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

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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.

Here's What Investments in the Early Stock Offerings of Major Companies Would Be Worth Today

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iStock.com/pressureUA

If you’re curious about what might have been when it comes to hypothetical stock market investing, a new infographic from the financial website How Much will get your attention. The site looked at the initial public offering, or IPO, of some of the biggest companies in tech and consumer goods over the past decades and how much that investment is worth today. (IPOs signal when stock is released for purchase by the general public.) Here's what they found.

A chart demonstrates the increase in value of stocks for successful companies
How Much

Putting down $100 for shares of McDonald’s when the company went public in 1965 and forgetting about it would have netted you $569,800 today. Even more profitable than fast-service burgers would have been Coca-Cola, although that stock would have had a century to appreciate.

The biggest score—and surprise—is Nike, which manages to deliver the biggest haul since its IPO launched in 1980. Nike stocks traded at just 18 cents a share then but ballooned to over $85 in February 2019. Microsoft was far more valued at the time of its IPO, trading at $21 a share in 1986, but its value has only gone up—a share is now worth $108.22 in 2019.

The site accounted for stocks that were held through falling and rising stock prices, stock splits, and stocks with dividends taken out and not reinvested.

While it may seem like a bit of financial daydreaming, the chart is an intriguing illustration of the brands that have resonated with the public over the years. When Starbucks went public in 1992, some prospective investors believed that selling coffee for the then-outrageous price of $1 per cup with Italian names that many people couldn’t pronounce was ridiculous. For others, believing in the power of the latte paid off.

[h/t Digg]

Golden Years: Could Living Out Your Life in a Holiday Inn Be Cheaper Than a Nursing Home?

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iStock.com/vgajic

In a wry commentary on the financial and logistical issues that come with advancing age, a number of people have proposed a more economically sound alternative to assisted living. Rather than enter a nursing home, they're suggesting an extended stay at a Holiday Inn hotel—continental breakfast included.

Here's the theory: If you assume an average daily cost of $188 for a nursing home—although according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the national average is actually $253 for a private room—the $59.23 nightly rate for seniors at a Holiday Inn hotel compares pretty favorably. The rate includes housekeeping services, free continental breakfast, complimentary toiletries, exercise equipment, and laundry. Socializing is available via lobbies or bar happy hours.

Variations on this unique strategy date back to at least 2011, with some mentioning a brochure that's been disseminated making a case for hotel retirement. More recently, a Facebook post by Virginia man Terry Robison was picked up by Michigan CBS affiliate WWMT and has renewed interest in the idea. There are obviously some gaps in such logic, specifically the idea that a hotel is equipped to monitor and care for elderly occupants with the same qualifications as staff in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. A maid can change bedding but is highly unlikely to assist with bathroom needs or helping physically compromised patients get around. You're also not going to find a Holiday Inn hotel tackling the potential liabilities involved in dispensing medication.

Then again, for those without such needs, it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. People on a fixed income, such as Social Security, might find good reason to consolidate housing costs in an extended-stay environment.

The idea speaks more to the financial crunch experienced by the elderly. People who are no longer able to live on their own are often faced with funding their "golden years" out of pocket, as health insurance and Medicare or Medicaid only cover such facilities in limited circumstances. Many people wind up dipping into savings, annuities, or reverse mortgages; others find they don't have the means to pay at all. The fact that a hotel chain can provide some of these services at a more reasonable cost than locations dedicated to assisted living is a rather alarming indictment of health care options for an aging population.

[h/t WWMT]

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