Maybe it was that lucky penny you picked up off the sidewalk yesterday. Or maybe it was just coincidence. But you are 1 in 302 million. YOU WON THE JACKPOT! YOU WON THE LOTTERY!

If you’re sitting there with an imminent pile of cash, even if it’s not the $654 million prize, you’re likely wanting to be wise with your money. But what should you do? You’ve never had this much money before.

The good news is, if you’re wise, you could set yourself up for life and not work another day. You could free yourself from drudgery and live out your dreams.

It takes discipline. And if you are willing to sacrifice now, you will gain rewards later. Here’s how you can make money from your piles of cash.

1. Pay Off Your Debts Immediately

You were sitting in your living room drinking tepid beer when the winning lottery numbers appeared on your TV screen. They matched your ticket. Your first instinct was to go buy airplane tickets and fund your dream vacation.

This is the wrong first move.

It might seem counter-intuitive to spend money to make money. It might hurt to see the money go toward debt. But it’s a sure way to save money down the road.

Why? Because debt is expensive.

You have to look at loans and credit card debt differently. Those are purchases. If you get a $30,000 car loan at an incredibly low rate of 6% for five years, you’re spending $4800 to buy $30,000 so you can buy a car now.

It’s worse with credit card debt. Credit cards are 14-22% APR. If you’re $6k in debt and you pay it over 5 years, you’ll spend $3900 on top of your $6k.

Pay off all your debt now including your house payments and you’ll save all that interest. If you pay off a house loan, you’ll now own your property. Property is an investment and it will likely gain value over time.

2. Set Up An Annuity

If you’re playing the lottery, you’re likely not rich. You’ve never experienced wealth in this way. Thus, you probably don’t have the discipline to handle your money wisely.

What if one day you experience a tragic life event. On a whim, you buy a yacht or a private jet. You travel, spend all your funds in an attempt to stymie your negative emotions.

Then you’re back where you started. Only this time you don’t have a job and you haven’t advanced your career. You might even end up on the streets.

One way to ensure you don’t spend all your money in a moment of weakness is through an annuity. An annuity is a guaranteed way to both invest and grow your money and at the same time break your money into monthly allowances.

There are a few things you should ask when you set up your annuity.

What Is the Minimum Guaranteed Return?

The reason you want an annuity is two-fold. First, you want a fixed income for the rest of your life. Two, you want to invest your money and get a return.

The best annuities guarantee a return on your investment no matter what. This is called the minimum guaranteed return.

This is only in a worst-case scenario where the investments flop. You’ll at least know how much you’re gaining yearly on your money.

There Are Fees For Pulling Out Too Soon

With some things in life, pulling out too soon is a good thing. But that’s not the case with an annuity.

An annuity is an agreement with a financial firm that you’ll leave your money invested in their portfolios for a certain amount of time. It’s your prerogative if you want to break contract, but they’ll charge you a fee before you get your money back.

You want to find out what those fees are before you decide on an annuity. But generally, the longer you hold on to your annuity, the lower the pull-out fee is.

Be Wary of Initial And Annual Fees

Some annuity companies are borderline scammy. They tack on hidden fees and take half your money.

You want to avoid these companies. And if they see you on the news, they may hike their fees even higher. Be sly and be wise. Don’t cave under their slick sales tactics.

When you go in to shop for an annuity, don’t just buy the first one you come across. Remember, you’re going to work with these people for the rest of your life. You want to feel comfortable.

Also remember, if you’ve won a lot of money, it’s not just a check. It’s your life savings. Treat it like you would a precious stone or family heirloom.

3. Don’t Significantly Change Your Lifestyle

One trap lottery winners fall into is lifestyle creep or even lifestyle boom. You’re suddenly flush with cash and you realize you can buy the world. But suddenly living like a millionaire before you’ve built wealth is a bad idea.

Instead, maybe upgrade your life a little. You probably don’t have to keep eating ramen. You can now eat a balanced diet and fill your fridge with groceries. But create a budget for your food.

No need to suddenly start eating out every night. No need to spend tons of money on frivolous entertainment. Remember, your goal is to build your wealth from what you’ve been blessed with. Suddenly living like a king won’t get you there.

Instead, stick to your plan to buy an annuity. Make the monthly allowance just enough to live comfortably. And if you need to, hire someone to keep your budget on track and keep you accountable.

You don’t want to rack up debt again after you’ve paid it all off. And you don’t want to create spending habits you really can’t afford considering your annuity payments.

So, remember friend, playing the long game will help you build wealth. Find someone to help you keep track of your money and help you invest wisely.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.