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Windfall Money

The Apple Orchard!

Walk through an apple orchard, or your grandmother’s garden, perhaps, and, if it’s sometime around the end of August, you’ll probably stumble across an apple, fallen from the tree. It’s probably been gently eased from its branch by the wind, or it has simply dropped, its weight defying the tenuous joint between apple stork and branch. You look at it lying there, debating what to do with it. Should you pick it up and eat it? Or, take it inside and give it to your mum? You could take it home with you and certainly save it for another time.

Your apple is, literally, a windfall. That is, something you weren’t expecting but which has, by virtue of the wind, dropped by chance at your feet.

Landing in Your Lap...

Windfalls are also what we call things which, purely by chance, land in our laps: we haven’t done anything to get them; they simply happen. A windfall can be money left to you by a distant aunt in her will. Or large, or small, unexpected amounts of cash or things of value, like jewellery or bonds or shares. A windfall can be money paid out by companies or building societies when they pay bonuses, or a big (or small) win on the premium bonds, the lottery or even a TV quiz show!

Making Smart Decisions!

Like the decision we face when finding the apple fallen from the tree, we need to make best use of a windfall when we get one!

A cash windfall is probably the simplest to deal with and very much depends upon what we think is important at the time. Save some and spend a bit, save, spend and give some away, or give it all away! A simple decision; the difficult bit is how much should we save, spend or give away. Bonds and shares are a little more complicated. If you keep them, they might lose some value; whereas, they could, just as easily increase in value. Remember, it will cost money to actually get rid of them: commissions to agents and so on.

If you’re left a vintage car, that could be a wonderful windfall, worth a packet. On the other hand, it could be an albatross around your neck, and, whereas the value of the car could be, well, lots, once it’s yours, you have to look after it just to maintain that value. That means paying for a garage to store it in. And not any old garage will do. It’s got to be warm, dry and safe. Then you have to insure the car, maintain it, keep it clean… Of course you can sell it, but even if you do, you’ll generally pay an agent or an auctioneer a commission to get rid of it.

OINK! Thinks

Windfall can be a burden as well as a blessing! It’s very difficult to generalise because each of us lives under different circumstances. Money is clearly the easiest windfall to manage, and what we do with it will depend on our priorities. Saving is always good, and blowing a bit of cash on oneself or one’s friends is fun. Giving some of your windfall away to charity, is a nice thing to do and becomes a windfall for those who benefit from your gift.

Windfall or ‘A Can of Worms’

Windfalls other than money are a different matter altogether, and again will depend on our circumstances. If we can’t keep the windfall or it costs us money to keep it – that vintage car for instance – then it’s probably better to sell it… fast. Put it up for auction and offer it on EBAY - even if that means you’ll have to pay a commission on the sale. Remember, it was a windfall and did not cost you anything.

Windfall Pitfall!

Don’t forget one thing about windfalls: there may be some tax to pay depending upon how you deal with them. So it’s always good to take some advice from an accountant so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Like the apple, your windfall could be sweet and delicious; it could also turn out to be sour and full of worms!!


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