Where should you put your extra cash? Here are some ideas

A pile of U.S. currency
How you figure out what to do with your money is mostly the same whether you’re 28 or 82. Start with your goal and how long you have until you need the money.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Dear Liz: At 82, I am selling my house and moving to a senior community. For the first time in my life, I will have a substantial amount of cash. Given my age and the fact that certificates of deposit and savings accounts are currently paying more than 5% interest, does it pay for me to start investing in other ways?

Answer: How you figure out what to do with your money is mostly the same whether you’re 28 or 82.

You start with your goal and your time horizon, or how long you have until you need the money.

For example, you may have to put aside some of the home sale proceeds to pay capital gains taxes if your home has appreciated more than the $250,000 that’s normally exempted from tax. Since the tax bill will be due within months of the sale, you shouldn’t take unnecessary risks with this cash. A high-yield savings account would be a good solution for any money you need to keep safe and liquid.


You also may want to earmark some money for long-term care. This goal is much more ambiguous, because it’s impossible to predict how much you’ll need or when. You may want to consult an elder law attorney, who can discuss your options.

An adjustable-rate, reverse mortgage can get complicated for surviving spouses and children. If you don’t have the cash to pay off the loan, you have options.

July 9, 2023

Once you settle on a figure, you’ll want that money to be somewhere safe and readily accessible. Certificates of deposit that mature at different times could be an option, as could the high-yield savings account mentioned above.

If you have a goal that’s many years in the future, you could consider a mix of stocks and bonds. Stocks in particular offer long-term returns that historically beat inflation.

Most working people who want to retire will need to invest in stocks to accumulate and maintain a sufficient nest egg. They can take the risk of losing money in the short term because they have many years ahead for their investments to recover.

And that’s where your situation differs from that of a 28-year-old. The average life expectancy for an 82-year-old male is about eight more years, while the average life expectancy for an 82-year-old female is around nine more years, according to the Social Security Administration.

You may have enough time left to ride out a bad market. But if you don’t have to take such risks to achieve your goals, consider playing it a bit safer.


The 50/30/20 budget was popularized by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi in their book, “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.”

April 23, 2023

Taxes and inherited IRAs

Dear Liz: Thanks for the recent column concerning children getting an inherited IRA, because I’m in that situation. Is the attorney for the estate required to include tax information with the distribution, or is it up to my accountant to sort things out? And since I don’t really need the money right now, would I have options as to how I receive the funds to avoid a tax hit?

Answer: You can’t avoid a tax hit with an inherited traditional IRA. The money has to come out and the withdrawals are taxable. For beneficiaries who aren’t the surviving spouse, the account typically must be drained within 10 years. (There are exceptions for beneficiaries who are minors, disabled or chronically ill.)

You have some flexibility about how rapidly you take the money out, however. If the account owner hadn’t started required minimum distributions before dying, you can withdraw money at any rate you want, provided you empty the account by Dec. 31 of the 10th year following the year of the owner’s death.

If the account owner had started required minimum distributions, you must take a minimum distribution each year. These are typically based on your own life expectancy. In addition to those annual withdrawals, you’ll need to take out the remaining money by the end of the 10th year following the year of death.

There was initially some confusion about whether beneficiaries had to take yearly required minimum distributions or could wait until the 10th year to withdraw the funds, said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Because of that confusion, the IRS has waived the penalties for failing to take required minimum distributions when the IRA owner died in 2020, 2021 or 2022. The waiver of penalties would not be available if the IRA owner died in 2023, Luscombe said.

Leaving money in the account as long as possible means the balance has longer to grow tax deferred. But you also could face a whopping tax bill in that 10th year. Definitely discuss your options with your tax pro. While the attorney for the estate may help with some details — such as arranging to get the money transferred from the deceased owner’s account — it will be up to you to set up your own inherited IRA and to arrange for distributions.


Liz Weston, Certified Financial Planner®, is a personal finance columnist for NerdWallet. Questions may be sent to her at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or by using the “Contact” form at