We Are All a Windfall Winning Away From Idiocy

Lottery ballsNow that the NHL and NBA titles have been decided, I am left holding my DirectTV channel changer devoid of worthy athletic events. I’m sorry, but a PGA event from Milwaukee or a Nascar race from Michigan or even Wimbledon with most of the top seeds already eliminated just isn’t getting it done for me. Yes…we’ve entered the television sports nadir I’ve written about in prior blogs. Without sports to occupy my weekend or nightly mind, I’m left to mindless surfing. Recently, I happened across a piece that caused a pause. The show, whose title or channel is not remembered, held me spellbound for 45 minutes as horror stories of lottery winners were recounted. I went online recently to find a listing of these individual Hindenburg’s and sure enough….found one with all the ones I saw that night.

Perhaps my favorite is the 1988 story of William Post who won $16.2M in the Pensylvania Lottery and now subsists on Social Security. His loving and loyal girlfriend sued him for a share of his winnings and one of his brothers was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him…and you thought your family was dysfunctional. Within a year, he was $1 Million in debt and declared bankruptcy.1

Jack Whittaker found out on Christmas morning 2002 that he’d won the largest Powerball jackpot ever--$305M. His world became cursed with the winnings as his granddaughter died from a drug overdose that his money helped fund and his marriage fell apart. He gave away money to legitimate and illegitimate causes and became the focus of thieves, shysters, and Klingons. He turned to alcohol and ended up broke and destroyed.1

Finally, Willie Hurt won a 1989 $3.1M lottery in Michigan and was broke in two years and charged with murder while spending his fortune on a divorce and crack cocaine.1

Besides providing stories of human interest, what do these anecdotes of excess and naiveté have to do with our financial blog? Through the years, we’ve seen our share of clients win their own forms “lotteries” only to squander the vast majority on their own excesses. Whether clients have inherited money; sold their businesses at relatively young ages; or been a part of companies that went public, some of our own clients have not heeded our advice or followed the financial plans we have mapped out as they have chased their own trinkets.

The purchase of second and sometimes third homes while providing substantial, enabling support for children or grandchildren has put undue stress on assets. Yachts, sports cars, and business ventures all have eroded nest eggs that should have provided the surety of lifetime income. We’ve seen smart, well-meaning people walk into these traps and like inexperienced young adults make mistakes that have left this handful of client’s futures tenuous at best.

What’s the moral of this story? Without taking the advice of financial planners, both the highly intelligent and brain dead can become mesmerized by things that are bright and shiny. Thankfully, the vast majority of our clients who have had their own windfalls followed spending plans that have protected principal while allowing them to still enjoy the finer things in life. If fortune bestows you, seek the advice from those that can help you not end up like a lottery winner. Because if you listen, we can help save you from yourself! 1 Social Speak Out: Top 10 Lottery Horror Stories. By Joao Fernandes. May 21, 2013. http://www.socialspeakout.com/profiles/blogs/here-are-the-top-10-lottery-horror-stories

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance references is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Member FINRA/SIPC.