Way back when, a windfall was nothing more than a pile of sticks. The word actually comes from an 18th-century law that allowed American colonists to collect only the wood blown to the ground by the wind. Anything cut down was the property of the English monarchy. When strong winds felled trees, the settlers had an opportunity to build for the future.

Today, a financial windfall can provide similar opportunities to grow a financial support structure that can last for years to come. Sudden wealth can come from a variety of places: a marriage or divorce, a sale of a business, an insurance settlement, an inheritance, etc.

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