36 Comments

  1. Ahhh, it sounds like your Nana was a fiery-spirited woman. 🙂 My mom passed away a few years ago and at the time we didn’t think she had life insurance. A year after her death, we discovered an old insurance policy her father bought for her when my mom was a child. I got $1,000 in the insurance money. I wish I could say I did something wise with it, but I used the cash for everyday expenses and a few treat yo’self moments like a new haircut. I did use the money when I visited my sister in South Korea, though, so in that respect it was money well-spent.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hanging onto your inheritance. It’s YOUR money. I would suggest thinking about how your Nana wants you to spend it. Maybe on the upcoming new addition to the family? I’m sure she’d be tickled pink to know the inheritance funded her great-grandchild’s education. 🙂

    P.S. I’d spend the $5,000 on a cruise. Homegirl needs a vacation.

    • Oh my gosh, yes! That was one of our last phone calls. “When will I hear little feet running around when I call you?” She would be on board with spending on Half Penny 100%. I like the idea of adding to a college fund!

      I don’t think you did anything un-wise with your money. I bet those little moments brought some joy. And traveling to see family is always a good use of time and money, I think!

  2. How touching that she was thinking about giving away that hard-earned money to her family all those years. My grandparents left me a small gift that pained me in light of their meager lifestyle and refusal to spend on themselves (about which I wrote once on the blog). I deposited the money and let it intermingle with everything else; I’m happy not to see it separated and be reminded of the sad parts of that story. I’m of the opinion that we don’t need to feel obligated to do anything specific or special with gifts like these. It’s just money. My memories of time with them are far more valuable.

    • 100%, Matt! Your comments are always spot on. You should write my blog 😉 The account doesn’t make me sad right now, but if it ever does, I think I’ll do exactly what you did. Or go to Vegas 😉

  3. I’ve never received an inheritance, so I don’t know how I’d handle it. But I can definitely understand tying it up in grief. However, the nerd in me really wants to tell you to at least move it somewhere that will protect it from inflation.

    • I know! The money nerd in me feels the same way! I switched it over to a 1% (what a whopper!) savings account. I’ll probably end up putting it in Vanguard. Although that was never her thing. Money either went in the empty Pringles can or the savings account at the bank.

  4. Whenever I hear people talking about wanting an inheritance, or counting on one, it really bothers me. I don’t think many people realize how much of a burden an inheritance can be. Don’t take that the wrong way-I am not at all ungrateful that my mom was able to leave me what she did. But I would have much rather her spent that money on herself. Those accounts are a bittersweet reminder of how much she loved me and how unfair it was that she didn’t get to do more.

    For what it is worth, I’m with Mrs. Picky Pincher. Spend it on Half Penny (when you are ready.) It sounds like family was super important to your Nana and I bet she would love knowing she was able to help her great-grandchild.

    • Yes. Everything you said is so important, Jax. And I know I’m really privileged to have inherited anything. And I would give every single cent I have and then some to have just one more day with her instead. I’m positive you feel the same way about your mom 🙂

  5. I just read The Life of Pi and am that much more paranoid about water so I’d go with about 500 massages before I’d step on a cruise 😉

    What a woman, your Nana.

    I have friends who are also holding on to inheritance money because of what it means to them. I’m more like Matt, if I had ever inherited any money, I would want to be able to separate that money out because it would make me sad. I have only my memories of, and a fan from my long gone beloved grandma and I wish I had a way to pass along her stories to keep her memory alive longer.

    • I love that book, and I’m with you on the cruises. I think I’ll pass on that one!

      I know you pass on the stories to Jugger Baby! That’s my plan, too. It probably won’t mean much to Half Penny, but she’s going to hear a lot about her nana.

  6. It seems like your Nana wanted you to be happy more than anything else, so as long as having the money or spending it makes you smile, she’ll be smiling too. You really can’t go wrong.
    Do you think you’re holding on to it as a little piece of your Nana and if you mingled it with your general finances you’d dilute your intention and her memory? That’s understandable, though if you used it to pay down your own mortgage, you’d be able to think of your own home as a gift from your Nana of the comfort and security that she continues to offer.

