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April 25, 2013


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There is always a good reason for saving. As a matter of fact, you can never save enough. Because you don’t have the clarity or vision for what the savings can be used for in this season of your life doesn’t mean there is or won’t be a reason. You keep saving and time will tell because there is a time and season for everything under the sun. Enjoy the season of life you are in, know that you are where you are, what you are doing and what you have because God wants it like that. When you are content and focus more on where you are right now, you will see that in no time, opportunities starts to come your way, you start to discover new interest and your purpose/calling will start to be revealed to you slowly. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aspire for more or better things or make future plans. But you know what they say, “Man proposes, God disposes.” You shouldn’t feel guilty when your splurge once in a while. Remember, “Life is the journey not the destination.” In essence, it’s your experiences, what you did or are doing or will do that life is all about. The key is BALANCE. Balance in saving, spending and satisfaction. You can save all the money and die immediately after retirement. On the other hand, you don’t save enough and end up living till your 90s. Keep it up because you are doing good.

I'd aim for financial freedom (getting investment income to equal basic living expenses), but that's already something I want. Personally I've been thinking about real estate - getting a reasonable house, with a mortgage (30yr would be easier in the short term, I'll run the numbers again when I'm closer but I hate the idea of paying that much interest); renting it out putting the rent towards the mortgage.
I havn't yet seen a place near me that'd give positive cash flow, but this seems to give a hefty discount off the market price in all the places I've looked at (because the renters pay most of it).
Some areas are much better, and you can make money from the start, and from what I've heard if you're in America interest rates have been very low lately.
Might be worth running the numbers on it, good luck with stewarding your fortune :)

Sounds like you are in a great situation and, thankfully, you understand how fortunate you are. A simple goal would be, for the short term at least, to leave your invested money alone to grow, and to live off and enjoy life on your income. Once you settle down, you may have to take some of the investment to pay for loans or a down payment, but make sure you build that back up quickly.

On another note, and although I am still working on this same issue myself at the age of 30, don't feel guilty about taking vacations, eating good food, or spending money on other life experiences. It is all about finding a balance between the future and now, and not letting the now eat into your goals for the future (aka why we budget). I would highly recommend doing some traveling while you have the time, and are not tied down by grad school or focused on building a new career. I am very grateful to my wife for giving me the traveling bug, since I was more interested in piling up money or throwing it at cars than experiencing more of the country/world before I met her. :o)

Good luck on deciding on a future career path.


I might just save up and buy a duplex or a multi-unit you can live in. That is a fun experience generally, and it is nice to have other people paying down your mortgage. It would put your $ to work and wouldn't hurt your ability to move.

You mentioned you may move around quite a bit, I would advise against the comments suggesting you buy something now. Wait until you are more settled.

At 23 $113k may seem like a million dollars. Keep adding to it, because it can be gone very quickly. As you said, a down payment on a house and grad school could wipe it out.

Don't lose the drive that has you working that seasonal job (even if you quit the job itself). Once you find a career you like, work just as hard at that.

Thanks all! I really appreciate the feedback.

I know that one tip I hear often for not feeling guilty about spending is budgeting money for fun, so that you can spend money that has been set aside specifically as "fun money." To be honest, I'm not a great budgeter, so that hasn't been working well for me. Does anyone have any other tips? Or suggestions about how to be a better budgeter?

So you're 23, have a part time job you don't like, and a seasonal job you do like. You also have no idea what career or field you want to work in.

My perspective, as someone old enough to be your grandfather, is that it doesn't say much about how you value your education so why would a future employer value it.

You say, "There's more to life than money and I often feel that I should be more willing to spend on experiences. I try to save as much as I can, but I'm not sure there's a good reason for me to be saving so much."

