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5 ways to spend a windfall

Here's a fun exercise. Say you got an unexpected $50,000 inheritance. Responsible person that you are, you put the first $40,000 toward savings, retiring debts you have, and any usual charitable commitments. But $10,000 could be fun money.

What would you do with it? To make this game even more interesting, here's a ground rule: looking back on your life, you'd remember, fondly, how the money was spent. So how would you spend it?

I haven't gotten an unexpected inheritance lately, but I spent some time thinking about this question as I was writing "All the Money in the World," and came up with a few memorable $10,000 ideas:

1. Fly to Mongolia ($2,000), then do the 11-day REI "Mongolia Multisport" trip, featuring camel trekking and sleeping in desert camps ($4,000, plus $900 single supplement). I'd tack on a few days of R&R and pricey souvenir shopping at the end.

2. Commission a major choral work from an up-and-coming composer ($2,500), hire singers to perform it ($200 x 20 is $4,000), book a venue ($2,500) and spend another $1,000 promoting the premiere.

3. Get 80 one-hour massages ($100 per massage plus a $25 tip), spread over two years or so.

4. Take an off-season month-long writing retreat in a grand estate by the ocean ($7,500 for rent, $2,500 for a private chef a few times per week).

5. Start an award for new poetry ($1,000 per year for five years), and create and promote a website to feature the artists I discover (another $5,000 for a great one).

What's the point of all this? Primarily, you learn more about yourself and what matters to you. Looking at my list, I see that I'd really like to use my money to help inspire new creative works. That has me rethinking how I spend and give smaller amounts of money. But it's also a good exercise from a practical perspective. Because while $10,000 is a chunk of change, it's certainly possible to set as a savings goal. Perhaps you already have it in disposable income, but haven't thought about what it could do beyond the usual bills and amusements. Looking long term is fun because we're probably all better off having more experiences to look back on life and remember, rather than fewer.

What memories would you make with $10,000?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user 401K

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