    • Hmmm. I’m not sure it’s that, really, though maybe it is! Enough time has passed now, and having started this blog in her honor really helps. I suppose it’ll end up in Vanguard. Or maybe a 529! As much as she loved her Penny slots, my grandma did save what little bit she could.

  7. When I received my inheritance from my mother’s passing (my father predeceased her), I can’t say that I did anything particular with it, at least not that I remember. I’m with Matt that money is money and memories are more important. If I were to spend $5,000 today, it would probably be on sprucing up my home with new rugs or new paint. As for your inheritance, I like Mrs. PP’s idea of a college fund for Half Penny.

  8. You’re doing the right thing by not touching it. How awful would you feel if you had spent it all without really thinking about it?

    When my maternal grandparents passed away (I was in college), the 3 “kids” divided all the cash in the safe so everyone got a cut — mine was $900 and went towards rent/textbooks/food. The “kids” and spouses equally divided the rest. My parents generously used part of theirs to pay off my student loans a couple years later. They knew that’s what my grandparents would have wanted.

    My paternal grandparents passed away 10 years later but they had gotten all the grandkids savings bonds, with the intent that they could be used for college but they ended up living much longer than they expected. Each bond was worth $6-7k and I let them sit for years. In 2015 I decided that the best way to honor their memory would be using that money to pay off my mortgage, which is exactly what I did. It’s a choice they’d be pleased with.

    Let that money sit for as long as you need. At some point you’ll find the perfect use for it. 🙂

    • Kate, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your stories. What wonderful grandparents you had! And I do think I’ll figure out what to do with the money when the time is right.

  9. We got $5k last year from Mr. T’s grandma and it was clear she wanted it put toward our mortgage… I was glad she made the choice for us because it is so difficult trying to figure out how to honor someone through that money! You don’t need to do anything until something feels right. I think you will eventually be able to use that money to bring yourself closure in your own way. The opportunity will present itself when the time is right.

    • That’s so awesome of Mr. T’s grandma! Grandparents are just the best. It’s amazing how thoughtful they are…even when they’re not around anymore to be properly thanked.

  10. I got money (well, stock) from my maternal grandmother before she died, so it got less tied up with the grief of her passing. And in fairness, she wasted away from Alzheimers over several years, so we had mostly finished grieving by the time she passed. My paternal grandmother left everything to my dad and aunt, and what I have is letters and a cookbook, and the middle name I gave my child.. Actually a pretty good, guilt free inheritance from my Nana.

    My mom left a lot, and I still haven’t figured out how to incorporate all of the stuff she passed down into my life. I’ve come to a point where I’ll have to figure it out.

    But I’ll tell you this. Don’t let guilt be part of the legacy, no matter what you do with the money. If you blow it on recreating the great Vegas road trip, have a great time. If you go pick up a Louis Vuitton purse, use it in love. If it goes to pay for a 529 plan, that’s great too. But the good memories should outweigh the result, no matter what

    • Emily, I love the guilt-free inheritance that you got from her. I think we are pretty certain we will give Half Penny my nana’s middle name. It works with an altered spelling for boys or girls. We haven’t told my family yet, but I think my mom will be pleased! It seems like a lovely tribute.

  11. Depending on the amount I would:

    – max out ROTH IRA for that year, take a vacation for up to $1,5k (T. and I can stretch this amount to one week vacation in Dominican Republic very easily) and put the rest into Vanguard (VTSAX)

    – If I got a smaller amount, I would just max my ROTH IRA. I am a bit boring like that! 😉

    • That doesn’t sound boring, Mariana. That sounds brilliant! It’ll probably end up in Vanguard once I get done being sentimental.

  12. I’ve never received an inheritance, but if I did I’d probably just put it towards retirement, as there isn’t much material that I want right now. Once we own a home, I might put it towards a big renovation so that I would have something tangible to remember the person by.

