If you’ve struggled for years to manage your finances, a windfall can put you on a new track. Without proper financial management planning, you’ll end up back in the same rut. Don’t spend your new money as quickly as you get it; now’s the time to get smart. Use these money management tips to find your way to a better financial future.

Pay Down Debt

Eliminating your credit card debt isn’t as fun as booking a first-class vacation in Paris, but it is the smarter thing to do. If you want to use your good luck to transform your life, you should start by making a list of all of your debts. Include your mortgage, student loans, and charge cards and note their interest rates. Do you still feel like an elaborate vacation, or are you ready to tackle your negative net worth? You can pay off the loans with the highest interest rate or the smallest balance first. Either way, you’ll get more long-term enjoyment from reduced debt than a short vacation.

Invest in Your Retirement

Do you know the one bad thing about free money? The IRS might want a cut of it. Small inheritances are usually immune to taxes, but gifts, lottery winnings, or employment bonuses are fair game. You can avoid some of the tax bills and plan for retirement at the same time. An RRSP through your employer or through any brokerage firm lets you invest your newfound money without paying taxes on it, provided you have contribution room.

Treat Yourself

No matter how great your self-discipline, you’ll want to spend a portion of your windfall on a fun purchase. Budgeting 10% of the amount you received for a vacation, a fancy meal, or a new pair of shoes will motivate you to spend the remaining 90% wisely.

Visit an Accountant or Personal Financial Planner

If you’re ready to get smart about money, don’t go it alone. Personal financial planners or accountants can help you create a budget that you’ll stick to, suggest the best retirement investments, and work out a plan to get you out of debt.

Consider Credit Card Rewards

This financial move is an advanced one. Don’t even think about opening a new credit card if you will be tempted to use it for unnecessary purchases. You want to use your financial windfall to make your life easier, not harder. If you’re responsible with credit cards, a significant influx of cash is the perfect opportunity to benefit from sign-up rewards. Many cards will offer you free flights, hotel stays, or a big chunk of money back if you spend a certain amount of money in the first three months of owning the card. Usually, you’ll need to put out around $3,000. Since you’ve got extra money in the bank, this won’t be a problem. Use your new card to pay the utility bills for the next year, purchase a big gift certificate to your favorite supermarket, or make that major purchase you’ve been delaying. Be careful, or you might get addicted to earning free bonuses from credit card companies.

However you choose to spend your newfound wealth, make sure you have a plan. Don’t fritter it away on small purchases or luxury items. Instead, ask yourself where you want your bank account to be in a year and let your financial windfall get you to your destination.