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Only you can answer the ultimate question or retirement, house, etc, but here's some helping info.

Banks are limited to 100k on FDIC. However, brokerage houses with money market mutual funds (say Fidelity or Vanguard for example) are not. They are self insured and thus will guarantee a higher account limit. The risk you run is that the brokerage house or insurance company goes bankrupt.

To through off 4.5k/month from interest alone, you'd need to have around $1.1 million invested with a return of 5%. That's a cold hard fact. The only way to change that number is adjust your living needs/wants. Since this is money needed over the next 3 years (i.e. less than 5) investing in stocks is very impractical. Imagine having started this scenario one year ago and having placed some in an S&P index (or any other stocks). That money is now at best cut by one third, good bye dream (or at least a serious portion).

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