Where to check up on appeals for charitable donations; Selling house vs. investment

I own a house valued at $120,000. When it is sold, my former husband will receive half of the proceeds. I receive the rental ($640 per month) and I pay for upkeep and the mortgage (5 1/2 percent with $18,000 left to pay). Should I sell the house and invest my share? In what? I earn a small salary but have no savings, four children and half interest in the house we live in. D.C.

You have almost answered your own question when you ask how you should invest your half of the proceeds from the house. There is no easy investment that promises to appreciate as much as the equity in your rental house. Presumably, and your letter omitted this information, the $640 per month rent more than covers the taxes, insurance, and mortgage payments. Certainly, no real estate is available with a mortgage carrying 5 1/2 percent interest.

Unless you badly need the cash or your divorce settlement places a time limit on the sale of the house, you can probably do as well holding onto it as selling and investing your half of the proceeds. You have a built-in tax shelter, and your gain in the future will be taxed at long-term capital gain rates.

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