I can just imagine myself interviewing you for a job, quite frankly you don't sound like the kind of employee I would be the slightest bit interested in. When I was 23 I was married and my wife and I had emigrated from England to Canada at age 22 with $400 between us. A Canadian aircraft company had paid our passage for us and had given me a job as a junior engineer. My future career was set in stone and I knew exactly what kind of future I wanted and how to go about getting it. I was on a course that I stuck to until I retired in 1992 as a senior staff engineer at America's largest aerospace corporation.

You also say, "I really have no plans at this point. I haven't settled on a career, so I don't know how long I'll want to work."

When are you going to wake up and get your act together?


Good for you. You are thinking about money at an early age. Start saving now and it will pay off in a big way.

As far as budgeting, I find that people get into trouble with the expenses that are not recurring on a monthly basis. Like the annual taxes, the surprise repair, or the vacation.

Look over last years expenses and write down every expense that is not monthly. Insurance? AAA coverage? Car repairs? vacation?

Take that number (add a little more for surprises) and divide it by 12. Save that amount monthly in a savings account as a "FUND" for those non-monthly annual expenses. Then when those expenses arise-- you will have all the money you need to pay them without raiding your savings.

@ Old Limey.

You'd be surprised. I interview well.

That said, your criticism is harsh but not entirely undeserved. I guess I do sound like a bit of a brat with everything handed to me on a silver plate. However, having your future set in stone (as you did) is, I think, not the only way to achieve success. And at any rate, I'm not willing to pick a career and stick with it until I retire. If I'm going to spend 40 years doing it, I need to not hate it, and I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to take my time in choosing what I want to do.

Of course, I also need to be working more actively to find a career, so you're not wrong about that. The good news is that my seasonal job is a specific subset of teaching, so I could easily make the case to future employers that I'm spending this time building valuable skills.

Haha, I enjoyed both Old Limey's comment and LS's response to it. I'm only 29, but I was married at 24 and already in a job I enjoyed (and still enjoy) and have strong visions for at least certain aspects of the future. That said, even I don't feel like my career is set in stone - while I enjoy my work and I'm good at it (and it's growing rapidly), I feel like there are many other careers I would also enjoy (maybe enjoy more) and would be equally good at. My career doesn't directly relate to my field of study, but it's what job I found after college and it's worked out very well. My company knows I don't necessarily intend to be a "lifer" and they do what they can to make sure I don't feel a desire to investigate other potential careers.


One recommendation I would have for simple budgeting is to use a site like to track all of your expenses. You can set up budgets for various categories, and it will track against that to show you how successful you were (or how far over budget you went). It is pretty low maintenance and only requires you check it from time to time and make sure they categorize transactions correctly.



Thanks for the response! I guess I'm not providing nearly enough information here. I actually already use Mint and enjoy seeing exactly how much I spend from month to month and all that jazz. But since my income is totally different from month to month, it's tough to stick to my budget - I've budgeted based on the smallest income I might receive in a month, but then if I go over budget in a category, I don't really adjust my spending accordingly because I have enough income to cover it. Luckily for me, I'm too cheap to get myself into any trouble, but my self-discipline leaves something to be desired.

I have thought about using YNAB instead of Mint, because I hear that it's proactive rather than reactive like Mint. Maybe having to enter my spending would guilt me into not going over budget.

I found Old Limey's advice untrue and unecessarily harsh. It very well might be that someone should devote more time to finding a career, but you only support your argument by saying that when you were his age you found a job and lifestyle you love? I'm not sure how that is suppose to help? LS is financially independent and living the life that fits him at the moment and actively looking to improve it. To me, that is having your "act together" if ever there was an example.

I sympathize with LS because I started my career fairly late (27) after traveling and teaching around Europe for several years. I had tons of people tell me that I should go home and get a "real job" that I hate because it is irresponsible of me to do otherwise. Well, I returned home right after the financial meltdown, and precisely because of the skills I learned traveling and teaching, I got an amazing and high paying job (around 80k starting salary with lots of promotion opportunity). I make far more than the people that were lecturing me about how I should "get my act together" AND I did it in a way that made me happy and smarter.

