So often, financial surprises come in a negative form. When you get a positive financial surprise (otherwise known as a windfall) you might be so in awe that you don't know what to do with it. Especially if your windfall is large, it is very important that you handle this money responsibly and use it to benefit your future -- rather that fritter it away on meaningless luxuries. Follow these five tips to handle a financial windfall the smart way:

Put it in an online account.

Before you make any big decisions about how you'll spend your windfall money, put it into an online savings account. This ensures the money is safe, and it also makes it a little harder to access. You can't just spend it in an instant like you could if it were in your everyday checking account. This ensures you really take the time to think and wait before making any big purchases.

Don't tell too many people.

A strange thing happens when you come into money. Suddenly, friends and family members you have not heard from in years start coming out of the woodwork and expecting you to help them fight their financial battles. It's hard to tell a friend you can't help them avoid bankruptcy or buy a new car, so just avoid telling most people about your windfall in the first place. If you do tell close friends and family members, kindly ask them not to spread the word.

Pay off debts.

One of the smartest things you can do with your windfall money is pay off your debts. By paying them off early, you will save on interest in the future. Plus, since you'll no longer need to make monthly payments, you will free up more money in your monthly paychecks, making your spending a bit more flexible. If your windfall money is not enough to pay off all of your debts, start by paying off the debts with the highest interest rate first.

Talk to an investment advisor.

Investing your windfall money will allow it to grow so you have more to enjoy in the future. But making decisions as to how to invest a large sum of money can be daunting. Talk to a financial advisor or wealth management professional in your area. They can guide you towards some wise investments and help you determine how much money to put where.