you start shopping for a new home; your sibling and some older relatives suddenly remember that you exist and begin to call you for help in sorting out many of their financial challenges. You need to prioritise your spending and learn to say no to those expenses that are frankly not just worth it!

Depending on the size of your windfall, it may be very necessary that you get the services of a financial adviser. Endeavour to get sound financial advice from trusted sources. This point cannot be outstretched. You can consult trusted friends who have been very prudent and successful with managing funds in the past. Experience is very important in this matter. People with extensive experience in handling money can share their experiences on handling money with you. You can learn from the mistakes they have made in the past. A lottery winner may find it very helpful speaking with some past winners, those who have properly managed their fortune and those who have failed woefully. A student can find the results of timely advice from a senior friend or relative who has made a success out of business far reaching. You need to properly account for the disbursement of your windfall.

After you have come up with a proper and well revised plan, you need to carry out the plan accordingly. Granted, you may need to be a little flexible with the execution of the plan. Managing money requires a good measure of discipline. An internal resolve to keep looking at the big picture and not allow sentiments push you into compromising standards. How you manage the money at your disposal today has an input into your future – the bright financial future that you desire. Many have remained poor because they ate the seeds that they could have planted. Those seeds could have grown into a large plantation. The owners of those seeds could have become plantation owners today.

Man relishes sudden money!

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As I bring this article to an end, remember the strands of advice in this piece. Determine in your heart never to eat up the seeds. When you eat up your seeds, you eat up the plantations that would have grown from the investment of those seeds. Take advantage of every opportunity that you have today; it may take a long while before another opportunity of this magnitude shows up again, if at all it does. Seek to be financially literate. Envisage an increase and have a blueprint for managing your resources. When money comes suddenly, channel it into your plans. Grab it and make the best use of the opportunity. Your life will never remain the same!

This article was first published in Power To Get Wealth (PTGW, Dec. 15, 2009 – Jan.15, 2010), a monthly business journal by Wisdom Publishing House Int’l, Lagos.