Suggestions for a $6500 windfall?
June 1, 2012 10:22 AM   Subscribe

I am about to receive a one-time windfall of about $6500 after taxes. I would like to hear suggestions for spending it that will result in happy memories, a sense of accomplishment, or acquiring something that we enjoy owning.

Background info: dual career 40ish couple with a toddler. We have no debt and rent our home with no current plans to buy. We are on track with retirement funds, rainy-day savings, and college fund. We have all the electronics we need and our everyday hobbies are inexpensive. We also have all the furniture, etc. that we need.

Three years ago I would have said "AMAZING TRIP" but the current reality of work and child mean that most of our vacations now involve visiting cross-country grandparents. Any suggestions for awesome travel destinations that can be done from NYC with a child under two without loss of sanity and that don't involve Disney are welcome.

We've also thought about buying a specific piece of art--we've been considering it for about a year and have always come down on the side of having other priorities, but it would fit within this amount.

I am definitely going to have some professional pictures of our family taken, but this will probably be <$500, leaving plenty left over.

But I know the Mefites will have other great suggestions! (It doesn't have to be just one thing or use up the whole amount--I'm looking for lots of ideas here).
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis to Work & Money (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a local food co-op that you can subscribe to? We've got one near us, for instance, that delivers a month's worth of whatever vegetables/fruit/meat are fresh and in season, for around $200 per month. Buy a one-year subscription to something like that, then teach yourself new recipes/cooking techniques based on whatever arrives. You could use whatever money is left to splurge on an awesome new kitchen setup, cookware, books, etc. New skill that will last a lifetime!
posted by jbickers at 10:26 AM on June 1, 2012

Can the grandparents watch your child for a week or so while you and your SO take an AMAZING TRIP?
posted by jabes at 10:28 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

A visit to the grandparents could involve a side trip for parents-only, perhaps?

So the toddler gets exclusive grandparent time, while parents get adult time at a fabulous B&B, wine-tasting, difficult all-day hiking or kayaking, attending a film festival weekend, high-end dining (things that bringing along a toddler to would be inappropriate).

This way you keep your sanity, your child is doted upon by grandparents, you & your partner reconnect as adults, and you enjoy something that reinvigorates.
posted by honey badger at 10:34 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Grandfather clock made by a local artisan.

You get a beautiful piece of art that lives in your home every day and you can leave it to your child(ren).
posted by DWRoelands at 10:35 AM on June 1, 2012

Frankly, the purpose of money in my world is to make shit easy so what I'd do is rent a house in the Hamptons for a week and invite both sets of grandparents to haul ass to me instead of the other way around!

If you wanted to be nicer, you could rent somewhere way cheaper in the middle and fly everyone in, of course.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

6K would pay for a hell of a lot of landscaping and suchlike for the yard. You'd enjoy the trees, flowers and things for years to come.
posted by jquinby at 10:51 AM on June 1, 2012

...assuming your yard isn't super gigantic.
posted by jquinby at 10:51 AM on June 1, 2012

I wouldn't pay to landscape your rental yard. A trip is good, but I think I'd sock it away in a high yield fund just in case.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's a rental - don't spend money on landscaping! Also, as the owner of a high end grandfather clock (via inheritance) I must say the charmingness of the chiming gets old the 80th time it wakes you up.

I vote for the awesome trip - either dropping junior off with Grandma, or flying them in to spend the week at your house.
posted by COD at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2012

A piece of sculpture or a painting (as you mention you've long wanted to buy a piece of art) may serve the same heirloom purpose as the clock as well as making you happy right now.
posted by infini at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2012

I'd create my ideal library.
posted by perhapses at 11:13 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

rats, missed that it was a rental.


Go on the trip, if you can, and buy something really nice while on it . We do this, usually with some sort of locally produced art, to commemorate various places we've been and it's great to see stuff on a shelf or on the wall and remember the day we got it.
posted by jquinby at 11:15 AM on June 1, 2012

You may roll your eyes, but may I recommend a nice cruise for your family that the grandparents can also enjoy? Kill a few birds with one stone.

What's great about cruising is that you don't have to do anything. You sit on the ship, read books, disconnect from the world and if the mood takes you, get up and do something.

There's a lot to do and nothing to do, and you don't have to leave your accomodation if you don't want to.

They have gorgeous villas and suites, NCL has a family suite. You, the wife and kiddo take that one. Have the grandparents stay in smaller cabins.