So LS, I would say keep looking for career opportunities that make fulfill you, and keep working hard. As long as you are not leeching money from anyone, don't let anyone try and guilt you into doing something you hate. If you work hard, work smart, and stay hungry, you will most likely do great things.

LS congrats on having a really nice foundation on which to grow. From your profile, I would say continue to save, even when you don't have a specific purpose in mind. Being open to the experiences of the world and being willing to try a new path (as opposed to sticking to say the corporate road) is really a blessing, and at such a young age with a nice safety net, you've got a lot of opportunity ahead of you. You say you love your part-time seasonal gig but hate your regular full time job? Without knowing exactly what that part time thing is, have you considered exploring that passion further? Maybe there is a possible business venture you explore or potentially look for another location where that type of work is year round. There is something to be said for following your passion and doing what you love. I would continue to use a money manager for what you have saved currently until you really have a strong understanding of personal finance and investing. If not, one wrong move could cost you in a big way.

As far as budgeting goes, as long as you continue to have a regular paycheck, use that income as the basis for budget. I would recommend then using whatever you bring in extra as a bonus, but have a structure to it. One thing we've done with my husband's bonuses is break it out so that regardless of what comes in 10% is given to our church, 20% goes into savings, 50% goes towards debt, and the remaining 20% can be used for whatever we choose. Sometimes it means we have a nice dinner out or purchase something we've been wanting for our house/kids. Other times it goes to debt or savings. We follow this model whether the extra is $100 or $1,000. Hope this helps!

I also found Old Limey's advice to be overly harsh. He has a point...but this isn't the 1950s any more. Most employers will toss aside their empolyees like garbage at the first sign of a one might as well find soemthing they like doing. That said, LS, it's really easy to be an unfocused drifter for years..and you definitely don't want that. Give yourself a deadline (like no more than 2 years) to actively explore possibilities (not just have fun, but really investigate) and then pick something. Inevitably, whatever you pick will probably involve some kind of difficut trade off, so just be aware there are no perfect jobs or careers..everything has pros and cons to it.

On the investment front...I think the best think you can do is ditch your adviser and invest in a boring balanced mutual fund that invests in a mix of stocks and bonds...

Something like a low cost balanced fund such as Vanguard Wellington would work great. If you invest $100K in a fund like Vanguard Wellington and manage to get 8% returns (the fund's long term average, going back to 1929), you'll have over $1,000,000 in 30 years. That won't support a luxury lifestyle, but you'll be at least semi-financially independent in your early 50s if you can just invest that money and leave it alone.

You are doing an awesome job! It sounds like you have great habits, the game changer for you will be increasing your income. If you can increase your income and not increase your lifestyle proportionately you will end up wealthy.

I agree with Old Limey. You just graduated and have student loans and still have no idea what you are going to do with your life. You also don't seem very concerned about it either. If you quit your job in a few years, I can see you not fully working for another 3-4 years or working sporadically and having burned through the entire $100K. The posters who think you are doing great only say so because you inherited $100K. If that weren't the case, they would be on your case about going to school, graduating, and still having no direction in your life.

Old Limey's comment sounded harsh because your analysis of yourself came across as lazy. You may be a hard worker, but it doesn't show from the post. If you aim for nothing (no goals), you'll hit it every time. Pretend you can't touch that $100K until you retire or that it doesn't exist. If anything that money is robbing you of the pleasure/pain of finding your passion.

Your analysis of YNAB is spot on. You can use Mint if you are content finding out after the fact that you blew the budget or you can use YNAB to set up goals and proactively be in control of your budget.

I'm glad to see that someone else interpreted the user's profile as I did. Most experienced attorneys that help older people with their wills and trusts advise their clients to never leave young people a sizable lump sum of money, typically suggesting that grandchildren don't receive any until they are at least 30. Many young men in their early twenties would make a beeline to the nearest BMW, Porche, or Mercedes showroom because they associate such cars with increased status.

