Picture this: you bought a lottery ticket. You knew the odds were slim, but why not throw your name into the mix for a $100 million jackpot, right?

And now, you're watching in awe: "The winning numbers are 86, 75, 30, 9...."

You can't believe your eyes. It can't be..... you've won.  

Are you set for life, or did you just win a one-way ticket to a life of pain, crime, murder, and emotional (or literal) bankruptcy? Let's find out.

“I wish that we had torn the ticket up.”

Those are the words of Jack Whittaker, the ill-fated winner of the $315 million Powerball in 2002. In the 18 years that followed, he was drugged, robbed, divorced, sued, and lost his home to a house fire. He called it the curse of the lottery.

“I just don’t like Jack Whittaker. I don’t like the hard heart I’ve got,” he said. “I don’t like what I’ve become.”

But does it have to be that way?

Nope! There are plenty of success stories too. Here are some practical tips to protect your theoretical windfall.  

⭐ Don't tell a soul, at least not right away. Make a copy of your ticket and hide it in a lock box. If your state allows it, stay anonymous or hide behind a trust when accepting the winnings.

Do the marshmallow test. If you can pass the marshmallow test, take the lump sum. If you can't, take the annuity option (paid out over time).

⭐ Go on vacation. Take a breather, wait for the hype to die down, and don't make any lifestyle changes for at least 2 months.

Set aside $25 million and it could generate the equivalent of a $1 million salary every year. Now you just have to be thoughtful with what's left over.

Write your reverse-bucket list. Now that you can have everything, make a list of the things you don't want to lose in your new life. This is your north star as you consider how to spend and grow your money.

Your lucky catch is coming!

At some point, you'll experience some of life's smaller 'lotteries' — birthday money from grandma, end-of-year bonuses, wedding checks, or a small inheritance.

The rules don't change — putting that money in the right places can help you reach financial freedom much sooner. If you learned anything from our friend, Benjamin Franklin, it's that compounding interest is the key to growing your money. All it takes is a plan.

The Playbook take

Jack Whittaker was wrong. The lottery isn't cursed, and any windfall of cash can become an opportunity for financial freedom, hobbies, philanthropy, and more time with loved ones.

Take Brad Duke, for example. He won $220 million jackpot and kept his daily routine.

"I stayed in my house, drove a used car for, you know, up to three years afterwards. The more I started to fantasize about what I could do with the money, the more I felt like I should try and keep my feet on the ground and change as little as I could."

Real financial freedom isn't just about having money, it's about freedom from financial stress. Move towards the things that bring you joy, and build a financial plan to get you there. (We can help!)

To financial freedom and beyond,

The app for growing your money.