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You just inherited $1,000,000 from an aunt you didn’t even know existed. What’s the first thing you buy (or otherwise use the money for)?

Who doesn’t dream of a windfall of money! But money isn’t free, so first I’d pay the tax which would leave me with no more than half that amount, still a great deal of money.

There are many places I’d like to visit, and as with Rome, I’d like to stay there for a while, say one or two months, and get to know it and visit other places in day or overnight trips. I’d even like to enroll in an Italian language course or two, which would take about a month, but mornings only. I think spring would be a good time to go, perhaps after the excitement of Easter in the city has passed, leaving before the real heat sets in. Or maybe I could be like an Italian in summer and go to one of the lakes in the northern part of the country for cooler weather before coming home.

The same applies to Spain. It’s a big country, and seeing only one city wouldn’t do. I already have the basics in Spanish, and a month or so there, staying in four different areas for a week, would give me a good overview of the country: Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona, and Málaga (or Valencia). I’d stay in self-catering accommodation for each week, have a car, and go out in spokes around the city, seeing as much as possible. A few naps may also be required. So, part of the money would go into a personal travel fund, say $100,000.

As we all do, I get endless calls for money from worthy organizations, but we’re at a time in our lives, retirement age, where tithing means cutting spending for charity. I can’t say exactly where I would donate the money, but Ronald McDonald and Fisher houses would be first choices. I’d have to do research on other organizations to see which spends the money the best. $100,000 for that.

I’d give money to my children. I remember when my husband and I were young — there was never enough money. My husband was the main bread-winner since I was a stay-at-home mom to our 4 closely spaced children, so he was still not earning to his full potential. It seems you get the big bucks after the need has passed. I can only assume that life is meant to work that way! I don’t know if I’d give the money in a lump sum, though some would be nice that way; but I think I’d save it so that we could help them with specific things, and enjoy their company more often by paying air fares to have them visit more, go again with us to Scotland as they did when they were children, and perhaps take a family Disney Cruise with all the kids and grandkids. (That alone would cost $10,000-$20,000 including air fares to Florida.) That’s the only way my husband would go on a cruise — to be with his grandchildren. ($200,000 for that.)

I might use some of the money to upgrade areas of our house, maybe get that screened in porch I wrote about in an earlier post, but try to spend the money so that it increases the value of our home rather than just buying cute stuff. We have all we need, but some of it is getting old. I must admit, just yesterday I mentioned what a nice thing it would be to have a lap pool in our large yard — good for our exercising, and a great play area for the kids. ($50,000 for that.)

On a personal whim, I’d go on a yoga retreat. Normally, I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on myself. Daughter #3 would be welcome to come with me.

So the breakdown is charity, travel, and money for family and family activities, and a bit for the home.

I’m happy. That will do nicely. So where’s the aunt that’s providing this?