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A reader wants to know what to do with a small windfall. See Howard's video response.

2 minute read

Question: My father died recently, thankfully at a ripe old age. He was a great guy, and he left me and my brother $10,000 each.

My wife wants me to use my money on paying down our mortgage, but I’m thinking I should invest it in retirement – I keep reading on your site about how important that is, and most of us stink at that.

So which one should I do, Howard?

— Joe in Indiana

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Howard Dvorkin on how to get out of debt fastFirst, Joe, my condolences about your father. He obviously raised you right — you’re being responsible about this inheritance.

Your question is my favorite kind, because either option you go with, you’ve won. However, one option may indeed be better than the other.

First, let’s set the scene in this video, then dive deeper into your options…

How to decide

As I mentioned in the video, you can pay off your mortgage years early if you make two payment a month instead of one. In fact, I once detailed the pros and cons of a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year mortgage.

However, I also mentioned in the video: Some employers match a percentage of your 401(k) contributions up to a certain amount.

If your employer offers any kind of match, I suggest you alter your payroll deduction to the maximum it matches. Why do this over paying down the mortgage? Because you’re getting free money. This is part of my crusade to help employees make more money from their bosses.

Either way you go, Joe, you can’t go wrong!


Have a debt question?

Email your question to and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a  CPA, chairman of, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched I’m glad you’re here.

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