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…
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
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
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!