I am 69 years old, have $200,000 in a savings account, and $1000 a month in social Security. I have $30,000 in car debt. I rent, but really would like to own some type of housing. Really worried about out living my savings.

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    How old are you? What state do you live in? Does your county have very high property taxes? Why do you have $30K in vehicle debt? – RonJohn Jul 21 '19 at 14:04
  • This seems pretty broad. Can you narrow the scope to a specific concern that someone could answer in a few paragraphs? That would probably include adding more information. Also, you tagged the question 'etf'. Is your savings entirely in ETFs? – glibdud Jul 21 '19 at 14:07
  • Please use the "Contact" link at the bottom of the page. You now have 2 accts, and should request they be merged. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jul 21 '19 at 17:20
  • Are you working/able to work? You can earn ~$17k/year without impacting social security benefit. – Hart CO Jul 21 '19 at 17:39
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    Not really an answer but have you considered getting a new single-wide mobile home ($20-$50k)? If you place it away from trees then it should easily last 20 years without major issues. I think that if you go with a traditional house then you will be quite house poor – MonkeyZeus Jul 22 '19 at 13:54

None of the answers you get will be "good", since there are no Good Answers for someone in your situation.

  1. Sell the car and replace it with something in the $5-10K range.
  2. Move the $200K to a bank that pays "reasonable" interest. Ally, Marcus and Synchrony are good examples of such banks.
  3. Live "lean": smaller apartment (or move in with one of your children), cut out HBO/etc, cook instead of microwave prepared foods, etc.
  4. The only way you might be able to buy a house is to move to a poor rural area. Even then you'll owe insurance and some property tax, and have to repair your house.

It is the risk - return problem. Banks are safe ( low risk) and have terribly low returns. I suggest Vanguard funds; Their site will show choices and relative risk/reward. Car loans are also a ripoff, you may find you paid all interest up front so there is no advantage to paying it off/ selling the car. I am old and making about 8% but like most investors , I have had some serious ups and downs to learn from. I don't think you can afford that (common stocks). Vanguard Money Market is paying 2.27% today, it is as safe as a bank. Fidelity is also good.

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    Does Vanguard's Money Market carry a government guarantee? Have you never hear of money market funds 'breaking the buck'? – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jul 21 '19 at 17:23
  • Vanguard's Money Market is not FDIC insured, but it invests in very safe securities, and it's backed by Vanguard, so it's very safe. The US government would have to default on its debt before that's a problem. Inflation risk is bigger concern for a retiree on a fixed income, so look into the short-term inflation protected funds Vanguard offers for a more stable (after-inflation) income. – wide.writing.immediately Jul 22 '19 at 18:08

This is a very tough question because $200k is not a lot and $1k/month is also not a lot. Getting a mortgage for under $1k per month will be quite hard (property value of $100k or slightly above with a good interest rate).
Buying a house of similar value ($100k) cash could work, but you'd still be liable for repairs, taxes and homeowner's insurance.

On balance, depending on credit, I would assume a mortgage is slightly better. because you'd only invest about 10% of your savings, so if anything catastrophic happened you'd still have emergency savings in the bank.

Questions to figure out first:
1) How long do you intend to live there ? I assume asking the question means forever.
2) Are you investing the remaining money ? Even a high-yield savings account will obviously not beat the interest you'd pay on a mortgage. (at this point, if you haven't invested your money don't start. The risk is prohibitive considering the probability of needing the money at any time)
3) What are property values like in your area and also what are rents like ? It's possible that renting is cheaper even fairly long term.

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