Posts by ZigZig

What To Do After a Financial Windfall

One by one, you check and then re-check the numbers in disbelief. They match. All six of them. All of the time you spent fantasizing about winning the lottery didn’t prepare you for the reality: the tiny piece of paper in your hand is worth millions of dollars, even $400 million, if you’ve just played the Powerball in July of 2016.

What should you do first when you hit the lottery?

We have a natural bias towards action, but sometimes, the best thing to do is to wait. Acting too quickly can lead you to end up like the stars of the TLC reality show “Lottery Ruined up My life”, or Michael Carroll, a British man who won $15million, and before long was spending all his cash on prostitutes and crack cocaine.
In the meantime, keep your ticket somewhere safe, like the safety deposit box at the bank. Collect your thoughts, let the emotion pass through you, and come up with a plan.

1. Decide if you want to stay anonymous.

There’s much to be said for the anonymity strategy. Former lottery winners report a host of problems emanating from the publicity of their lottery win. Being the target of criminals, friends and family members with their hands out, resentment. You may decide that the excitement of a public interview with the Powerball Lottery Commissioner isn’t worth all of the hassle, and danger. The problem is that not all states currently allow lottery recipients to collect their prizes anonymously, so if you decide you want to stay anonymous, you need to do some quick research to find out if this is possible. Our home state at ZigZig is New Jersey, and a quick google search reveals that while a bill to make lottery anonymity has passed part of the state legislature, it is not currently a law. So we would be out of luck on this front.

2. Talk to a lawyer.

If you decided on the anonymity route, you should speak to a lawyer before anyone else. A lawyer will help you set up a trust or corporation that can be used to claim the prize.

3. Plan your strategy

First, you’ll need to decide if you’ll take the lump sum or annuity option Take a look at the calculator at Afterlotto.com After Tax Lottery Calculator You can then compare the after-tax lump-sum payment against the total amount of the annuity. Then use a financial calculator to compare the Net Present Value of the two options to see which is higher. You may also want to consider whether you have the financial discipline to manage a lump sum payment. Be very, very honest with yourself. Even if the NPV of the annuity option is lower, you’ll have the security of knowing that you’ll have checks coming in for a long, long time (usually 30 years). --Charity. If you’ve been looking to give a large sum of money to a charitable cause, the year of your windfall may be a good time to do it, because charitable donations are tax-deductible against your gross income.

4. Write out a will

Perhaps you never had the assets to make estate planning a priority. But now that you’re instantly wealthy, without a will, death might very well produce animosity and infighting among the people you care about most.

5. Gifts

Many lottery winners are excited to finally be able to buy expensive gifts for their friends and families. Why not buy a car for every member of your extended family? Before you go ahead and buy a fleet of automobiles, you should know that the annual gift tax exclusion is only $14,000 per donee. So if the value of the vehicle is in excess of $14,000, the donor will owe tax on that amount. Don’t get hit with an unexpected tax bill.


Most of us will never hit the lottery. But most people will at some point or another receive some financial windfall. It could be an unexpected bonus at work for $10,000, a $100,000 inheritance from your Aunt Ninny, an insurance payout, the sale of a business or other asset. The same principles apply: take a moment and breath, don’t act too quickly. Pick an amount of time, 3 or 6 months for instance, as a cooling-off period, and don’t make any large purchases or investments until that time is over. This is a way of ensuring that despite your good fortune, you stay methodical, and don’t allow your life to become too chaotic, so you can make good decisions. Starting a Zig, which is a customizable savings plan, can be a good way to get in the habit of planning your financial future, helping you to eliminate the chaos that comes after a sudden financial gain.

How to Save for Your Next Vacation

The best way to save for your next vacation: instead of waiting until you magically have enough money to take a vacation, create your trip budget now and start saving! When you get clear on what you want and how  much you need, saving towards your travel budget will fit seamlessly into your personal budget. Tools like ZigZig can help you plan and save up while you look forward to your trip. Plan out Your Trip and Estimate the saving for travelCost Airfare is likely to be one of the larger chunks of your travel costs. Avoiding traveling during major holidays will certainly save you, so consider  flexibility with your travel dates. Less desirable early morning or evening flights will usually be better deals. In addition, research shows that  booking at least 1-4 months in advance of a domestic trips is the sweet spot for travel deals, with 47 days being the ideal mark. International  flights vary more but buying at least 90 days in advance will save you from surges in price. And don’t forget to check out baggage charges! If you’re flexible with your destination, you can use tools like Kayak’s Explorer Tool, Google flights or SkyScanner’s “To: ‘Everywhere’” functions to  find the cheapest flights from your city. Signing up for fare alerts on travel search engines such as SkyScanner.com or airfarewatchdog.com are also  great options to be alerted when the price dips on your ideal destination. Open a Dedicated Savings Account It can be so easy to say we want to put away $100, $200, $300 a month towards anything we’re saving for. But when it comes down to it, for many of us, if it’s in our checking account, it’s going to get spent. With a  majority of people spending and even paying bills using credit cards, it can be easy to lose track of what of your income is going towards your monthly fixed/variable expenses, savings and disposable income. By  setting up a separate account, you are making it that much easier to save for your trip. There are tons of free options for opening savings accounts, just make sure you check on required minimum balance or other  fees. Once you have a dedicated savings account for your trip, ZigZig can be used to keep track of your saving progress. Choose Your Own Adventure Are you going budget traveler or life of luxury on your trip? Hotels, AirBnB, hostels are just a few of the options you have for lodging on your trip but the costs will vary. If you’re all about hanging out on the beach of  your luxury resort, then allocating money towards excursions may not be as important. Or you may opt for low cost lodging and take a few excursions. You don't necessarily need to have every detail of your trip planned, but researching ahead of time to see how much some interesting tours or excursions cost will help you figure your budget for lodging and activities. The same rules apply to hotels and other lodging options  – if you’re flexible and willing to travel in offseason, you can be certain to score better rates. A discount could be available to you and you don't even know it! Students, alumni, teachers, emergency workers, AAA members, AARP members, military personnel, and government employees can all receive discounts when they shop, dine, or stay at hotels. Call hotels or check out their websites to learn more about membership and organization discounts. If you’re flexible, a great option for cheaper hotel fairs is HotelTonight, an iPhone and Android app that gives you last minute deals on multiple hotels. From up to seven days in advance to day of, the prices typically  continue to drop as the week goes on and you can end up in a 5-star hotel for a 3-star price. However, for budgeting purposes, it would be best to give yourself at least a range based on typical prices for the area  you’re planning on visiting. You've Gotta Eat Meals and alcohol are another big chunk of your travel budget. Before you arrive, do some research online and see what others say about how expensive the food is where you are going as it can be vastly different  depending on your destination. For example, you can get meals for $1 in Thailand but if you’re in Iceland, expect to pay at least $15-18 per meal. Remember, if you go the AirBnB (or similar) route, you often have  access to a kitchen and can prepare some of your own meals to cut on cost. Or, if traveling in the states (as there are less food rules), I often bring my own food and snacks to at least cover me for my flight(s) to avoid  overly expensive airport food. Now that you know how much your trip is going to cost, here are my suggestions for how to save. Create Automatic Transfers If you really want to make sure you are saving towards your trip and it stays put, set up automatic transfers. It’s a simple, one-time setup on your online banking portal that will keep you on track without having to  remember to go in each week or month. This also helps to prevent spending your savings before you have the chance to transfer it over yourself. When I said seamless, I meant it! Now get started and make your dream adventure a reality!