Windfall: an unexpected, unearned, or sudden gain or advantage.
We typically get two windfalls per year. A tax refund and a mid year bonus. Windfalls can also include gifts.
Mostly they are dangerous, because there is a tendency to treat this money differently.
It is easy to treat it as “free money” and watch it pass through our fingers like water.
Then we ask ourselves, “Where did it go?”
If you do not have an answer to this question it feels heartbreaking and defeating. I know from experience.
Kevin and I have worked hard these last few years to combat this “free money” mindset and use these windfalls wisely.
My main strategy is my list. I am sure Kevin is laughing at this because I have lists all over our house. I am a list person.
But this list is different. It is essentially a Word Document of needs/wants. It is dynamic and I update it often.
Shoes worn out? Add it to the list.
Bike rack? Add it to the list.
Anything that pops in my head as a potential purchase goes on the list. This doesn’t mean I will buy it, but knowing I can add anything to the list provides a sense of autonomy.
Then when a windfall comes along I pull out my list.
I rank the items according to priority. New shoes for the growing kids are more important than new kitchen knives.
The best part of the list is I usually remove several items each time I revisit it. Sometimes I am shocked I even considered purchasing certain items.
So this last pay period we knew a windfall was approaching.
Before referencing my list, I used part of the windfall towards savings, debt, and rent. Whatever was left after these three could go towards items on the list.
I got out my list, and here are a few of the planned purchases we made:
- Beach vacation hotel and gas: I cannot express in words how an ocean breeze feels after 110 degree days!!!!
- Shade tent: for beach vacation, future camping trips, and general life in the desert.
- Wipeable beach blanket: for beach vacation, future camping trips, and picnics in the park.
- Sand toys and goggles: for the beach and parks/pool at home.
- Two birthday gifts: for our daughter (all Hatchimal related)
- Twin mattress: for our daughter
- Hitch Bike rack: Our salvage rack broke and this will enable us to drop Kevin off at work with his bike and use the car more. And we can take bikes camping and on date night!!
We also have other planned purchases coming up, but these were the main ones from this pay period.
It feels good to tell our money where to go. It feels good to have a plan for the windfall.
We can list off our purchases and know they are items we waited for and researched.
No more asking, “Where did my money go?”
Instead we say, “I am glad we used our money for that.”
How do you manage windfalls??