Getting unexpected money (or an unexpected opportunity to earn money) is one of the best things that can happen in your financial life. I’m not talking about things like tax refunds which, while you may choose to treat it as a windfall, aren’t usually unexpected. (You usually have some idea that you’ll get a refund, it’s the amount that may be in question.) I’m talking about money that just falls into your lap. Jeffrey’s recent post about how the Discovery Channel contacted him about using one of his YouTube videos is a good example. He had no idea this was coming, yet it made him $250. Nice.
Another example is receiving an inheritance from a relative you didn’t even know existed, or from a relative that you thought was completely broke. This happened to me a few years ago. My great uncle died after being in a nursing home for several years. Everyone assumed he was broke as he’d sold all of his assets and was receiving Medicaid, yet he somehow managed to ensure that I received $5,000. I had no idea that it was coming so I was shocked to the bone when I got the letter from the probate office.
I’ve also been the beneficiary of some unexpected opportunities to earn money. No, the money didn’t fall into my lap without work, but I’ve had people see my work online or in contests and ask me to do some work for them. Sometimes the opportunity has been great and other times I’ve had to say no, but having the chance to make a little extra is wonderful, especially when I don’t have to pound the pavement looking for work. And sometimes the opportunity leads to more unexpected opportunities, creating a chain of goodness that can go on for months.
Then there are the times when something you thought would never pay out suddenly does. Maybe you’ve been blogging for a while and never received any money from it. Then one day you discover that, lo and behold, someone has been reading and clicking on those ad links and you get a little money. Maybe you’ve entered contest after contest, and finally one day the phone rings letting you know that you’ve won the cash prize. Maybe you made an investment in a startup company a long time ago and forgot all about it. Suddenly a check appears in your mailbox because the company has been sold to a larger entity.
Or maybe you’ve been doing some “freebie” work on the side, hoping to build up your name and reputation so that you can transition to operating your own business. Just when you think you’re the biggest idiot in the world, the phone rings and it’s a potential customer asking what your rates are, or someone you thought wouldn’t pay suddenly asks, “What do I owe you?” They don’t expect a freebie! They expect to pay you! Hurrah!
However it happens, having money and opportunity fall into your lap is a great feeling. For just a few moments, you breathe a little easier. You get to dream about what you’ll do with the money, or where the opportunity might lead. Maybe you use every bit of the money to pay off debt or for necessities instead of splurging, but buying yourself a little breathing room feels as good as a splurge. Maybe you get a little money that puts you further down the path to quitting the hated day job and running your own business. And maybe it’s just a few dollars that lets you enjoy the feeling of eating out one night instead of having to cook.
If you ever receive unexpected money or opportunities, take a few moments to really enjoy the feeling. Have some fun dreaming about where it might lead or what you might do next. Revel in the pride you feel at having won a contest or achieved a level of success in your work that makes others take notice. Simply enjoy the good luck if your windfall was just due to dumb luck. Then make the best decision you can on how to move forward with your unexpected haul. Having money and opportunity fall from the sky doesn’t happen often, so enjoy these rare moments while they last.
(Photo courtesy of Jason Tester)