Later on in life there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained from being a self made man or woman, especially when you started off with $400 like my wife and I, and now have a net worth of around $10M. I also gained an immense amount of satisfaction from my work and have a wall covered with awards gained from helping to design and analyze weapons that kept America safe when we were in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

My wife and I have spent a boatload of money on "experiences" but they came after we had the essential building blocks for a happy family, successful children, and our retirement well in hand.

My funds database starts on 9/1/1988 and has about 25 years of data.
If I use the APR from 9/1/1988 for Vanguard's Wellington fund which is 10.37% that works out that $100K would be worth $1.93M with all dividends reinvested after 30 years. Another good fund is Vanguard's Wellesley fund with an APR of 9.69% the comparable gain would be $1.6M.

Of course, inflation is also typically a huge number over 30+ years. For example, the home we bought in 1977 for $107K would sell quickly now for at least $1.3M. We get pestered by realtors every week.


The reason I'm not concerned about the student loans is that, as I mentioned in my profile, I'm putting all the money from one of my jobs toward those loans. They will be paid off by summer.

I certainly don't intend to touch the money I inherited unless it's for a house or grad school. I can see where you might think that I'm the type to take time off from working and live off that money, but you couldn't be more wrong. I am confused and uncertain about my direction in life, but definitely not lazy, and not working would not be an option for me.

I'm fine with criticism and agree there's plenty that I could be doing better. The real question, Noah and Old Limey, is what do you suggest? If you were me, making more than enough to support myself for the time being and with the luxury of time to look for a career that really interests me, but with very few leads as to what things are out there, where would you start?

You're young, and in great financial shape.

I think the biggest issue for you is determining a career path. That money in the bank is excellent in terms of security and/or allowing you to explore things, and you've kept your costs why not spend some time meeting with a career counselor? Or trying a new field? I know you mention grad school, but let me warn you -- DO NOT go to grad school unless and until you SPECIFICALLY know what you want to do with whatever degree you get (I've seen to many people just go to law school without really thinking about if they'd like to be lawyers, for instance....and despite what you hear, a JD is basically only "good" or of value for practicing law or doing legal related work.)

If you like the seasonal job, look at it -- what do you like about it? Can you get those things from another, full-time all-year job? Are their similar jobs that would appeal to you? With your nest egg, you could even afford to take an internship in something you were passionate about for awhile, particularly if it was an internship highly likely to lead to full time work if you do well at it....

The best part about being young, ESPECIALLY if you're young and debt-free, is that you can explore and find something you REALLY are passionate about.


Before you think about quitting your full time job, you need to have a plan and preferably another full time job that you have more passion about. If you don't have that, suck it up and stay with the job you really don't enjoy. It's great that you have identified something you don't like, but you need to find something that will support you that you do like.

"If you were me, making more than enough to support myself for the time being and with the luxury of time to look for a career that really interests me, but with very few leads as to what things are out there, where would you start?"

This statement also makes you look lazy. You have no dependents and plenty of time and are not scouring the internet (the biggest resource known to man) trying to figure out what you like and how you can make a living off it? Spend this weekend doing some soul-searching and at least identify an area you want to be in: technology, health, sales, sports, financial, politics, etc. Figure out that first and then spend the rest of the next week looking through Craigslist and (is that still around).

The thing that worried me in your profile was that you referred to the inheritance as a "large" sum several times. Not trying to pick on you here, but that worries me for you because if you view it as "large" it can kind of have the effect of getting in your way so early in your adult life ("I don't need to push so hard, try so hard, deprive myself in order to maximize my savings, etc. because, after all, I already do have a large sum set aside"). It is a nice nest egg, and it can someday become a sum large enough to impact your life in a big way...but it isn't really that yet. The only way it will become that is if you can almost forget it exists (aside from educating yourself about investments and monitoring those), at least forget that it is spendable. I think you should set yourself a goal of saving a handsome downpayment for your first home WITHOUT using this inheritance. I urge you to not think of this money as money that you are "saving FOR anything". Just let it be, and go forth and figure out your life as though you never received it. Someday when you've figured out the things that you are unsure about now regarding career and have a decade or two of that life experience under your belt, revisit the idea of what to do about your inheritance. By then it very well might be a "large sum" and if you've lived enough life you'll know exactly what you want to do with it - whether it's going into business for yourself, retiring early or any of a myriad of decisions that you just haven't got the experience to decide yet. I do not mean this to be insulting, I think you sound like you've basically got a good head on your shoulders. I just think it would be a shame if you let yourself be impacted in a negative way by the existence of what seems right now to be a lot of money to you.

