Would You (Really) Know What to Do if You Became Suddenly Rich?

What if tomorrow morning you woke up to the news that you closed the deal and got THAT contract?

What if the meeting on your calendar for tomorrow afternoon was to announce your nomination to become an equity partner at your law firm or consulting practice?

What if you get a letter requesting your presence at the reading of the last will and testament of a beloved family member; you were bequeathed a sizable inheritance.

What if, on a lark, you actually played the lottery and during the 11pm news you hear your numbers…you freaking won!

From X to Y

Whether by talent, discipline, and focused work; generosity; or pure damn luck, you went to bed having X. And now you have Y.

Maybe you’ve thought of this moment often. You may, perhaps, even have a list of things you’d do and buy if the windfall you’ve been preparing for and/or praying for happens.

But now, what was once considered a “one-day, maybe” goal or fantasy is a full-on reality.

You now have more money than you’ve ever had. You are suddenly rich – oh, by about six- or seven-figures.

Pretty damn cool, eh?!

Your new financial reality changes EVERYTHING!

It changes what you can do; it changes what you no longer have to do; it changes many elements of your lifestyle; and more.

It sounds absolutely wonderful, doesn’t it?! You welcome this kind of change with arms wide open.

Eventually though, the excitement settles and you soon find yourself wrestling with a very logical question: “What the hell do I (really) do with all this money?”

I wrote about just such a scenario several years ago on the heels of presenting a financial workshop as part of the NBA’s Rookies in Transition week.

To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. It truly was a pleasure and privilege to speak with these young men at such a critical moment in their professional careers and financial lives — helping them sort through possible answers to just such a question. 

JMT-RTP

With the 2021 NBA Finals going on right now, I thought I’d share a few of the tips I presented during that workshop. Why? Because you very well could find yourself in a similar position as them, albeit for very different reasons.

And because windfalls, no matter the size, usually find you a little less prepared than you originally thought.

So, let’s start there…

Windfalls require adjustments

An aspect of becoming suddenly rich that is often overlooked is this: When you get more, you have to increase your capacity to handle more. (You may want to read that again.)

With more money comes more responsibility. More responsibility typically involves different decisions and choices than what you may be accustomed to making.

When you read this, you might find yourself saying, “duh, Jacquette!”

Yet, most suddenly rich people expect everything (and maybe everyone) around them to change. But they don’t realize they need to change too!!

Windfalls don’t mask blind spots (they exacerbate them!)

Some people believe more money alone will change how they experience money. But here’s the real deal: How you handle a $1 will be the same way you will handle $1million. Unless you invest the time to discover your blind spots and adjust accordingly.

Don’t believe me…read this and watch this.

Windfalls require a plan of action

To go beyond being suddenly rich to becoming gradually wealthy (or wealthier), your windfall needs direction…you and it need a plan of action.

Think of your plan as a financial playbook for how the different spheres of your “financial wheel” (earn, save, invest, spend) work independently and how they “talk” to each other.

A well documented plan should help you manage your new financial reality, with specific goals, strategies, policies, and processes. A well executed plan is best achieved with a team of independent experts – each accountable for specific outcomes. A well followed plan has built-in oversight.

Windfalls demand you proactively think about “what could possibly go wrong?”

Just as windfalls exacerbate blind spots; they also highlight human nature. That means you need to be brutally honest about what could possibly go wrong. And, that ranges from acknowledging the probability of losing all of what you’ve gained due to poor choices, poor management or poor counsel to acknowledging that family and friends may have unrealistic expectations about what YOU should do with your money. 

Having a “what could possibly go wrong game-plan?” will help you mitigate your risks (financial and otherwise).

From suddenly rich to gradually wealthy (or wealthier)

In 2013, when I spoke with these newly signed basketball players, I talked about mindset, behavior, and choices (what a surprise, right?!). I talked about how their windfall was a financial springboard, and how it is an invitation to be a (better) steward of their resources.

Luck of the lottery-winner type had very little to do with why we were in a room together; they were there due to their talent, discipline, dedication, focus, and sacrifice. A smorgasbord of ingredients that can likely lead to your very own suddenly rich moment.

I am not a biblical scholar, but when I think of how best I can help suddenly rich people navigate and negotiate this new terrain – in terms of dollars and the emotions that go with – I recall the passage Matthew 7:13-14:

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. NIV

Should you suddenly become rich, what I’ve shared herein will help you go through the narrow gate. (By the way, if Christianity or religion, in general, isn’t your thing, then just think of the wide gate as “the easy, get by with little effort, non-strategic way” and the narrow gate as “the make (sometimes tough) choices, put in the effort, strategic way”.)

It is the narrow gate that will minimize all that could possibly go wrong. From losing all of your windfall and ending up broke to having fractured personal relationships due to misplaced expectations.

It is the narrow gate that will help you confidently know what to do should you become suddenly rich. And better yet, turn those riches into (more) wealth.

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