If You Win Mega Millions or Powerball, Should You Take the Cash Payout?

iStock.com/mphillips007
iStock.com/mphillips007

Mega Millions has reached a record-breaking jackpot of $1.6 billion, which means your individual chances of taking home the winnings are less than one in 300,000,000. (And, amazingly, Powerball is currently at a not-too-shabby $620 million.) But it doesn't hurt to be prepared: If your ticket matches the winning numbers, here's the first decision you need to make before your life changes.

While $1.6 billion is the number that's being advertised, Mega Millions won't be handing over a check for that amount to the winner. Whoever holds the winning lottery ticket will be given two options: They can collect their winnings as a one-time lump sum that's less than the value of the total jackpot (in this case, it would be $904,900,000), or they can receive the full amount in annual installments stretched out over 29 years. Winners who choose the installment or annuity plan will be given one large payment upfront followed by checks that grow by five percent each year.

Collecting the money and running is tempting, and it's the option that most lottery winners end up choosing. But according to money experts, that's the wrong move—not only because you're getting less money in the long run, but because it leaves you vulnerable to bad luck and poor financial planning. "If you get a huge lump sum, it's easier to make a mistake, whereas if you choose the annuity, then at least if you mess up and blow the first year's worth, you have another chance," financial planner Nick Coleman told CNBC last year.

Even Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban agrees that annuity is the safer bet. In 2016, he told the Dallas Morning News that it helps winners avoid blowing all their winnings at once.

No matter which option winners choose, they can't avoid losing a sizable chunk of their prize to taxes. After state and federal taxes, the lump sum of the latest Mega Millions jackpot will come out to between $607,000,000 and $687,724,000—and that's not including what the winner will have to pay come tax season. But if they opt for the annuity plan they'll end up with $1 to $1.2 billion after 29 years.

Starting in July, All Kohl's Stores Will Accept Amazon Returns

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

The only thing that can dilute the excitement of receiving a package from Amazon is the realization that you ordered the wrong item. Maybe it’s a shirt that doesn’t fit, or a gadget that didn’t meet expectations. Now it has to go back, which means printing out a return slip, boxing it back up, and either making a trip to the post office or waiting for a postal carrier to take it away.

Amazon's return policy is now getting a makeover. Beginning in July, all 1150 Kohl’s locations will be accepting returns for the online giant. The program is called Amazon Returns, and it’s free for the consumer. Items don’t need to be packaged. All you have to do is bring in your unwanted Amazon order and let them box it up. While it would seem like a massive inconvenience for Kohl’s, it’s actually part of a mutually beneficial strategy.

By inviting Amazon customers to walk into their stores, Kohl’s is increasing their foot traffic and setting themselves up for an opportunity to capture some additional revenue from people who might not have stopped in otherwise. It’s a smart approach for a brick-and-mortar retailer, a segment of commerce that has been dramatically impacted by the rise of online shopping and Amazon’s dominance in particular.

For Amazon, it likely means consolidating their shipping costs. Instead of retrieving returns from a number of addresses or drop-off locations, they’re able to bundle shipments from Kohl’s.

There are some caveats. If you bought a product from a third-party Amazon seller, it’s not eligible to be processed at a Kohl’s location. And you’ll still have to log on to your Amazon account to notify them you’ll be returning an item via a Kohl’s store.

Accepting Amazon returns may not be the only change you see in Kohl’s in the coming years. Some locations have partnered with Aldi and Planet Fitness to offer a more diverse array of services.

[h/t Gizmodo]

The Government Will Pay You $1000 to Adopt a Wild Horse

iStock.com/Callipso
iStock.com/Callipso

In an effort to reduce the population of wild horses out West, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has scrapped the $125 fee for adopting a wild mustang and offered an incentive in its place. Anyone who brings home one of these horses will receive $1000 from the government, according to The New York Times.

You won’t have to travel to Wyoming to check out the selection, either. An “online corral” called Wild Horses Online lets you browse the different horses (and burros) available for adoption. You can peruse photos and short bios of the animals, narrowing your search by gender, age, color, height, training, and more. Some of the horses are completely untrained, while others have been “gentled,” meaning that they’ve had some degree of handling.

According to the bureau’s most recent data from March 2018, there are more than 66,000 wild horses in 10 states. Nevada is home to more than 40,000 of these animals, making it the state with the largest wild horse population. Montana has just 155 horses, a handful of which live on the state’s Wild Horse Island in Flathead Lake.

In many areas, rising populations and drought have threatened the animals’ access to food and water. The government has responded by rounding up the animals and bringing them to corrals or pastures that aren’t located on public land. About 50,000 horses were available for adoption as of last month.

In addition to the adoption program, the bureau has also been working with a nonprofit organization that hosts a national competition called Extreme Mustang Makeover, in which horse trainers have about 100 days to tame a wild horse. Some wild horses are also taken in and “gentled” by inmates at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center as part of a rehabilitation program. Similar programs exist in at least five other states as well.

[h/t The New York Times]

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