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We’ve saved. Now what?

Chris Farrell Jun 30, 2011

Question: I am married and currently work full time as a school administrator. My husband just started working as an RN. We have a 3 year old daughter and currently rent. We have no debt whatsoever and have over 50,000 in savings. What should we do with it? Continuing to put in savings seems unwise. By the way, we have no desire to do anything with this money except maybe travel. In other words, we are not saving for a home. Priscilla, San Diego, CA

Answer: Yours is a different question than we normally get about savings. Usually people are struggling to set money aside. You’re not. Fact is, your savings gives you a lot of control over the kind of life you want to lead.

When it comes to personal finance, choice comes before money, before budgets, before calculations, and before products. Personal finance may end with managing your money well; but it begins with thinking though values and desires. Personal finance is putting money behind the question, “What really matters to me?” Clearly, a home doesn’t. That’s fine. But what does?

And what matters to you may change over time. Your core values will remain the same, but the dreams of a 20-something single differ from the desires of a married 30-something with a 3 year old daughter and a 60-something employee about to say goodbye to her workmates for the last time. The good news with savings is that you have the financial foundation to make lifestyle choices over time, from giving money to charity to starting your own business to paying for your child’s college education.

In the meantime I would travel. The 15th century French poet Charles D’Orleans wisely wrote: “It’s very well to be thrifty, but don’t amass a hoard of regrets.”

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