October 5-11th is financial planning week this year, and I thought I’d answer a question that came up in my community recently.
“What’s the best thing to do with a lump sum of cash?”
This is such a great question, and I think very timely for financial planning week!
So let’s say theoretically that you’ve been given a lump sum of cash – perhaps an inheritence or a tax refund. What do you do with it?! This very question alone can be totally paralysing. In the end, you either do nothing, or blow it all on a holiday of a lifetime.
But what if you could think about this logically, without emotion playing a role? It would be powerful stuff!
The Psychology Of Money
There’s a brilliant book I recommend you read called “Mind Over Money” by Claudia Hammond*. In this book she talks about all sorts of ways in which our mind play tricks on us and strategies to overcome it. It’s amazing how strongly we can feel about money, particularly when we associate it with a big event such as the death of a loved one.
I had this myself recently when my dad died. The last thing on my mind was that I’d be receiving any sort of money from him after death – I just assumed that it would all go to my mum. But then my mum rang one day and told me that I’d be receiving a lump of money from him as part of his life insurance pay out.
I was literally speechless, but my tears did the talking. Here I was, in receipt of a lump sum of cash – enough to clear all of debt, but I was paralysed. Somehow it seemed… wrong to spend it on debt – like he’d be disappointed that I did.
So it took me a while of procrastinating and going around in circles until finally one day my partner snapped me out of my “analysis paralysis” and I made a decision on what I would do with it. I teach this stuff and it was really really hard to overcome the emotion I had associated with this money.
So if you’ve come into some money, and feel paralysed with fear, don’t worry, you are completely normal.
What Could You Do With A Lump Sum Of Money?
So what did I end up doing with the money?
I put 20% towards my emergency fund (instantly bringing it up to 3 months worth of income) and 10% towards my wedding costs. I allocated 5% to investing, and the remainder I cleared debt, which didn’t pay it all off, but clear enough to manage what was left. It brought my 2020 goals 9 months ahead of schedule!!
I chose to do this based on my circumstances at the time because I didn’t have a huge amount in my savings at this point (having spent a lot of it on wedding costs and exam fees). So it made sense to stock up my emergency fund.
I also desperately wanted to clear more debt, so it was only natural for me to put the majority on this inspite of my initial worries.
The wedding was something that he would have been part of, so now it feels like he literally is – he’s helped to pay for a lot of it and that’s an amazing gift in itself!
So what could you do with a lump sum of money? If you’d like help with this, I offer free 15-minute strategy sessions to help you gain clarity on the next direction to take with your money!
When you come into a lump sum of cash, keep emotion out of it – it’s just money. When you lump it together with other money you earn from your job or from a tax return, how do you know which £1 came from which lump?
So one of the things you can do is create instant savings ready for emergencies if/when they arise. Start with £1000, then increase to 3 months salary, then 6 months. How much you want to keep is entirely up to you and how comfortable you feel.
Then you have other savings goals like buying a house, a car or paying for a wedding. These are called “slush funds” because you will be using them sooner rather than later. You might also have a “garden and house” fund, a “clothing” fund and a “Christmas” fund – these are all areas that having a store of cash ready to go will come in handy.
Another thing to consider is allocating money to your future. A house forms part of this, but what about your pension? Do you have a work pension or do you work for yourself? If this is the case, then you must make sure you have provided for your future!
Start off a SIPP (self-invested personal pension), Stocks and Shares ISA or speak to a financial adviser to do it for you. Regardless, having money for your future is so important if you ever want to stop working one day!!
Have Some Fun
And finally, I advocate having some fun with the money – have a holiday, buy clothes, have a spa weekend, whatever fun looks like to you, go for it! I chose to spend my “fun” money on a wedding, but that’s because I regularly allocate money to fun for myself, and didn’t feel the need to use this money for it. But you might not have had a holiday for YEARS, and a much needed break or a trip of a lifetime is definitely needed.
It’s ultimately all about balance. Shoving it all in savings is great, but a little boring! Blowing it all on fun would be incredible, but doesn’t exactly help you in the long run. So have a smattering of options depending on where you’re at financially. You might need to pay off debt, but equally, having some money set aside for emergencies will stop you going back into it.
So think about your plans strategically, not emotionally and you’ll be just fine.
Until next time,
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8 thoughts on “What’s The Best Thing To Do With A Lump Sum Of Cash?”
Firstly, sorry to hear about the loss of your Dad, its never easy to deal with something like this. But I love the essence of this article – we always talk about ways to save money, but not often about how to spend it – especially a lump sum like you have discussed. I think a lot of people would hurry to spend it in perhaps a reckless way – possibly even myself?! I’d really like to think I’d put some away and just splash a small amount – after all, money can’t buy you happiness but it is sure good fun trying on occasion!
Aw thank you, yes it’s not the best of circumstances to receive money, but it was truly a special gift. Honestly, before working on my money mindset and changing my habits, I would have likely blown it all too, so I got to do a bit of that, but my sensible head kept me on track. Thank you for your comment, I appreciate you taking the time to do that.
I’m sorry you lost your dad. Money never makes up for something like that. In my case my mom and dad had been married about a week shy of 63 years when she died. He died a couple of years later of Parkinson’s and left their assets to my brother and me. When people ask what you’d do with a one million dollar windfall I never have to think about it because that’s exactly what happened, we each got one million in stocks, bonds and cash. That was about seven years ago. Both my brother and I left it alone at first. I felt my dad’s financial advisors had treated him with honor and had not churned the account or run up fees even though he had been infirm at the end so I left it with them for a full year out of gratitude. After that I moved it to Personal Capital where it remains. We spent a little, about $20,000 on a fishing boat to replace the dangerous and unreliable hunk of junk my wife and I had been fishing out of for years and about $14,000 on a side by side all terrain vehicle which we have since ridden all over Arkansas and out west. So we spent less than 5% and invested the rest. I think my dad would be well pleased with that. In our case one million did not significantly impact our net worth, we were already financially independent multimillionaires, but it did help me decide to start thinking about retiring early, which I did a couple of years later.
Wow what an amazing story! Thank you for sharing. It would be a real dream of mine to be able to leave money like this to my children one day. I’m
Glad you also got to have some fun with the money in a way that serve you and your family so well
Sorry for your loss. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I love your story. I get that question all the time and love to help people work through the answer. I’m adding this to Fawcett’s Favorites next Monday.
Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
Financial Success MD
Thank you very much! I appreciate that. Yes it was a sad time, but I know he wanted us all to be looked after. I hope you’re doing ok!
So sorry for the loss of your dad, Nikki! I lost my dad this year, too. Sad times. I’m sure your dad would have appreciated knowing that you used the insurance money to further your financial independence, too. Parents want their children to do well. Wishing you peace!
Aw thank you hun. It’s a horrible experience isn’t it? But yes, he would have done it to make sure we are ok.