How We Handled The Windfall


Landlord (Photo credit: FletchtheMonkey)

Three years ago, my mother-in-law died.  She didn’t have a will, but that’s a story for another day.

My wife, being an only child, inherited everything.  All of the assets, and all of the problems.

She inherited the house, which was completely paid off.  That was nice.

My mother-in-law was a hoarder who didn’t buy into the idea of maintaining your property.  That was not nice.

Between the life insurance policies and the ready cash, she inherited about $60,000.  Also nice.

It’s all gone.  Not so nice.

Now, I know you’re asking where it went.  Lucky for you, that’s what this post is about.

We paid off the last $10,000 of our credit card debt, and haven’t accumulated a balance since.  Now our cards are paid off in full every month.

We put $5,000 down on the Chevy Tahoe we bought in 2012 and paid off in full 9 months later.

Every last cent of the rest went into the house we inherited.

Huh?  45 fricking grand to get the house ready to rent?


  • $3000 to clear out the brush and landscape the yard
  • A few hundred to have the hardwood floors sanded, stained, sealed, and buffed
  • An intense carpet-cleaning
  • Painting every single room
  • 3 large dumpsters to handle the garbage we pulled out of the house
  • New refrigerator
  • New washing machine
  • New boiler
  • New stove
  • New patio door
  • New locks for the doors and windows
  • Security lights
  • Food for all of our helpers whom we can never thank enough
  • Finishing the basement

All of that pretty, pretty money, gone in less than a year.

What did we get out of it?  A rentable asset that is bringing in $1200 every month, with minimal work.

We could have chosen to sell the place, but we would have had to do nearly all of that work, anyway, so it wouldn’t have saved anything.

I like having the new stream of income, even though it will take several years to turn a profit.  That house isn’t going anywhere, and since it’s only 3 miles from Minneapolis and 5 miles from downtown Minneapolis, it will always be an in-demand area for renters.

It was just a lot of work turning it into a useful property instead of a year-long drain on time, patience, and money.

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    1. I think you did great!

      In late 2011 and early 2012, my online income skyrocketed. We literally had one month where we made nearly $24,000. But in April 2012, everything screeched to a halt at about half to a third of what we had been making thanks to Google’s new software update that changed the rankings of blogs.

      Thankfully, we hadn’t started living on huge sums every month. Our lifestyle inflation was manageable. We ended up using the $60,000 or so that we had made over the last 6 months to payoff our rental home and put 20% down on our new home. Now we bring in about $2000 a month in rental income, which covers the new mortgage and the property taxes on both homes. That means we need to make $4000-$5000 a month from our online business and side hustles. That hasn’t been an issue.

      So it was sad to say goodbye to $15,000+ months, but we are still more than happy making $6000+ a month doing our job from our own home and having the time for sports officiating (hubby’s hobby job) and pet sitting (my hobby job). Our side hustles fund our future.

    2. First, sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. While a windfall is always nice, it is still a tough situation to go through. I think you did great with the money. Clearing off debt and setting yourself up with a monthly stream of income puts your family in a great position moving forward!

    3. Wow! That is so cool! I’m sorry your mother-in-law passed, but it’s amazing that you have a paid-off rental property that will generate income for you. Kudos to you both for investing in the property and your future. Great post.

    4. What you’ve done with the money is awesome! First, getting rid of the credit card balances in one shot must have been nice! Also, having a new income stream is a great thing to have! Especially one that requires little from you now after doing all that work upfront. Kudos my friend 🙂

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