My Incredibly Boring Plan To Manage A Whoppin’ $200 Windfall

 

By definition, a windfall is a piece of unexpected fortune, typically involving money. Throughout your lifetime you can expect many windfalls of varying degrees. It’s not a question of if you will be the beneficiary of such awesomeness, but rather, when. I’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with quite a few windfalls in my life. Most recently, I had a shot at a $200 windfall which I’ll be receiving in my next paycheck later this month. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s still a piece of good fortune that I’m happy to accept.

Windfalls You Might Receive

Here are a few examples of windfalls you could, and likely will, receive at some point during your lifetime…

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    Income Tax Refund: Each year people receive tiny to enormous tax refunds, depending on the amount of money they chose to lend to the government throughout the year. Hey, I’m not being all judgy here. Before Mr. MMM and I got on the our wealth-building high horse (just kidding ;), I intentionally tweaked my paychecks so I would receive a huge refund. Sure, it’s not The Best use of money since you could make more money by investing it and not lending it to the government. BUT, on the off chance you think you might actually blow it on nights out with friends instead of investments, getting a big refund isn’t the worst thing in the world.

  • Bonuses at Work: Bonuses at work are sometimes expected and sometimes completely unexpected. Take them, run, and don’t look back. Yes, I’m being dramatic, but you get the idea.
  • Birthday or Holiday Money: If you’re lucky enough to have friends and relatives who like to shower you with monetary gifts, take it! But, don’t waste it!   
  • Inheritance: Windfalls that involve inheritances often wind up plopping huge sums of money in the recipient’s lap. Hopefully you loved that person as much as they loved you.

My Most Recent Windfall

Every year at work we have the option to complete a health questionnaire in exchange for a $200 bonus. Choosing to participate means you’re required to enter things such as your weight, diet,  and exercise habits. They also want to know if you smoke, drink alcohol, or drive without your seat belt.

Of course I assume the company is just collecting personal data that will eventually be used to increase health insurance rates. Those increases will undoubtedly affect people not deemed to be leading a healthy lifestyle. No matter, since I know my lifestyle leans toward healthy, I don’t mind giving up some information, especially when $200 is at stake.

This Year Was Different

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What would you do with a windfall?

This year, however, was different. Completion wasn’t as easy as filling out a few questions on an online form. This year my employer required us to register for some activity app that tracked our progress. We were tracked on daily activities that included real work. That work was in the form of not drinking caffeine late in the day, eating more veggies, and being grateful. There were others to choose from, but those were my 3. And on top of that, we had to participate in a physical activity that was also tracked via the app.

I signed up for an activity that required me to run 3 miles/day for 3 days in a row. Sure, I enjoy working out and getting into shape, what I don’t enjoy is being forced into it. But hey, $200 was on the table. That’s essentially FREE money. And you gotta know how we feel about free money around here.

So, since I felt forced into this activity, my motivation was in the gutter. In order to get myself excited to complete this final challenge and earn my whoppin’ $200 bonus, I needed a solid plan for the money. Think: dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit. Or in my case, a McDonald’s french fry! I’m lovin’ it 🙂

3 Miles A Day

After debating over a few options, I finally decided the best way to manage my windfall would be to invest it in our total stock market index fund! And there you have it, my incredibly boring plan to manage my whoppin’ $200 was to stash it away in our index fund.

As I hit the road running each day for 3 days in a row, I thought about receiving the money in my check and making the virtual transfer to our investment account. Saving and investing still gets my blood pumping…even if it is only a measly $200. That’s still another $200 closer we will be to financial independence. And remember, millionaires are made a little at a time. I think I can, I think I can…

Our Wealth Journey

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Mad Money Cat never breaks a sweat

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the 20-dollar bill and how you should still be dazzled by it. Hopefully, you still are. However, I’m sure for some of you, it just doesn’t get you excited like it used to. But, it should!

Let me tell you, there are plenty of people who look at windfalls, big and small, and just see more money they can blow on stuff. I can say with certainty that if my parents would’ve socked away each and every windfall they ever received, my mom wouldn’t be in the situation she’s in today. Today, she lives off of a paltry social security check and, sadly, the charity of others. If they only would’ve continued to be dazzled by $20, my mom could be living a much more comfortable life.

Since we are choosing to take a more active role in our wealth and the future of our finances, we do our absolute best to make each dollar count. That means we’re still dazzled by $20 and we invest any windfalls that happen to cross our path – even when they’re only a couple hundred dollars.

So, how would you spend a $200 windfall? Do you think I’m being a bit too uptight? Or, do you think you would do the same thing? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Lisa is the creator and resident writer at Mad Money Monster. She's a mother, scientist, and financial guru on a mission to save Generation X from working until they die!

