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Dear Liz: My husband and I recently inherited $100,000. We are trying to figure out how best to use the money and are fielding different opinions from people trying to help.

One person recommended we invest in a certain stock, and another advocates certificates of deposit. Other people say to buy property because prices will never be this low again, so we’re thinking about buying a duplex to rent out.

Unfortunately, we’re self-employed and business has been slow for both of us, so we will need to keep some liquid to live on. How can we invest the rest wisely?

Answer: For now, leave all the money in a safe, accessible account such as an FDIC-insured bank account. Don’t spend any of the money until you have a plan for all of it.

Think long and hard before you use the money for living expenses. If your businesses aren’t providing enough income, maybe it’s time to look for other employment.

Ideally, you’d use this wealth that someone else created to enhance your own net worth. That means using it to pay off debt or to buy assets that can appreciate over time.

Putting it all in a single stock, though, is almost certainly too risky unless you already have a massive investment portfolio. In general, you never want to have more than 10 percent of your investments in a single stock. A limit of 5 percent is even more prudent.

A better choice might be to invest in well-diversified mutual funds or exchange-traded funds.

Long-term real estate ownership can enhance your wealth, but be sure to thoroughly research what’s involved in being a landlord before you buy rental property. There are probably landlord associations in your area you could join that can provide educational resources and networking opportunities with more experienced investors.

Dear Liz: My wife and I plan to buy a condo next year, so we want to keep our credit scores as high as possible. One of her credit cards, an airline mileage card, has doubled its annual fee and she’d like to close the account but we’re worried about the damage to her credit scores. She has excellent credit but not a terribly long credit history.

Can she switch cards while maintaining a continuous credit history with this provider? Or would this switch require her to cancel the existing account and start a new line of credit with this provider?

Answer: Most people with good credit worry too much about the effect of closing a single account. You’re probably right to worry, though, because her credit history is short and you’ll be in the market for a mortgage soon.

She should call her issuer and ask if her history with this card could be transferred to the new account. If not, it might be worth hanging on to the card until you’ve gotten the mortgage you want.

Dear Liz: You once said in a column that employers sometimes check your credit report but that they had to let you know if that was a factor in denying you a job. I think employers routinely check credit reports and don’t say anything to you about it.

I have two masters’ degrees but am having trouble finding employment, and I think it’s due to my credit, which is in the toilet at the moment. I don’t see my situation getting any better unless I can get a job commensurate with my education and skills so I can start to repair things. Any ideas?

Answer: You’re assuming employers are a lot more interested in you than they probably are.

It’s possible an employer would break the law by pulling your credit without your written consent.

But with unemployment as high as it is — there are currently about six unemployed workers for each job opening, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — it’s far more likely that your applications are among the many that employers are simply ignoring.

Liz Pulliam Weston is the author of the book “Your Credit Score: Your Money and What’s at Stake.” Questions for possible inclusion in her column may be sent to 3940 Laurel Canyon Blvd., No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or via the “Contact Liz” form at www.asklizweston.com.


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