I also agree with Old Limey. I also would not hire him. He spent money on a college education, yet had no plan what he was going to do with that degree. It shows lack of poor planning and I would be concerned about decision making ability on the job.

My advice is to put the money away for retirement savings and forget you even have it. That way, at least you will have something set aside for the future. I would then work a job that would earn enough money to pay for any future educational needs. When you work hard for the money, you will forced to make and follow a very serious plan for growing your career.

@LS...I would NOT, I reapeat NOT use the inheritance to buy a house or for grad school. The reasons for that:

1. You'll buy more house than you can realistically afford. A house is not really an investment. It's more of a lifestyle choice..and you are buying into the lifestyle of the people in the neighborhood where you live. If your current income can't really support that lifestyle, you'll be living beyond your means in no time.

2. Same kind of issue for grad school. It distorts your perception of the value of grad school, making you think it's more worthwhile than it really is, if you use the 100K for it. You already have an undergrad degree that you're not really using. You could VERY easily do the same thing for grad school, especially with 100K in your pocket to burn. I'm not saying don't go to grad school, ...but as someone else mentioned, Grad school can be a huge waste of time and money if you don't have a specific idea of what you're going to do with that degree. Use your own money to pay for grad school and I guarantee you'll be a lot more focused than if you don't.

I strongly advise you to let that money work for you and pretend it doesn't exist. Like Old Limey mentioned, you could invest in a moderate fund like Vanguard Wellington or a somewhat conservative fund like Vanguard Wellesley Income and it could turn into almost $1.5 - $2M by the time you're in your early 50s, if you invest it, leave it alone and are a bit lucky as far as returns go. Trust me, if you think the work world is a grind now....just wait another 10 or 20 years. You will be soooo glad to have that money working for you.

You say, "I'm a recent college grad, age 23, living in a large US city, and supporting myself for the first time". However you failed to mention what your degree is in - that's all important. There are highly sought after degrees and also degrees that very few employers are interested in.

I knew one young man that had a BS in Psychology but was working as a software developer. Everything was fine until the great recession started after which he was soon laid off. He moved in with his girlfriend, lived rent free, and was fortunately able to obtain health insurance from her company as her "Significant other". He was out of work for the two years that he came to a weekly hiking group in which his mother and I were long time members but I did hear after I left the group that he eventually found another job.

I think it's odd that you asked for help/advice in finding a career path but don't ever mention your degree, what your current jobs are that you dislike and the one you do enjoy. You also don't mention any other interests that could lead to a future career.

It sounds like you need to do some real soul searching and start forming a plan. It's okay to change the plan as you go along, but you need to be moving forward towards something.

Put the money into some sort of balanced fund and forget about it until you're ready to retire. There've been several good suggestions by previous posters. The jump start that money has given you will really show its true worth with time.

I think Old Limey's first post was way too harsh and insensitive. I hope that his intent was to help (and I do see how it could be helpful), but it seemed like he was mostly tooting his own horn and putting down LS.

I also think some of you are misreading the post. LS is female and it's unclear if her "stable" job is full time, but she says she is supporting herself entirely on her income. Which at 23 is better than many.

Look, people don't all have the same motives and things that make them happy. You don't need millions of dollars, do the same job for 40 years, or have a degree to be happy and have financial freedom.

