UNITED STATES—Have you ever had that situation arise where you were expecting a large sum of money? Did your mind race with a ton of ideas that you had virtually no clue as to what you were planning to do with such a large sum? Well join the club, because that situation is about to arise for me.

Money is a great thing, but at the same time money can be a devilish thing if one is not careful with how they use or spend it. The first thing that comes to mind when coming across a lump sum of money is all those WANTS that have alluded you for quite some time. That can be quite problematic because one has to be able to separate a WANT from a NEED. The NEEDS must come front and center first and then you get the opportunity to decide when you want to treat yourself. So what precisely does this mean?

Make a list, yes, it sucks sometimes to do this, but it is something that has to be done. I live by the motto, “I’d rather be broke and have all my bills be paid, than to have loads of money and tons of bills.” Not many people think that way, but if you start to, it can alleviate plenty of stress that continues to haunt the psyche. Pay off as much as you possibly can regarding that credit card debt; the higher APR credit cards should be a first priority.

After those have been taken care of, hit those department store cards which have some of the highest rates in the world. It’s easier to eliminate those and focus all your attention on those credit cards that can be accepted everyone, versus a retail department card that can only be used at that one place. After you’ve compiled a list of all your DEBT and what you plan to pay or attempt to pay off, then focus on those other needs that you may have forgotten about.

Perhaps, you need to do some hefty grocery shopping, purchase cleaning supplies, purchase amenities for the home, clothing, yard supplies, fixing your car, the list can go on and on. However, make a budget on what you’re willing to spend. You might make a list, and then be forced to decrease the number of items on that list to make it sufficient to fit your needs and the budget that you want to maintain to leave yourself some extra funds for a rainy day.

That is something that immediately popped into my mind. Things have been stressful the past few months with income dwindling down. To prevent the problem, I plan to take more than three-quarters of the money I receive and to place it into my savings account to cover my monthly expenses for at least 6 months. Yes, this is something all Americans have been warned about, but we don’t always do it. You never know when the unexpected might occur, so having that financial cushion can ease a lot of stress and prevent those sleepless nights that became quite problematic to say the least.

Well, I plan to plan ahead. Some people might think what I’m doing is crazy or slightly stupid, but I’m not putting myself into a situation again where I’m so stressed about money the sleepless nights keep happening, my eating habits jump around and I can’t fathom what I can or cannot do to get out of a specific situation. It’s never fun to have to borrow money from someone; it’s even worse, when you have no idea how or when you’ll be able to pay that person back.

Money does indeed come or go, but those who live by the ‘live for the moment’ mentality will learn a harsh truth; drowning in debt is no fun feeling. It’s a wonderful feeling to pay off debt, and still have a load of money in the bank account to do whatever you want to do when you want to do it.