Photo: Marc Royce
Q: I'm in a situation you don't hear about much these days: I'm 36 years old and debt-free. Thanks to an inheritance, my husband and I own our home and car. I just paid off my student loans, and we don't plan to have children. I'm a librarian earning about $39,000 with full benefits. My husband makes $50,000 a year. Any suggestions for what to do with my income? Should I increase my contribution to my retirement plan? How much should I put into savings? I'd really like to work less, but my employer won't give part-timers benefits. I've also thought about planning a sabbatical or retiring early.
A: How fantastic that you and your husband had the discipline and intelligence to use the money to own your home and car outright and to pay off your student debt, rather than spend it all on vacations, clothes, or flashy jewelry. If everyone were like you, I might be out of a job!
But that said, my gut is telling me you have a touch of what I call the inheritance blues: enough money to fantasize about checking out, but no real game plan. I find it so interesting that all you mention is wanting to retire or take a sabbatical. Nowhere do you express the desire to try something new. What's up with that? You have a lot of life ahead of you—so how do you want to use it? Because you and your husband have such a solid financial situation, you have the luxury of sitting down to really think about what's next. Even if that involves going back to school or taking a pay cut and an entry-level job in a new field, you have the flexibility to make it happen. I hope you can appreciate just how many people would love to be in your shoes.
Here's what I want you to do: Don't worry about boosting your retirement savings right now. Instead, invest any extra money in a high-yield savings account such as the one offered at EmigrantDirect.com. Having that fund in place should help cover the bills while giving you the security to think big. What career or path would be exciting and gratifying for you? Remember, life isn't just about counting the days until you can retire, nor is it about counting your money. It's about making every moment count—spiritually, emotionally, and financially—for yourself and for others. Inheritances can make life easier, but only you can make it priceless.