What would you do with 20K?

Firstly, hello dopers! I don’t post as often as before, but I do still enjoy visiting this website. My life has been busy in a good way.

I ask because I will soon have 20K saved up and I will be at a life crossroads. I have been a full time music teacher for almost 6 years. During those six years, my job has been both extremely frustrating, and also at times very rewarding. I have dreamed consistently over the past six years of doing something different with my life. And next year is the right time to make a big change. I will be turning 30, I have no kids, I own lots of musical equipment to pursue my music on my own time and in my own way. The job I am in is facing restructuring next year, so it looks time for me to leave it and move into the city so I no longer need to commute 1 1/2 hours every day.

I want to apply to the computer engineering program at my local university, however I seem to getting cold feet lately. I did one correspondence course in basic entry level computer programming and earned a 92%. I am currently working on a calculus class and plan to be finished by May 2012. I hope that would adequately prepare me for school.

I am thinking lately teaching may not be so bad if I were to land a better gig in the city without a commute. It certainly would be nice for my pocketbook! I could put the 20K towards a house, rather than tuition.

What would you do with me? I’ve had lots of crazy thoughts enter my head as well lately including:

  1. Sub next year, spend the 20K on finishing my home recording studio into something professional. Forget the engineering plan and keep teaching and peforming.

  2. Take a masters in Educational Technology, it’s kind of a flimsy tech program but it would match my degree well and I might be able to get a four year consulting job at the end of it (90K position) and it would put me in a position to be a principal someday.

  3. Invest in a home videography business (say what!?). I’ve always wanted to try working in film and video. This is probably my most crazy idea.

(As I was typing this, a friend of mine who is a principal called and invited me to perform at our school division’s february social, where he would introduce me to some superintendents. Destiny?)

So how would you proceed if you were me? What would you do with 20K and no debts?

I should mention…I will have 20K at the end of the school year…that being August 2012.

You can’t just buy a camera and hang out a shingle. I was involved with a local studio, and we approached things with a filmmaker’s eye. I have to say that our products were much superior to the shops that basically sent out a guy with a camcorder. We used (at least) two cameras on every shoot, and we even used a jib at weddings. And that’s only half of it. Being adept at editing is crucial. (We used Final Cut Pro.)

That said, that’s what I would do in your position.

Now if I suddenly found myself with an extra 20 kilobucks, I’d put about a 50% downpayment on a '70s-vintage Cessna 172. :wink:

The reason I think of it as an option is because I already own a mac pro, final cut pro 7, as well as pro tools audio software and a canon 7D camera. I already budgeted about 12K for purchasing 2 cameras and related equipment. But I’m not sure how economical the business is. I’ve always wanted to make an indie film as well!

Sounds like you are off a good start. Our goal was to make everything ‘cinematic’. So we approached every project as a ‘film crew’ rather than ‘generic videographers’. Business was great. It didn’t hurt that we charged the same or less than the guys who showed up with a consumer-grade camcorder. The key, I think, is to get out there and develop a reputation for the quality of your product.

Me too. :wink:

I’m a bit more pragmatic. Also somewhat older - when I was 19 and got a small inheritance, I buggered off to Egypt for three months by myself and had a great time. :slight_smile: It all depends where you are in life and what your priorities are.

If the educational option (#2) is realistic, I’d do that - within a year or two of graduation you’d have the extra 20 grand to play film maker with, right? Plus more coming in as long as you stay working in the field.

Otherwise, I’d put it in real estate. To live in or rent out. Mind you where I live $20,000 gets you a fair bit, real-estate wise. Other locales it would be a meaningless drop in the proverbial bucket, so YMMV.

Go to a brew pub, have a fun time. Buy some books I always wanted, and some pieces of musical equipment (nothing fancy). Have my teeth cleaned, buy a shitload of Xanax, and restock my pantry with all the food I’d want. Buy a handgun and rounds, and a CCW permit.

Invest the rest, and walk around like my dick was swinging low to the ground. Maybe buy a new pair of jeans, a haircut, and some new sneakers, plus one of those e-cigarettes.

Quit my job and move to Sweden like I’m already planning to do next year, but I’d be able to do it immediately rather than wait. I suspect this isn’t helpful data for your decision.

I would pay off our mortgage.

However, in your case, do you have an emergency fund? And/or do you have disability insurance (just in case)?

I’d pay off my mortgage and buy a new car in order to give my old one to my sister who’s going to college. I still might do the latter, it’s either that or spend an ungodly markup for a used car.

I’d buy a car - I’m saving up for one right now.

I would pay off my home equity loan.

Of the options you listed for yourself, I like number one.

I would use $20k to top-up the deposit on a new house. We’re hoping to move soon, and an extra $20k would be about 5% of the total price which would be v. useful.

If I had to spend it on “fun” stuff I’d buy a nice TV and home cinema package, a couple of iPads, and get my wife driving lessons. The rest would go on a nice fmaily holiday.

I’d probably start by paying off my credit cards (only about $2000 worth of debt) and the loan I took from my TSP to cover closing costs on my home (about $5000). After that I’d send a cut to a few worthwhile non-profit organizations and put what’s left in the bank and sleep a little easier at night.

Rereading the OP and noticing “and no debts” at the end, I would still stash a good deal (or most) of it away as an emergency fund, just in case. I haven’t really been able to save much up since buying my house, so $20K would be a big help on that front.

I remember you from your old OPs!

  1. Ha ha ha $20k on housing in SK/AB. You made a funny.
  2. Move to city. Sub. Take Masters. Actually, think about sucking it up and taking a full-time teaching job that will pay for you to take your Masters.
  3. Free time is music!

I’d pay off my student loans or try to negotiate a settlement with my ex re: our payments but that’s not likely as she likes having me over the barrel financially.

Realistically, I’d stash it away.

But, with good planning, that’s a two year trip around the world. I could finally get to Ethiopia, Cambodia, go back to India, maybe make it to South America…Pretty tempting.

Invest in an appropriately balanced portfolio of low-cost index mutual funds/ETFs.

I’ll second that - I did not start a retirement savings plan until 20 years ago when I was in my early 40’s.

I really wish I had started at 30 (or 20)… The power of compound interest is amazing.

Save $2k a year from 20-30 and at 65 you are ahead of the folks that do the same from 30-65!

If I were you with 20 grand, I would go with option #2.

If I were me with 20 grand, I would buy a DeLorean.