By Mark Bordelove
Somebody once said to me, "I'm going to buy a few lottery tickets." My thought was, you will spend a few dollars and the odds of winning are so small. You really are spending money to ponder this thought for a few minutes: What if you won the lottery?
Lottery mania has been big lately. With over $2 billion in prizes in the past month, it's been a big story. If you won $800 million and took home $350 million, my thought would be to purchase conservative investments such as U.S. Treasuries, leave a bunch in CDs and cash, and call it a day. I saw that the lady that won was going to set up a foundation to help her granddaughter and others. That's a great use of funds to honor her family and help others.
Let's assume you win a $20 million gross prize. After taxes are paid and you take the upfront cash payout, you would end up with roughly $8 million. A very nice return on investment.
There are so many horror stories out there about the so-called lottery curse, I think there's something to it. People win the lottery and immediately think they are set and that it's party time. I don't know about you, but I feel like it would take a lot of work to blow $8 million. At some point, you come up for air and wonder what the heck is going on.
How hard is it to slow down for 30 seconds and ask yourself, should I contact a professional? How do I contact this professional? Do I have someone in my circle that's a trusted adviser? These are the first questions to ask yourself. It's a jumping off point.
If I was advising someone who literally won the lottery and they had no financial experience, I would let them go buy some nice things and then put them on a budget.
Questions to consider: Are all debts paid off, what are the basic income needs, is college paid for the kids and/or grandkids, depending on your age? It's probably a good idea to consult with a tax specialist/attorney to advise you on gifting for estate tax purposes, if you are so inclined. Also, the attorney should make sure your estate documents are updated with your most current wishes.
Make sure you understand: This is your one shot at a financial windfall and it's the professionals' job to help you work toward securing your financial future.
To try and maintain a capital preservation strategy and address your basic income needs, it's advisable to look at income ideas within the portfolio. The rule of thumb for a conservative allocation is something like a 60-40 split (60% stock, 40% bonds), depending on your risk tolerance. If you won the $8 million prize and think you need to generate $250,000 a year, the math can be backed into to figure what rate of return to try and shoot for. In this example, it's roughly 3%.
A good product to consider as part of the allocation is a non-traded real estate investment trust (REIT) Investing in REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity, and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objective of the program will be attained. A lottery winner should not have an issue with this, hopefully.
You can consider REITs in various sectors such as commercial, apartments, retail and/or industrial real estate. In my experience, yields in the space can range from 4% to 6%. The volatility can come from the fluctuation in the net asset value, NAV. This can price quarterly or monthly. And while past performance does not guarantee future results, what we have seen recently are slight price changes. REITs can be less volatile than the equity markets. You are limited, based on compliance, as to how much of a portfolio can be allocated to this type of investment.
What if, though, you are a successful client that is trying to succeed in another business with limited understanding of the new industry? This is where the dreaded lottery curse most likely comes into play.
What strategies would I consider? I would instruct you to make sure you have your income needs addressed, at a bare minimum (see above discussion regarding REITs).
Put a limit on the resources to commit to the new endeavor. There is nothing wrong with failing in business but there is no reason to go broke in the process, especially if you are already financially successful. Then, don't let your ego get in the way of good decision making, in my opinion.
This is the biggest problem people have - admitting they're wrong. Be willing to admit mistakes and cut your losses. Know that just because you've had success in one industry does not mean you're entitled to success in subsequent ventures. Don't be afraid to go ask other successful people in the industry for help. It's an ego thing.
Often, people don't want to ask for help because if they have been successful, they will assume they can do it again. This is probably the biggest mistake people can make and where they get in the most trouble. I've seen it.
So, if you literally or figuratively win the lottery, great responsibility comes to you and the professionals who guide you about the dollars that have come your way. They have to be very willing to administer some tough love to you to help you navigate these treacherous waters. This might include telling you "no" if you are jeopardizing the financial future confidence you were lucky enough to fall into.
As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.
About the author: Mark Bordelove is president, CEO and co-founder of Bordelove Foster Wealth Management. The options voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Mark Bordelove's securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment adviser, Member FINRA/SIPC. Mark Bordelove and LPL Financial are not affiliated with Jim Cramer or TheStreet. This material was prepared by Mark Bordelove.