What to Do With a Financial Windfall

Even if you only got a little bit lucky, it still pays to have a strategy.

rainbow with pot of gold at end
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

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Rivan V. Stinson
Ex-staff writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Rivan joined Kiplinger on Leap Day 2016 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. A Michigan native, she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 and from there freelanced as a local copy editor and proofreader, and served as a research assistant to a local Detroit journalist. Her work has been featured in the Ann Arbor Observer and Sage Business Researcher. She is currently assistant editor, personal finance at The Washington Post.