Annuity Vs. Lump Sum

Lottery winners are often paid with annuities.

Lottery winners are often paid with annuities.

Payouts from specific investments, contests or compensation contracts can be structured as either annuities or lump-sum payments. Annuities spread payouts over a long term, whereas lump-sum payments provide the full payout amount to the recipient at once. Both annuities and lump-sum payments feature unique advantages and disadvantages, and each is best suited to different investors and economic environments.


Annuities are structured to pay out regular amounts to annuity-holders, while accumulating interest on the outstanding balance throughout the life of the contract. Investors take advantage of annuities to keep their money safe over time while earning a sizable enough return to beat inflation. Investors can purchase an annuity at face value today, then receive the structured payouts over the life of the contract, coming out ahead in the end. Annuities can also be used as a form of payment; lottery-winners and professional athletes are often paid with annuities, for example.

Lump Sum Pros and Cons

A lump sum payout, as the name implies, pays the entire value of the contract at once. Common examples of lump-sum payments include holiday bonus pay and debt settlements. Lump sum payouts allow people to receive the entire amount of their payout at once, allowing them to spend, save or invest the full amount at will. The ability to re-invest a lump sum payout can provide investors an opportunity to maximize the profits generated by the payout. It is possible, however, to spend a lump-sum payout much more quickly than an annuity, which can cause hardship in the future.

Pros and Cons of Annuities

Annuities can protect people who do not manage money wisely. Lottery winners are an ideal example of the power of annuities; lottery winners have gone from multi-millionaires to flat broke in a short few years due to a lack of financial management experience. An annuity payout can ensure that recipients spread the money over a long term while earning a return on the balance.

Time Value of Money

Savvy investors decide between annuities and lump sum payments by analyzing the effects of the time value of money. The time value of money theory explains that a set amount of money today is not necessarily equal in value to that same amount in the future, due to economic factors such as inflation and currency exchange rates. Follow the link at the end of this article to find an online calculator that can help you to get an idea of the true value of your annuity over time compared to a lump-sum option.


About the Author

David Ingram has written for multiple publications since 2009, including "The Houston Chronicle" and online at As a small-business owner, Ingram regularly confronts modern issues in management, marketing, finance and business law. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts in management from Walsh University.

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