With the tragedy of parents passing away there, sometimes, comes a financial windfall. Without careful planning and setting priorities, your parents’ legacy could prove to be of little value. For instance, a $50,000 “investment” in a beautiful new car would, in ten years, be nearly worthless. Instead, you can invest that money in a way that will change the future for your family. Here are some ideas:
Pay off consumer debt
If you have a mountain of consumer debt, use this windfall to pay it off and then vow never to allow the mountain to return. By paying off the consumer debt, your monthly cash flow should be vastly improved, along with your lifestyle and your ability to save for the future. Take control of your future!
Down Payment for a home
If you don’t already own a home, $50,000 would be a substantial down payment. In some markets, it would buy a modest home! There may be nothing you could do that would have a better impact on your family than to buy a home with a mortgage you can readily afford with a big down payment.
Many adults, including some in middle-aged adults, are still paying off student loans. A windfall may provide the perfect opportunity to graduate from the burden imposed by your degree!
$50,000 invested wisely today for a newborn would provide four years of in-state tuition at most state universities in eighteen years.
Saving for retirement
If you have been focusing on getting kids through college, paying down the mortgage and now find yourself in your fifties with little retirement savings, this windfall could provide a significant boost to retirement plans. You’ll want to invest it wisely and follow this with regular contributions—you can’t live on $50,000 for long!
Pay off/pay down the mortgage
If you already own a home, paying down the mortgage—even if you can’t pay it off entirely—has real merit. In the long term, paying down the mortgage is just like putting money in the bank—except that the return on investment is much higher and it is even safer! Your expanded home equity is more difficult to spend than cash in the bank, but it may be wise to think of that as a good thing!
Across most of the United States—with Manhattan being a rare exception—it is difficult to imagine life without a car. As noted above, spending all of the $50,000 on a fancy new car would be unwise; spending $5,000 or $10,000 on a reliable used car could enable career and other opportunities for your family that you may not have had otherwise.
Most people will find there is a variety of competing needs and interests associated with a windfall of this sort. It is certainly true that you deserve a nice car and long vacation, but more importantly, you deserve a stable home environment, your kids deserve a real chance at attending college, you deserve a retirement that won’t involve working part time into your 90s. Consider all of the things you could do with the money and be wise!
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.