24-year-old should cut wedding costs, put inheritance in IRA

DEAR BRUCE: I am a 24-year-old teacher from New Jersey. I recently purchased a condo. I will be receiving $10,000 from my grandmother's will, which I don't need for my condo, and I would like to know the best place to put it for now. I will be getting married in the next couple of years and will probably use the money for the wedding. I want to gain the highest amount of interest but still be able to take the money out within a year or two. — R.T., New Jersey

DEAR R.T.: Congratulations on finishing school and buying yourself a condo. The market where you are is somewhat soft, so I hope that you got a good buy. The $10,000 is a very nice gift, and the fact that you are going to look to invest it, at least temporarily, also speaks well of you. I probably should duck when I suggest this, but maybe you want to scale down the cost of your wedding. A portion of that money invested in a Roth IRA at your age and left for the next 45 years could represent a very substantial part of your retirement, which I know is so far in the future you can't envision it. Right now there are few places that you can earn appreciable interest and have access to the money for your wedding, etc., a couple years hence. CDs at this writing are paying a pitiful 11/4 percent or so — hardly worth the effort. You might consider doing some studying and take some risk in stocks with solid companies that pay a modest dividend. Not the most desirable plan but probably the best that exists just now.

DEAR BRUCE: What are the limitations on a Roth IRA account? Is there a combined income limitation for couples to allow a Roth IRA account? — K.M., Kansas

DEAR K.M.: The limitations on a Roth account are $5,000 if you are age 49 or younger, $6,000 over age 50. If you're single or head of household, your adjusted gross income may not be more than $105,000. For married couples filing jointly, adjusted gross income may not be more than $166,000. If your income exceeds these numbers, then you may be eligible for a partial Roth contribution. It would seem to me that anything that would encourage people to save would be good for all of us.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com.

Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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