I will receive $25,000 in the next couple weeks from the sale of my mom's house. She died suddenly of a brain aneurysm last spring, at age 58. I am asking for advice on how to invest this small windfall. (I also received another $10,000 from her life insurance last year and used that to pay down a personal bank loan of $6k and credit card debt.)
Here are my stats: I'm 36 and went back to college in 2010 to finish my first degree (I had worked in insurance and kept hitting income/advancement ceilings due to not having a degree.) As of May, I will graduate with $45,000 of loans. I have $7,000 in credit card debt and own a house with a $130,000 left on the mortgage. I do have $10,000 in a 401k at a previous employer and I also inherited her 2009 car, so I have no car payment.
I realize paying down debt is the fastest return on the money, but I feel like I don't want to just sink this money entirely into student loans, which have a low interest rate. My plan is to pay off the credit card debt and create a small emergency fund. This will leave around $15,000. Would it work to place some of it in longer term investments or just completely add the money to my debt?
To add complication to the situation. I am studying graphic design and the firms I am in touch with all say they have increased hiring and the future looks good for this career. However, there is the option that I may want to free-lance or split off on my own in two to four years and could use a cushion to help as a startup. Thank you for any advice or information. Jamie, Eden Prairie, MN