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22 comments… add one
  • Jacq Apr 21, 2017, 1:07 am

    I try to use a little for a treat, and save the rest. I had earmarked money from my bonus for new shoes, and then got a gift card from work. The gift card paid for 1 pair, but they couldn’t do a partial for the second pair. I decided to get my hair trimmed and used the remainder at the salon. Now the equivalent money can stay in savings, which I’m building up to max out my Roth. 🙂
    I feel like I need to explain getting 2 new pair of shoes. I get the same style in black & brown, and end up wearing them 90% of the time, work and weekends. The last time I got a new pair was possibly early 2015 of before. Due to the frequent use, it’s time to update. 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 21, 2017, 1:09 pm

      I do the exact same thing with my shoes! I get the same style in different colors. They pretty much cover me with almost every outfit and they last for YEARS!

  • Daniel Apr 18, 2017, 3:59 pm

    I have a “windfall calculator” on one of my spreadsheets. I put in the amount and boom, it tells me where to put the money. 10% for the house account (house maintenance), 10% car account (car maintenance), 10% vacation account (gotta live a little), 10% for the mortgage(not big on prepayment, but this is a windfall), 10% cash savings account (always good to have truly liquid funds), 40% to investments and then, also because you have to have some enjoyment, 5% each to our “no questions” (aka allowance) accounts since, hey, it’s a windfall and you gotta live a little bit.

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 18, 2017, 4:31 pm

      I’m also a bit proponent of “livin’ a little”…financial goal fatigue is avoidable by rewarding ourselves here and there!

  • Mariana Apr 17, 2017, 3:34 pm

    I sold a designer blanket on eBay. A friend was moving last year and he gave it to us. I kept posting it on eBay for the last year and basically lost hope it would ever sell. Well, it sold for $299 + shipping last Saturday!. After ebay fee and shipping I am netting $260 and change.
    $250 will buy me some more VTSAX 🙂
    and I am leaving $10 in my paypal account.
    I am boring like that

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 17, 2017, 3:44 pm

      YES! Just seeing the VTSAX symbol gets me excited! Boring is awesome 🙂

  • MyMoneyDesign Apr 17, 2017, 6:49 am

    I love it! Exactly what I’d do too. I just got a $3,000 bonus from work and my wife was like “let me guess … you’re just going to save it, right?” Yup!

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 17, 2017, 2:07 pm

      Two thumbs up!!

    • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance Apr 18, 2017, 8:44 am

      Mr. FAF and I also got a huge windfall in March with a tax refund and a bonus. What did we do with it? We put everything towards our mortgage and never think about what windfall again.

      • Mad Money Monster Apr 18, 2017, 8:49 am

        That is such an awesome plan! I think it’s all about what you value and perspective. When I throw extra cash at a mortgage or investments, I get an amazing rush watching my net worth go up, up, and away.

        Two thumbs up on knocking out your mortgage. You guys are so weird! I love it 🙂

  • Kate Apr 13, 2017, 1:42 pm

    Nothing wrong with boring! I’d probably do the same 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 13, 2017, 4:34 pm

      Yeppers! 🙂

  • FinancePatriot Apr 13, 2017, 11:19 am

    I’ve never thought about a windfall as a different color than any other money I get- green. Therefore, without thought, it goes into savings or gets invested. I can’t even comprehend treating one bucket of money different than another bucket. It all goes to the same goal. I don’t regret being able to retire at 41, at all. I’ll be happy to let the others spend their money, windfall or regular income.

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 13, 2017, 4:38 pm

      Wise words! Awesome you retired at 41 too!

  • Jackie - Undo My Debt Apr 13, 2017, 10:36 am

    I did the same thing except instead of investing, I put it all toward my debt. Nothing fun came out of it but it’s going to be making a big impact toward my 2017 Debt Free goal over the course of the year.

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 13, 2017, 4:37 pm

      WooHoo! Awesome goal for 2017!

  • Jax Apr 13, 2017, 10:00 am

    I probably would have done the same as you. I typically use windfalls like that to pay bills or put into savings (not that they happen often…) It would have to be more than $1,000 for me to use some of it on “fun” things-and even then only a small part of it.

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 13, 2017, 4:36 pm

      Exactly! Those little windfalls really add up over the years.

  • Piggy of Bitches Get Riches Apr 12, 2017, 4:54 pm

    This is the sexiest thing I’ve ever read. <3

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 17, 2017, 2:08 pm

      Hahaha…thank you!

  • Erik @ The Mastermind Within Apr 12, 2017, 10:13 am

    In November, I received a gift card for $150 as a thank you at work for high performance. I didn’t do much with it. Basically, I used it finance my usual things… groceries, food, etc. I treated it like any other income I get, save it 🙂

    Thanks for sharing $200 is a nice bonus 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Apr 12, 2017, 11:13 am

      That’s cool. $150 is still $150! Glad to hear you were able to use it to offset some expenses that month!

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