September 6, 2012
Settlement Payout Warning: planning ahead for the unexpected
By Dean Furukawa, DSW LCSW
Circle of Trust, Mental Health Specialist
The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe- members will be receiving a cash payout settlement award on September 12 as a result of an agreement entered into with the U.S. Government, offering compensation for the misuse of resources. While this is a very positive thing for the community, I would like to issue a warning about unexpected outcomes, even for receiving a good thing. What can be the problem with more money?
When I worked for the Veteran’s Administration, a question was asked when a veteran was going to be given an award stipend for having been injured during military service. The question was, Will there be any problems anticipated in receiving this award? What problems could be caused by getting money you might ask? I once read about lottery winners and what had happened to them after they started receiving payouts. One would think that life would be great with sudden big money coming in, but some winners experienced unexpected things that they were not prepared for. One winner lost a lot of money to quick investments, and found that relatives came pleading for financial help, including seeking money for needed medical operations. How can you say no to that? One winner got divorced and his wife sued him for half of his winnings and even tried to hurt him permanently to get all of it, perish the thought. The current award is not nearly as big an amount as the lottery winners won.
So as your payout comes nearer, please prepare yourself for possible unanticipated results of getting a lot of money, and getting it all at once. Most will likely spend it on needed things like a new car, for home repairs, to pay down some bills, or to go on a family vacation. I hope that the community as a whole will experience a period of good feelings and ease.
Money can be like power: Too much, too soon, can be poisonous. But we can tolerate some things, if taken in small amounts, over time. While this is a metaphor, can you think of situations in which too much of a good thing too fast could be harmful? Here are some such situations:
“I bought a car but it broke down.”
“I got this money for centuries of injustices done to my family and my ancestors, but I spent it in a few days. Where did it go?” Guilt or depression could set in.
Spending the money on gambling, drugs or alcohol. “It was a rush while it was happening but now my money is gone. I feel shameful for wasting it.”
“I spent it on my girlfriend. Now the money is gone and so is she.”
A man spends his money on alcohol, loses self-control, and then does something foolish or dangerous while intoxicated, and he regrets it afterward.
Planning Might Help
Doing some planning might be one of the best things that you can do.
1) Cars: Some sound cars can be found for $2500.00-$5000.00 on craigslist.com and eBay. On Craigslist.com you search under Cars and Trucks by location. Any car purchase is a risk, and taking someone with you who knows about cars or having a car inspected by a mechanic might help to reduce your chance of getting a car that needs more repairs than it is worth. eBay has an auction and some cars are offered as Buy It Now for a fixed price. Be aware that on eBay you would be buying a car sight unseen, plus you may have to go pick it up in another city, adding to the cost. Maybe a friend or relative may be trading up as has a good running car to sell you.
2) A sense of balance might help. Try setting aside a portion of the money for necessary but not-so-fun stuff like paying down bills, and then, also spend a portion for a fun activity like going on a vacation. Instead of taking a lavish vacation in a distant place, treat yourself to a road trip and travel locally.
3) Put the money in the bank and give your checkbook to someone you really trust. The checks are yours and only you can sign them. Ask that person to give you only one check at a time, discussing each purchase and the pros and cons. This helps to control impulsiveness.
4) If you are concerned about how yourself, an adult or elder might be at risk to be taken advantage of, contact Tribal Social Services at 675-2700 and ask Adult Protective Services. A payee might be assigned to help manage dispersing the funds.
5) Eat: Treat your friends and family to a lavish dinner. It tastes good and is nurturing. Take a picture of your meal and look at it and remember how good it tasted. A meal does not cost a lot in comparison to buying a car.
6) Put the money into several envelopes, labeling one for each month. Only allow yourself to spend one envelop a month.
7) If you have a problem with drinking or using, and you know this about yourself, how about investing in a session with a Licensed Addictions Counselor? LACs can be found in the yellow pages of the phone book, and there are local programs that are offered at no cost or with a sliding fee scale.
8) Limit your access to the substance prior to getting the award. Be around others who support your sobriety. Start attending AA again. Think up some free or low cost non-alcoholic activities that satisfy your urges without hurting you financially, socially or healthwise.
9) Investing in yourself has been said to be the best investment that you can make. Take a fun class, buy a membership in an enjoyable activity, go to a concert.
10) Breathe and relax, think the words “Safe, calm,” in your mind over and over. This helps to calm your mind so you can think better and it helps to ease jumpiness.
11) Keeping it safe: If you get suicidal call 1-800-273-TALK for the 24/7 National Crisis Hotline.
So with some planning, you can enjoy this payout and you might avoid some unexpected problems.