What Your Kid Can Learn from Your March Madness Office Pool Win

Use your bracket windfall as a reminder to talk to your kids about what to do with a surprise stash of cash

Maybe you’re rooting for a Cinderella surprise in your field of 64. Maybe you’re hoping for a perennial juggernaut like the Tar Heels to take it all. Or maybe you don’t care a lick about college hoops, but office competition is quite another matter. Whatever the case, Sunday, March 12, is Selection Sunday, when millions of zealous fans across the nation start filling out brackets for their office pools.

In addition to showing up their cubicle-mates, amateur bracketologists everywhere hope to turn their $5 investment into a pile of loot. The mere thought is enough to make you feel like a kid all over again—which is why the March Madness office pool season is a good time to talk with your kid about smart ways to manage a sudden windfall of cash.

Sure, kids don’t generally partake in office pools (okay, most kids). But they have their own opportunities for a money infusion, from a big birthday to the December holidays to high-school graduation. Without proper guidance and reflection, your kid could end up acting like Johnny Depp on a wine-buying spree. (Same goes for you.)

So, before your kid is holding a wad of cash or a handful of checks, tell your kid where you expect that money to go. Does it belong in the 529 college savings account you already have going for your child? Will the money be divided up and used for more than one purpose, including a bit of discretionary fun? Are there other options worth exploring?

You might ask him to set aside a significant portion of it for long-term savings, especially for college. If he doesn’t yet have a bank account, take a trip to the local branch and set one up. If you are so inclined, having him donate a portion of the money to a meaningful project or charitable organization of his choice is great too.

While it may be her money, she’s still your kid, and you can help her come up with a wise plan for it. It’ll be good practice for when she’s older and gets a cash bonus at work or a fat tax refund—or even wins her own March Madness office pool.