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How to handle a financial windfall

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How often to do hear about the poor sucker who was just scraping by, wins the lottery, and a few years later is right back to the same financial position he was in before (if not worse) due to poor decisions? As someone with a background in accounting and finance, it is the story that really makes me bang my head against the wall and ask the question “Why?”.

Thankfully, this is not one of those stories – in fact, it is just the opposite. In the August 27 issue of The Sporting News, columnist Steve Greenberg writes about Philip Ozersky. Although you may not know his name, you would certainly know the source of his good fortune. On September 27, 1998, Ozersky caught Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball, and 15 weeks later sold it at auction for a cool $3 million.

So did Ozersky go out and spend all the money on fast cars and other frivolous items? Nope! According to the article, his big expenditures from his windfall were:

  • A new house, across the street from his sister.
  • A vacation home in Florida. The two bedroom villa is mainly for use of his father who had a debilitating stroke years ago and likes to escape the Midwestern cold five months a year.
  • Frequent trips to Arizona to visit the in-laws.
  • Season tickets to the Rams and Cardinals.
  • About $250,000 in charitable donation.

No new fancy cars, women with plastic parts, drugs, or the other typical trappings of the “lucky” recipients of a large windfall. He still works at his old job in genetic research and drives the same 1994 Ford Probe he bought after he graduated from college.

It is nice to see good things happen to people with enough sense to make the most of it, even if he is a dirty Cardinals fan! GO CUBS! =)

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August 26, 2007 - Posted by | Basics

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