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Sometimes, money (and lots of it) really does fall into your lap – whether via an inheritance, a legal settlement, a bonus at work, or some other form of good fortune.
You might use such a windfall to pay down debt, beef up your emergency fund, or grow your nest egg – all smart choices. Or consider these six ideas for spending $10,000, from valuable home improvements to tax-smart charitable giving, that can be equally rewarding. Take a look.
By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance
| January 2015
Investing $10,000 in a mutual fund (or amassing that much in a fund you already own) often qualifies you for a lower-cost share class. The savings mount up over an investing lifetime.
Consider a $10,000 investment in Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX), which tracks Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. The fund’s Investor share class, which requires a $3,000 minimum initial investment, charges annual fees of 0.17% of assets. But 500 Index’s Admiral (VFIAX) share class, which has a $10,000 minimum, charges just 0.05%.
Over 40 years, if the stock market matches its long-term historical return of 10% before expenses, your 10 grand would grow to $417,015 in the Admiral shares but only $397,450 in the Investor shares.
Samsung’s humongo 4k UHD HU8550 series smart TV produces dazzling images with four times the resolution of HDTV. The 75-inch model lists for $7,000.
You’ll need wall-rattling audio, too. The Bose Cinemate 520 home theater system ($1,500) fills the space with multispeaker, 5.1 surround sound. It has four HDMI inputs for a cable box, Blu-ray player, game console and another device.
Such a high-end setup deserves an eye-catching stand. The BDI Signal 8323 ($1,500) is a low-rise cabinet that can support screens as large as 85 inches.
Dental veneers, which cap the front of your teeth to correct staining and chipping and mask crooked teeth, can brighten your grin and make you look years younger. The average price of a single resin laminate veneer is $802, and a porcelain laminate runs an average of $1,001, according to a survey by the American Dental Association and the Health Policy Institute.
Your dental insurance policy may not cover veneers because they’re usually considered a cosmetic procedure. Still, with $10,000 you should be able to swing the cost of veneers for the teeth you see when you smile.
With $10,000 to spare, you can up the ante. For $9,200 per person in a standard twin cabin, Polar Cruises recently offered a 20-day cruise (from late October through mid November 2015) on the ship Ushuaia through the islands of the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. The cruise includes onboard lectures and a few stops.
Smithsonian Journeys offers a variety of land-based tours worldwide. The 14-day African Safari includes airfare, lodging, and nature and wildlife tours in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Two people sharing a room and departing from one of several eastern U.S. cities in mid September could recently travel for $9,254 per person.
With $10,000, you can refresh most of the surfaces in a 150-square-foot kitchen (excluding the cost of any demolition). Cabinets are the dominant feature of most kitchens. If yours have good bones, then paint or refinish them for a new look or feel. Spring for granite or quartz countertops and a tile backsplash.
Vinyl flooring provides a lot of bang for the buck. It can mimic almost any material, and it’s easy on the feet and easy to maintain. Install an under-mounted stainless steel sink with two bowls, as well as a new faucet and garbage disposer. Paint the ceiling and add a new overhead ceiling fixture. Hang a pendant light over the kitchen sink as a grace note. (For a helpful remodeling project estimator, see www.homewyse.com.)
With these funds, administered by mutual funds, brokerage firms and community foundations, you can claim a tax deduction for the year in which you make the contribution but wait till later to decide how you would like to distribute the money. The funds accept donations of stocks, bonds, funds or other assets in addition to cash. They will vet the organizations you’re considering to be sure they are eligible public charities and provide other guidance.
Once you choose the recipient, the fund handles the paperwork. T. Rowe Price requires $10,000 to start a donor-advised fund, but at Fidelity and Schwab you’ll need only $5,000. Some community foundations let you in the door for as little as $1,000 (see www.cof.org/locator).
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