@Old Limey....I'm not disputing your returns stats for Vanguard Wellington at all...but I think it's best to be a little more conservative when estimating future returns as I think we both share a similar point of view regarding the challenges America (and most developed countries) are facing economically. Better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed! By my calculations using Morningstar's chart, Vanguard Wellington's returns going back to 1929 averaged 8.25%. For the Admiral share class, which LS qualifies for, you can add another 10 basis points to the return. By the way, I think you were a bit harsh in your assessment, but you were not totally wrong, either....just a matter of degree.

Also heed what @Mark said. Grad school is for people that know what they want to do. You don't find your path in grad school.

Well, it's been real, everyone. To briefly address a few questions:

1. I don't mention any details about my degree or job history because I'm not comfortable sharing that information in this context. As you can see, I'm trying to stay as anonymous as possible. I know I'm depriving myself of more specific advice, but such is the nature of anonymous profiles.

2. I know exactly what I would study in grad school; I'm just not sure if that's the path I'd want to take.

3. To those of you who offered advice, thank you! It was interesting to read and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

4. To those of you who offered criticism, thank you as well. However, I think you made a lot of assumptions that are colored by your own preconceptions. I'm 23 and graduated less than a year ago. Old Limey, if you think most people my age know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives, I suspect you haven't talked to many recent graduates. Noah, I said I work two jobs and support myself completely (and yes, one of those jobs is full-time, so I'm working well over 40 hours a week), and from that you get lazy and likely to not work at all for a few years? Ok, but I think you're relying on a stereotype of a mid-twenties bum, not actually looking at what I said.

Anyway, thanks again everyone. It was an interesting experience, to say the least.

The beauty of this site is its anonymity.
There is only one person that uses this site that I have actually met in person and corresponded with.
In order to contact another member you would have to go through FMF as the intermediary, and the person you wish to contact can then accept or decline your request. Thus I don't understand why you are so secretive and paranoid about providing information about your education and job history that would help readers to give you more pertinent advice. If you don't want advice then why bother posting a profile.


Unless you are among only a few people who graduated with your specific degree in the entire country, it would take someone many hours to match up your initials with all recent graduates. I am assuming that LS is not even your true initials, so you are more anonymous than you think. Honestly, everyone here simply wants to help, but it requires being open and disclosing your past. By not willing to do that, you are forcing us to guess and assume you have something to hide. Seriously, just tell us your degree, even if it is just an area, like technology, liberal arts, economics, etc. Are you embarrassed about it?

My comment about being lazy is that it doesn't seem as though you are working towards a plan for your future. You know you want to obtain more schooling, but you don't know what you would use it for. You want to find a job that you enjoy more, and even with plenty of free time, you can't seem to use available resources or discuss plans with others. You want to go to grad school, but don't know what you would use the schooling for afterwards. At this rate you may never find something you are 100% passionate about. There will always be things about a job that you don't like. That's normal.

You aren't lazy in the sense of not working hard. You made it through college and work 40 or more hours a week. You are lazy in the sense that you aren't using your mind and gifts to it's fullest potential. You are getting comfortable with where you are at in life. It's a dangerous thing because you are only robbing yourself. Ask yourself if you want to be in the same place you are at in 10 years or even 5 years. If that answer is no, try a little harder at coming up with some goals. Spend some time discovering your passions.

It seems we are all forgetting what the purpose of a reader profile is. From the heading:

The purpose of this series is to help us all identify with people like us (in similar situations -- not all will be, of course, but eventually I'm sure you will find someone like you here), get to know the frequent commenters on the site, and hear some financial wisdom/challenges from people other than me.

I understand this is the perfect opportunity to help people and give advice, but that was definitely not the initial intent. Forcing someone to be more candid will not invite additional people to contribute to the series.

@Noah - true it is hard to match up initials with a degree. However, it would be much easier for her (his? still not sure) friends/family to make the connection with the additional information and perhaps she doesn't want that.

