When we think of winning the lottery (and we think about it often) we don't really think past the "I've checked my numbers and OMG I've won!" stage. We think about doing some sort of ridiculous victory dance around the house, telling our family and close friends, and then going into the lottery offices to get one of those giant oversized cheques and crack open a bottle of (real) champagne. But after that? Who knows?

We're so used to our stories ending "And they lived happily ever after" that we rarely take the time to think about what happens afterwards. What's the reality of being a lottery winner actually like? What should you be doing? More to the point, what shouldn't you be doing? It's a situation that can be difficult to navigate, particularly as being a lottery winner is such a rare occurrence, there are very few other people to turn to for advice once you have won the lottery. It's not like there's a support group for lottery winners or anything (mental note: start support group for lottery winners).

So in the absence of any real live support, we thought we'd offer you the benefit of our years of experience in reading about lottery winners, talking to lottery winners, and observing how winning huge amounts of money can sometime go very right, and sometimes go very, very wrong.

Guidelines to being a successful lottery winner

1. Get a team together. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can manage your money and your choices on your own. Lottery winner Michael Carroll did and ended up blowing his entire £10 million fortune on hookers and cocaine, going bankrupt in a matter of years. Don't be that guy. Instead, be the kind of lottery winner that takes your finances seriously - and the best way to do that is by hiring an accountant, a lawyer and a financial advisor, and doing so BEFORE you claim your money. Planning is everything - trust us on this.

2. Give yourself a clean slate. It's tempting to want to rush out and buy a French chateau or a 200-foot yacht, but first things first - clear your debt! Having a financial windfall drop into your lap is the perfect way to get rid of all the financial worries that have been plaguing you - so if you have debts like a mortgage, credit card payments, store accounts or loans, pay them all off in one fell swoop and enjoy the feeling that comes with financial freedom! Then you can rush out and buy gold-plated toilet seats and the like.

3. Plan for the future. Again with the planning - but we wouldn't keep harping on about it if it wasn't vitally important. Once you've taken care of your debts, you'll need to plan for your retirement - and this is where your team of professionals can help you, guiding your future financial choices. Even multi-million jackpots don't last forever, and wouldn't it be nice to retire in the lap of luxury, rather than having to wait tables at the age of 65?

Once you've got your team together, taken care of your financial past and planned for your financial future, you'll be all set to go out and buy sports teams and waterfalls and diamond-studded furniture, oh my. But before you do that, remember you'll need to buy your lottery online ticket first! Get your one-way pass to the good life today from - just log on, buy your tickets quickly and easily, and get ready to put your winning lottery plan into action!

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