Now, everyone can congregate for meals, and hang out time in the big room, you can all go to breakfast and lunch at the fancy restaurant, or have them bring room service to you!

I like Norwegian for this.

Another option is a time-share condo somewhere. Again, everyone comes with and you all hang out together.

Or go ahead, buy the art. If you're on track for everything else, do something fun.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2012

Awesome trip to Caribbean to a place like this (I haven't been here - I think I saw it recommended on the green tho and bookmarked it because doesn't it sound perfect?) - bring grandparents, have them stay in adjacent condo. Rotate childcare duty in organized fashion between you/spouse and grandparents so everyone has time to relax and snorkel and drink and be grownups in turn. Bonus: you'll get time without the kid, but not for long enough chunks that you'll go crazy missing her.

We do this in Hawaii, but since you are in NY Hawaii is probably too far.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:24 AM on June 1, 2012

Buy the art, you will have it in every house you move to and it will always be a reminder of when you got it.
posted by rmless at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2012

No specific advice for you. But I would suggest that you sit on the money for a while and decide carefully before spending it.
posted by wutangclan at 11:39 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I would put it somewhere safe and just sit on it for a while. Try to forget it was there. Soon enough, an opportunity or need would present itself, and there it would be. Or, if not, then you've got $6500 more peace of mind.

Alternatively, you could probably do SCUBA lessons for two plus buying all your own gear for under $6500. I know you are thinking that New York is not exactly prime SCUBA country, but frankly most of my own diving has been near Boston and I love every bit of it. Plus next time you get to go on an AMAZING TRIP you can go somewhere more tropical and do some warm-water diving. SCUBA diving is awesome.
posted by Scientist at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Alternatively, you could buy a pair of really awesome bicycles and still have plenty of money left over.

Or you could outfit your living room with some truly awesome home theater equipment.

Or you could buy a couple of good used motorcycles, or a couple of good new scooters.
posted by Scientist at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest bicycles as well, if you don't have them. My wife and I bought bikes last fall, and I can't think of <>
In fact, we wouldn't have found the house we're buying without our bikes- it was for sale by owner in a neighborhood we wouldn't otherwise have seen if we weren't tooling around.
posted by Clambone at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2012

That's weird, Metafilter doesn't like "less than" signs. I mean to say something like "I can't think of an expenditure of less than $2000 that had a great positive impact on our lives."
posted by Clambone at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2012

Those less-than signs are probably being interpreted by the tag-checker as some kind of munged HTML which is being helpfully edited out automatically.

You could also do something like pre-pay a bunch of months of rent and/or other bills, which would save you the hassle and worry of dealing with recurring expenses while at the same time actually costing you nothing as you'd make the money back in savings over that period. As I personally find paying bills to be incredibly stressful, this might be the thing that I would do. Not having a little gremlin in my head constantly saying "Hey man, how much longer until rent is due? You gonna have that money then? OK, well, did you remember to pay your energy bill? What about car insurance? Health insurance? You sure you're all good? Really? OK, well, why don't you go check the mail? I bet there's another one coming up that you forgot about..." would be incredibly freeing for me.
posted by Scientist at 1:05 PM on June 1, 2012

You don't mention what your hobbies are, but in your position I would be looking at my dream musical instrument.
posted by doctord at 1:19 PM on June 1, 2012

Off the top of my head, here is what I can think of:
  • My local humane society has plaques on the individual kennels to indicate sponsors who paid for the new kennel (or equipment or whatever). It would give you warm fuzzies, be a tangible thing you could go visit and see and be proud of, and you'd be able to help out! (You can fill in the "humane society" with perhaps a local independent radio station, local women's shelter, etc.)
  • At the community college I first graduated from, there were small scholarships available for various causes - women in science, non-traditional student, student of good character, etc. If you put your $6500 in a trust with just 1% compound interest, and give out the interest every year for a scholarship, it can help a TON to a student who could use it. You would think a scholarship as small as $150 isn't anything, but that can pay for books or supplies and can be a big difference in a student's life. And, again, it can be something to be proud of. Plus, every year you can read through students' essays and applications and be reminded of who you are helping.
  • Work with your city to donate a bus shelter or a nice bike rack or handi-cap accessible ramp or fountain or garden or community vegetable garden, etc.
Again, these are just ideas that have something tangible for you but that also go to the greater good.
posted by jillithd at 1:50 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh! Thinking of the nice piece of art, you could commission a nice sculpture or piece of art for a city park, too. :)
posted by jillithd at 1:50 PM on June 1, 2012

