It’s not often that we find ourselves with some spare money. But, if you have $1,000 at your disposal from diligent saving or a little windfall, there are a number of ways you can use it to benefit your future. The key with having a little extra cash is to be purposeful in how you spend it. It’s way too easy to let this dollar amount turn into a couple of extra dinners out or a few late night shopping sprees. Instead, chart a “job” for this money and put it to work for you.
Pay Off Your Debt
Your credit score is one of the most valuable “assets” you have. And taking a big chunk of money and applying it to your debt does wonders for improving your financial situation! This can be student debt or other consumer debt, like credit cards. You can even make an extra payment or so on any other liabilities. Paying down your mortgage or a car payment helps reduce the overall amount of interest you might pay over the life of that loan. Debt pay downs can take many forms, but some people find the greatest psychological satisfaction in paying down a big chunk on the credit card with the lowest balance.
Invest in Your Income Streams
Setting aside money spend on your career development is always a good idea. Learning for work can take many forms. Your $1,000 can get you registered for a fun conference that supports your side hustle and lets you expand your professional network. It can also get you started on some really credible certificate opportunities. Depending on your field, you may find it worth it to keep adding to your educational profile after you’ve been out of school for a few years. In these cases (or even if you’ve decided the college route isn’t for you) a formalized, professional certification can read well on a resume.
Take a Vacation
Yes, a vacation is an investment! A little break is essential to your wellbeing. It helps ensure that you can show up as your best self in all roles you play in life. Done with intention, a vacation can also help expand your horizons and help reignite your adventurous side. If $1,000 doesn’t quite foot the entire bill, use this money as a down payment or for just the plane tickets on a larger holiday further in advance. The partial booking will give you another short-term savings goal to work toward!
Begin Language Learning
This deserves its own separate category of lifelong learning because it tops so many of our respective bucket lists! It’s also an exciting space to invest $1,000 because it straddles the line of the kind of training that feels like taking vitamins and the kind that feels like a hobby. Even better, if you’ve already studied a language but could use some brushing up, use this money to hire a tutor.
You may also decide that with enough self-study, you’d be ready to use some of that money toward a certification program in your language of choice. Again, this type of formality with your efforts is a total resume booster! It can also position you well if you’re interested in an overseas job at some point in your career. Even if the language you speak isn’t where you’d be headed, it demonstrates your interest in other cultures and ability to make an effort in another language.
Hire a Financial Professional
Your financial picture is always changing a bit, but a really thorough, strategic meeting with a financial advisor can actually have a long-term impact on your financial goals. They can give you truly professional and well-founded advice on navigating your goals, how to structure your investments, and how to plan for major life events like having a family or buying a home. Other professionals that might fall into this category are lawyers and accountants.
For example, it might not bet top of mind if you’re becoming a new mom, but working with a legal professional and putting a will in place is an important investment in your family’s future.
Invest In Your Health
Investing in your health can take many forms. Start with the obvious and see where your day-to-day fitness routine could use a shot in the arm. Should you upgrade your home gym? Not only can you build a home gym on the cheap, but $1,000 would let you supplement it with some pretty exciting specialized equipment or quality extras like good running shoes.
Wellness spending might take other forms. Investing in some personal therapy or couples counseling sessions are another important way that you can use this money. Often times resources can be the constraining factor that keeps people from seeking some outside assistance that could go a long way in positively shaping their relationships. Wellness is not all workouts! Using this money for investments in your health can be a holistic effort.
Start an Emergency Fund
Any type of savings is an excellent use of $1,000! An emergency fund is a great way to combat life’s expenses that seem to pop out of nowhere. Think anything from car repairs to unexpected medical bills — when life happens and you unexpectedly lose a job or find yourself in any other highly expensive and stressful situation, you’ll be glad to have a stash available in a pinch. And if you already have an emergency fund, the next step is a solid retirement fund.
If you’re not already saving for retirement, that’s the perfect place to start. (Not sure how much is enough? Chat with a professional or start here for our take on first steps.) Check out what plans your work has in place or visit an investment specialist for their take on your best options. You know my time value of money obsession. If you have anything to save, save it today. Your future self will thank you!
Add Value to Your Home
You don’t have to own a house or undertake a massive renovation project to add a little value to your nest. If you have some spare money, take a look around your day-to-day space and see what part of your world could use an upgrade. Maybe it’s time to invest in a good mattress (hello beauty sleep!) or upgrade your home office equipment in advance of a new job search. If you do own your home, so many aesthetic details can be upgraded on a budget! Since homes get much of their value from bathrooms and kitchens, start there with new hardware or an appliance upgrade.