What to Do With a Financial Windfall – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

It’s a cliché, but it’s also true: Every cloud really does have a silver lining. That was hammered home for me after I was recently rear-ended in a car accident. I wasn’t hurt, but it was a frightening experience, and the amount of paperwork required in its aftermath was sometimes overwhelming. 

After I filed my claim and it was processed, my auto insurer deemed my car a total loss. But before I had time to mourn the fact that I was carless—again—the silver lining emerged: I was refunded part of my auto insurance premium for the month, and I was cut a check for $11,000, which was what my auto insurance company concluded my 2014 Chevy Cruze was worth. While the settlement wasn’t a Powerball, “quit my job” amount, it did give me pause, because I had to decide what to do with it. 

Back to Basics

I knew I didn’t want to run out and lock myself into an auto loan for another car. With prices for new and used vehicles still crazy high, adding a car payment didn’t sit well with me—especially since my old car was paid off. Plus, the Washington, D.C. metro area has a public transit system that I had used consistently before I had a car. So I did what I’ve been meaning to do for a while: I added money to my emergency fund. 

You generally want to have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses stashed in a dedicated savings account in case of a job loss, medical emergency or costly car-repair bill. (Here’s more on where to find emergency cash.) However, with inflation running at about 9%, you should stash more in the account. 

Bulking up your savings by about 10% or more will give you more protection in the event of an emergency, says Samantha Gorelick, a certified financial planner with Brunch & Budget, a financial planning firm. You need to be prepared to cover your expenses at elevated prices if inflation continues, she says. 

If you don’t have an emergency fund, an unexpected windfall is a good way to start one. Put your money to work by parking it an interest-bearing savings account. Rates are climbing for both savings and money market accounts at many financial institutions. (For current rates on top-yielding accounts, go to depositaccounts.com.) 

Another personal finance basic to consider: Pay down any credit card debt you have. For those carrying a balance, using even a modest windfall to pay it down could put you on a better financial footing and potentially increase your credit score. 

In my case, although my revolving balance …….

Source: https://www.kiplinger.com/personal-finance/605158/what-to-do-with-a-windfall

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