Are there any experiences you think would be fun, but they don't seem sensible/affordable? Maybe lessons of some sort? (Trapeze, horseback riding, skydiving)?
Any services you've been wanting but ordinarily wouldn't want to pay for? (Spa, life coach, personal trainer, housecleaner? Pay someone to organize your photos or make a first year video of your baby?)
Rent a bouncy castle for your yard and invite the neighborhood kids over
Weekend in the Hamptons or at the Jersey Shore
Get a personal chef to come and have a fancy dinner party for your friends (with the kid asleep, if this is feasible in your home)
Buy memberships to museums or other organizations
Buy your kid a library of classic books for his/her entire childhood
$6500 worth of lottery tickets ;)
(I would buy the art too.)
posted by chickenmagazine at 1:57 PM on June 1, 2012

If you really love the piece of art you are considering, and would be made happy looking at it every day, then buy it. I have a few pieces of art that make me so very happy every time I see them; they are worth every penny I paid for them.
posted by Dolley at 3:23 PM on June 1, 2012

Oh, I would buy the art. If you've wanted it for this long, make the splurge. You will get to live with the piece forever and it will always bring you joy. That is priceless.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:26 PM on June 1, 2012

I came in to recommend a nice pair of bicycles or scooters - - I just inherited a similar amount of money and I am considering those. But I was beaten to the punch!

My neighbors have a little girl who is around two, and this past winter they took a trip to Costa Rica with their daughter. They rented a house and stayed in one place the whole time, and had a wonderful, relaxing vacation. So it's definitely doable to take a great trip with a toddler!
posted by imalaowai at 4:45 PM on June 1, 2012

If I had spare money and a toddler, I would buy a bakfiets cargo bicycle. Grocery shopping and the school run will be a squillion times more fun, and you'll be modelling healthy behaviours for your kid.
posted by embrangled at 4:53 PM on June 1, 2012

I'd save it until the kiddo was a little older to appreciate a good trip. If you don't want to wait, pay for grandparents to come along on a trip with the understanding that at points they'll be watching the little one while you two get some couple time.
posted by asciident at 6:05 PM on June 1, 2012

Do you have something that is currently a bit of a low-level irritant that you could fix? Never reaching into the drawer and finding socks you really really like to wear, say. Ditch every old sock and buy the nicest socks out there. 'Upgrades' are [from some experience with this sort of spendery] usually not very regrettable -- buy nice enough so that there won't be a hassle with a return if something is not totally top-drawer -- better bedding, towels, etc; there're reasons people enjoy posh hotels.

Other enduring 'Ooh, windfall' items here: a "good" watch, a first-rate mattress

If you are really excited by the idea of a trip, why not just bank it for a couple of years and take your slightly older tot? Not that toddlers don't travel okay, but a kid who's just a smidge older would probably enjoy more of the trip. (Lots of potential for good geography lessons in the planning, too)

Are you anywhere near water; would a nice canoe see use?
posted by kmennie at 6:09 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of the things I remember the most about being a kid is sitting at my grandparent's dining table. It was great - big enough for the whole family. So when my husband and I had the money to spare after buying a house, we went out and got a bespoke table and matching bench made by Lorimer Workshop in Rhode Island. 7ft long, made to our specifications (eg: lots of character in the wood, dark stain, no hardware that I can hit my knees on because I am a clumsy oaf), and cost less than $2000 to ship to California... which was actually cheaper than a lot of other options available to us. It's fantastic and we love it. We've had it for a few years, it's big enough for large family holiday meals (8+ people) and serves us well in holding a pile of crap and still being available for meals, hanging out, reading etc

Maybe you don't need a dining table, but if there's another piece of furniture you need/want, then getting something handmade might tick your boxes. There are plenty of artisans out there that would be happy to take that money and turn it into something beautiful. And you'll be able to turn it into a meaningful family heirloom just by using it and then passing it onto your kid when they're old enough.
posted by saturnine at 10:16 AM on June 2, 2012

And now I see that you have all the furniture you need. Doh. Maybe you could upgrade to something nicer? There's always something hardier out there.
posted by saturnine at 10:17 AM on June 2, 2012

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