Yesterday’s Australian Powerball jackpot dished out a record-breaking $150 million – here’s what experts say you should do if you miraculously won

$150 million is up for grabs on Thursday night. Supplied.
  • Thursday night’s Powerball jackpot could see one Australian instantly made $150 million richer. With plenty of stories abounding about how lottery winners quickly went on to lose it all, we spoke to a couple of financial planners about what you should actually do with that kind of money.
  • From keeping your win quiet to not throwing in your job straight away, the tips might go against your initial impulses but may just help you hang on to your money for longer.

$150 million is a staggering amount of money and on Thursday it could be won by a single Australian in a record-breaking Powerball lottery draw.

While there’ll be no shortage of daydreams leading up to the draw, it’s a more difficult proposition when you actually need to start making some decisions.

“I’ve actually had a couple of clients who have won the lottery and it really can change your life,” financial planner Adele Martin told Business Insider Australia.

While neither won hundreds of millions, each received enough to make some life-altering decisions. So if you have the good luck to receive a small fortune on Thursday night, here’s what the experts suggest you consider.

If you win Powerball, the first thing you should do is absolutely nothing

Let’s face it. If you were to win $150 million, or even a fraction of it, you’re liable to go into shock. That’s why after you’ve received the good news, and presumably stopped jumping for joy, you should do nothing, according to financial planner David Moloney.

“The first thing is to sit on it, and just resist spending it. Put a time frame on it, and don’t go crazy for maybe the first 12 months,” the Avant-garde Financial Services director said.

“The first idea that pops into your head probably isn’t going to be the best decision you could make.”

That prudent advice means you probably shouldn’t run out and buy a pacific island – at least without thinking it over.

Keep it to yourself

Likewise, while you might feel the inclination to scream it from the rooftops, it might be better to keep your win to yourself and your immediate family.

“I think athletes are the best example of this, especially in the US where you have NBA and NFL stars on $200 million contracts. Those deals are very public and those professional athletes tend to squander most of it simply because everyone is looking for a handout,” Moloney said.

“Yes, it’s a lot of money but it doesn’t go very far if you find yourself supporting the whole village.”

While some might think that $150 million is more money than you could spend in a lifetime, plenty of people have proven that hypothesis wrong, losing the whole lot (and, sometimes, more) in no time at all.

“It happens and the reason for that I think is that you haven’t earned it,” Martin, the director of Firefly Wealth, said. “When you work hard and save, you’re less inclined to go out and blow your money.”

Easy come, easy go, as they say.

Create a plan

The best way ultimately to make your money last is to have a plan.

“Whether it’s a lottery win or an inheritance, it’s all about thinking super clearly about what’s important to you,” Martin said. “Do you want to never work again or change careers or go part-time? Is it about buying a house or going on a holiday you’ve been dreaming of?”

When you know what’s really important to you, you can nail down a game plan.

“Once you figure out what kind of income you need to live off, it becomes a lot easier to make decisions,” Martin said.

In other words, knowing you’re going sailing in Croatia in the summer, for example, will stop you spending it on something dumb. You know, like MC Hammer, who hired 200 servants to wait on him. Unsurprisingly, Mr Hammer went broke not long after.

READ MORE: 18 celebrities who were rich and famous before losing all their money

Don’t put it all in one basket

Whether you win the lottery or not, one of the golden rules of investing is to never bet the house.

“If you’re putting that money to work you want to know what kind of returns you’re targetting and what kind of risk you’re willing to take on,” Moloney said.

“Obviously a financial planner is going to be a big help figuring out how to build a diversified portfolio.”

But rather than trying to double it overnight, any winner should be more concerned with simply not trying to lose it.

“It’s about taking the least amount of risk. In some cases, it’s just about preserving it and not taking unnecessary risks,” Martin said.

“It’s boring but earning 2% interest on $150 million amounts to $3 million a year in earnings before tax.”

Even after tax, you could probably afford smashed avo every single day making more than $1.5 million a year.

Enjoy it responsibly

This list might be full of prudent advice and cautionary tales but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your spoils. You just have to be smart about it.

“I like to compartmentalise things so you could put some millions aside and just use the passive income it produces to fund your entertainment,” Moloney said.

Having a steady stream of passive income also means even if you spend the lot, as long as you don’t erode the capital, there’s always more on its way.

Think about what you’re passionate about

Just because you’re being smart with your money, it doesn’t mean you have to be dull with it.

“You could find something you’re interested in and get involved in it. If you’re interested in start-ups you could take a little money and try to find the next big thing in Australia,” Moloney said.

“It’s obviously a lot riskier, but you can still make small calculated bets on things you’re interested in.”

Think about a legacy

While it’s tempting to think of the different ways you could blow $150 million in a weekend, the win actually puts you in a position to do some real good as well.

“Once you’ve paid off the family home, and you’ve got enough money to enjoy yourself, it’s worth thinking about what your legacy is going to be,” Moloney said.

“You could do some philanthropy or set up a separate trust that will distribute your wealth evenly.”

Consider forgoing a ticket

Sure, by this stage you’ve already plotted the lavish lifestyle you’ll be able to fund from your windfall. But if you haven’t bought a ticket yet, there’s good reason to think you’d be better off without it.

Considering the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are about 1 in 134.5 million, according to Lotterywest, you would have a greater chance of becoming a millionaire by getting rich slow – $100 per week for] 40 years, assuming a 7% pa return (over long term, a diversified portfolio would have easily returned 7% or more).

While it’s not much better for other draws, that doesn’t stop Australians spending more than $2 billion on the Lotto and scratchies every year.

“You would actually have a greater chance of becoming a millionaire by getting rich slow,” Martin said.

Becoming a millionaire by skipping Powerball

If you’re spending $100 a week on tickets, you could instead put it aside and guarantee you’ll get rich instead of taking the gamble.

Given that a long term diversified portfolio would have easily returned 7% or more, according to Martin, $100 invested per week over 40 years amounts to a much safer shot at striking it rich.

It might not be $150 million, but it’s also $1 million more than most Australians are likely to take home on Thursday.

Consider making a change anyway

Finally, if you’re desperately trying to win a fortune it might be time to face facts.

“If you are buying a lotto ticket to escape your life then its probably a sign that you need to look at your current life to see what changes you can make to improve your life,” Martin said.

“I’ve worked with several clients, for example, and helped them have career changes or work less and this has made them much happier.”

Money, after all, doesn’t buy happiness but a change of scenery just might.

This article contains general information only and is not intended to be used as personal advice.