With regards to the profile, I actually do agree with Old Limey and Noah that there are probably some things to be done to get additional focus in life. At the same time, I am also 23 and recently graduated and most people I know from high school have not made near as much progress. I also don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to not have your future decided already. If you have the right mindset, you can succeed even if you start late. Both my parents are fairly successful despite not starting "real" jobs until their late 20's/early 30's, it is possible, it just usually rules out an early retirement - which isn't for everybody.


Good point about family and friends reading it. However, how many 23 year olds do you know who have a $100K inheritance? :)

While it may be FMF's intent for us to be able to relate to a profile, I haven't seen many profiles that didn't ask for some type of advice from the community. Even those people who are financially sound and successful always have at least a few things they are conflicted over and want some opinions. Merely submitting a profile says to me that this person wants advice.

Overall, this person is doing well. She has had great role models and will probably do very well financially in life. My advice was only to never get comfortable. Never stop learning and never stop wanting to better yourself. I see people all around me who stopped growing years ago, are in dead-end jobs they hate, and like to complain about their circumstances but do nothing about them. Part of the fervor in my posts is probably directed at myself, who at 23 didn't have the ambition/confidence that I have now and wasted several years getting too comfortable and not growing. I'm 31 now and only now starting to really get that passion flowing. I don't want this individual to make the same mistake.

Wow. Lots of opinions here. I am a little late to the party, so LS if you are still keeping up on this thread here is my two cents.

I'll address what I'd advise you to do with the windfall in a moment but first, I think you are on a great path considering that you already live below your means, have frugal habits, and spend less than you make. Many people older than you have yet to figure out how to do this, let alone most of your recently graduated peers. I think whatever you choose to do in the future, whether you are making $2000 a month or $12,000, you should keep these habits. Even if it takes you a while to figure out "what you really want to do" (and btw some of us never figure this one out), you will have the habits and discipline that will allow you more freedom than the average debt-strapped person.

You say you are not really saving for anything or spending for anything in particular. As Mark and others have suggested, I would make my goal financial independence. Not early retirement, necessarily, but the financial freedom to try different things until you truly do find the thing you love. It's a very long-term goal that you probably won't reach for at least a couple decades, but I can say from experience it is well worth it. (I am 37, DH is 41 and we are just 4 years shy of being able to live off the income of what we have saved. We may or may not retire, but we definitely won't NEED to work.)

You are just 23. Your relative gave you a wonderful gift of that 100K -- a head start. You also have the gift of time. Invest that money wisely (a mix of taxable & tax-deferred, something w/low fees!), don't touch it, let it grow. Most importantly ADD TO IT. Don't think of it as a future house down payment, grad school tuition, or a rainy day fund. (Save for those things out of your actual earnings). Think of it as the means to an end: financial independence -- enough money so that you can either mostly live off the dividends/interest or so that you can withdraw a small percentage to live on each year while doing the things that you love.

I don't have enough information to advise you on how to determine your career path, but whatever it is you decide to do, as long as you keep the LBYM lifestyle and save for the things you want (grad school, house) out of your income (not your inheritance) you will do fine.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you come back and post some kind of update in a few years to let us know how things are going!

AC, I am still around and appreciate your two cents. I am already adding to it out of my own earnings, so I'm on track there; it's strange to think of financial independence at this point when I've really only been in the workforce for ~10 months, but I think that will be my eventual goal, so it makes sense to start working toward it now.

Noah, I felt your original comment was pretty aggressive, but I see where you're coming from and appreciate that you (and Limey) are only trying to point out what you see as a problem.

I have strong ties to/know a lot of people in the area that FMF is from, which is why I'm especially paranoid that friends/family could identify me if I share any additional details about my life. My primary purpose in sharing my profile was to get advice on my finances, and I got plenty of that. I think I have to figure out the career stuff on my own. :) Thanks again to everyone, and if you're a late commenter, I'm still lurking around and will see your comment.

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