If You Win Mega Millions or Powerball, Should You Take the Cash Payout?

iStock.com/mphillips007
iStock.com/mphillips007

Mega Millions has reached a record-breaking jackpot of $1.6 billion, which means your individual chances of taking home the winnings are less than one in 300,000,000. (And, amazingly, Powerball is currently at a not-too-shabby $620 million.) But it doesn't hurt to be prepared: If your ticket matches the winning numbers, here's the first decision you need to make before your life changes.

While $1.6 billion is the number that's being advertised, Mega Millions won't be handing over a check for that amount to the winner. Whoever holds the winning lottery ticket will be given two options: They can collect their winnings as a one-time lump sum that's less than the value of the total jackpot (in this case, it would be $904,900,000), or they can receive the full amount in annual installments stretched out over 29 years. Winners who choose the installment or annuity plan will be given one large payment upfront followed by checks that grow by five percent each year.

Collecting the money and running is tempting, and it's the option that most lottery winners end up choosing. But according to money experts, that's the wrong move—not only because you're getting less money in the long run, but because it leaves you vulnerable to bad luck and poor financial planning. "If you get a huge lump sum, it's easier to make a mistake, whereas if you choose the annuity, then at least if you mess up and blow the first year's worth, you have another chance," financial planner Nick Coleman told CNBC last year.

Even Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban agrees that annuity is the safer bet. In 2016, he told the Dallas Morning News that it helps winners avoid blowing all their winnings at once.

No matter which option winners choose, they can't avoid losing a sizable chunk of their prize to taxes. After state and federal taxes, the lump sum of the latest Mega Millions jackpot will come out to between $607,000,000 and $687,724,000—and that's not including what the winner will have to pay come tax season. But if they opt for the annuity plan they'll end up with $1 to $1.2 billion after 29 years.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Here's How Much Money You Need to Earn in Each State to Afford a Home

The keys to your own kingdom.
The keys to your own kingdom.
PhotoMIX Company, Pexels

By this point, it’s well-known that American Millennials are much slower to buy homes than Baby Boomers were at their ages. While certain cultural changes have contributed to this trend—people are waiting longer to get married and have children, for example—the most common reasons to continue renting ad infinitum are financial. In other words, it’s especially hard to afford a house these days. That said, residents of some states have it easier than others.

According to a study by The Cost Guys, West Virginians only need to make $26,393 a year to become homeowners—the lowest of any U.S. state. In general, Appalachia, the Midwest, and the South are good places to live if you have your heart set on pocketing keys to your own tiny kingdom; in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, you can feasibly afford a home on an annual salary below $40,000.

The West is expensive.The Cost Guys

If you live in Hawaii, on the other hand, you might end up renting for the long run; that is, unless you earn $152,676 per year (or more). Parts of the continental U.S. put up similarly high stats: Californians need to earn at least $136,600 to set up shop, and inhabitants of Colorado, Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. all need more than $100,000.

To come up with these figures, The Cost Guys worked off the widespread assumption that about 30 percent of your annual earnings will go toward your home—which includes mortgage, insurance, property tax, and down payment—and used median real estate values from Zillow to calculate how much that percentage would amount to.

If you’re feeling discouraged by the high price tags on homeownership, it’s worth noting that there’s plenty of room for variation. Maybe you find a home listed for much less than your state’s median value, or maybe you can negotiate a deal for a much smaller down payment than 10 percent (which is what The Cost Guys used for their analysis). There’s also the possibility that you’re able to budget a little more than 30 percent of your income toward housing costs.

You can explore more detailed info and data here.