If you’re unaccustomed to having a lot of money and just happen to win $375 million in the upcoming MegaMillions jackpot, consider thinking before you act on your absurdly lucky change of fortune.

An instant infusion of unexpected wealth through the lottery, inheritance or riding the wave of a Silicon Valley startup may not always result in the happily-ever-after most people expect, but it’s usually the start of a long journey of self-control and self-discovery.

Duncan Riach made his first million at 26.

He was married and had a big house in Mountain View, California, a custom Porsche, an engineering job at Nvidia Corp. and “more money than I knew what to do with.” He’d look at the value of his portfolio every day, getting a rush whenever it changed by more than $100,000.

By the time he reached 40, he had lost it all: the wife, the job, the house, the car -- and the millions.

Never Enough

Riach, now 43 and remarried, returned to Nvidia last year after earning a doctorate in clinical psychology, taking a job in artificial intelligence. On his first day back, he stood in the cafe he used to eat in 15 years earlier and thought about all he’d lost, and learned, along the way. He cried.

“If your goal is to be rich, you’ll never be rich enough,” Riach said. “Wealth creates an identity that you have to keep paying to maintain.”

Being financially savvy with wealth has never been more important, said Federal Reserve economist William Emmons. Millennials are living in a world of higher asset prices and saddling themselves with ever-increasing debt loads, according to a study Emmons co-authored for the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability.

“The current generation has the wind in their faces,” Emmons said.

First « 1 2 3 4 » Next