    I completely understand the sentimentality of money. Years ago, my dad helped me open up a small GIC, which pays very little in interest. He died eight years ago, and I haven’t ever had the heart to cash in the GIC, even though I’m paying more in interest on my student loans than the GIC is earning. Money isn’t always rational!

    • I’m so glad you can relate. I know money *should* be rational, but you’re right. Sometimes, it just isn’t. And I’m starting to realize that’s OK, too.

  13. I echo what others said about a college fund. If you think that’s something your grandmother would have wanted, and would have made her happy, what a great way to honor her memory. You can then tell your child about it as they grow up – “your great grandma loved you before you were born, and she left this money to help you go to college.” That way, you can share her stories and memories, so she can live on in the next generation.

    My youngest son was sadly born just 10 days after my beloved grandmother died. My older boys had gotten to spend years with her, and were devastated when she passed away. They still are now, two years later. But I try to make sure to keep her memory alive with them, so they’ll be able to help tell their little brother about their wonderful great-grandma.

  14. That’s awesome to get an inheritance from your nana, she sounds like a real card! I’d put it into a 529 account and let it grow. You can use it for half-penny’s college or if not, pay a 10% penalty and use it for anything else. That way it would still be going toward family and you could even remind half penny about your nana even when she gets closer to college years. Looking at some online calculators, $5k in a 529 could get close to $20k in 18 yrs time. That’s a little better than 1%.

    Good luck on your choice. Making decisions with family stuff that has memories associated with it is never easy, even when it’s been a while and is “just money”.

  15. Your reverence of this gift speaks volumes of how much you loved and respected your Nana. I would advise that you continue to take your time in considering different options. It’s in a good place for now, collecting a little bit of interest. I have a feeling that when you find the right way to use it, there won’t be any questions left in your mind.

    Mr. Smith’s mother died when he was five years old. He had a very modest inheritance (that was poorly managed by Aunts and Uncle IMHO) that he used towards the down payment on our first home – the rental property. The fact that his inheritance helped pay for that house is one of the reasons why I don’t see us ever giving up on it.

    If we received $5,000 right now? Either pay down the debt consolidation loan and/or invest it in some of the repairs/renovation necessary for the rental property.

    • Do you regret being attached to the house? It sounds like a really thoughtful and purposeful use of the money, Harmony.

      • No, I don’t regret it. I WILL feel better about the investment once we are able to refinance the mortgage, and even better when we finish the remodeling/repairs so we can rent it out for more money. Right now we’re paying more on the monthly mortgage payment than is coming in with rent – which feels a little crazy when we still have debt.

        I try to focus on it as a long-term investment that will bring us income once we reach semi-retirement. And, I’m pretty sentimental, so it’s nice to know we can go back anytime to visit our first home together.

  16. Catherine

    Though I love the idea of a college fund for baby, there’s no doubt in my mind you guys will contribute on her behalf already. Though I’m normally very cautious, and shall we say uncool with my money, if it was my money I would likely spend it on something that involved making memories with my own family….a trip or something. That way you’re making memories that you’ll have forever and also think about grandma.

    • That’s a great idea, Catherine. And yes, I’m already researching 529s and local kiddo savings accounts to start Half Penny young!

  17. Steve from Arkansas

    I inherited a large sum from my dad two years ago when he died. Changed very little in my life, it’s invested along with my savings. I already was financially independent and planning to retire early, slightly early, at sixty, which I did. The fact is it is kind of ironic, what he practiced and taught me about money but guaranteed me a large insurance and also that I would not need it.

  18. I’ve never inherited any money, but my parents did from my maternal grandparents, and they used it to help pay for a portion of my brother and I’s college education. I always felt that they would be proud to have been a part of our success even though they couldn’t be here to see it, and it makes it seem like they’re still a huge part of our lives because of the impact that made. Putting it into a 529 and saving it for Half-Penny may be a good way to connect your grandmother to her life. Just a suggestion 🙂

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