You can do a lot with $1,000. In fact, we came up with 39
surprising ways to use a grand. For example, you can grow your nest
egg or build your brand, feather your nest or nurture a
relationship, or just invest in yourself. Read on for more
Grow Your Investments
Consider these funds, stocks and
for your portfolio.And open a Roth IRA, if you don't already have
Be a Philanthropist
Here's how you can start your own charitable fund, give to a
classroom, volunteer on vacation and invest in a new company.
Spiff Up Your Home
With a grand, you can convert a fireplace to gas, add a backsplash
with pizazz, install a putting green or buy a fire-resistant home
Buy or Sell Smart
If you're buying a home, prepay interest on a mortgage to bring
down the rate. If you're selling, enlist the help of a home
Invest in Your Love Life
Splurge on a night at a great hotel, take a couple's cruise or
nurture your marriage with therapy sessions.
Advance Your Career
Polish your professional image, take technology classes or prepare
for a post-retirement career.
Invest in Yourself
Buy a bicycle and bike to work, self-publish a book, hire a
personal trainer or learn a new language.
Improve Your Finances
You can't go wrong by paying down debt, building an emergency fund
or hiring a lawyer to draft a comprehensive will for you.
Grow your investments
Buy two great funds with low minimums
Put a little extra cash to work in a couple of funds with low fees
and low minimums.
Homestead Small Company Stock
), a member of the Kiplinger 25, requires only $500 and charges
just 1.06% a year in expenses. The fund's 17.9% three-year
annualized return (through November 30) outpaced the Russell 2000
index by an average of four percentage points per year.
Nicholas Equity Income
), which has a $500 minimum and a 0.79% expense ratio, invests in
dividend-paying firms of all sizes, with a goal of delivering a
higher yield than Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. The fund's
recent yield of 2.9% is indeed higher than the S&P's 2.3%
yield, and over the past five years the fund returned 6.8%
annualized, compared with 1.3% for the S&P 500.
Take a flier on low-priced stocks
All three of these stocks sell for less than $10 a share, meaning
you can buy 100 shares of one company, or a mix of two or three,
for less than a grand. Prices are as of November 30.
To make tiny semiconductors you need a super-clean manufacturing
environment because a single speck of dust can destroy a chip.
) offers contamination-control, shipping and storage services.
Softness in the semiconductor business made for a rough 2012, but
analysts expect earnings to resume rising in 2013. At $8.96, the
stock sells for 15 times estimated 2013 earnings.
) builds helicopters used for firefighting and heavy-construction
projects that are capable of lifting up to 20,000 pounds per load.
At $7.62, EAC sells for just 5 times estimated 2013 earnings. D.A.
Davidson & Co. analyst J.B. Groh thinks the stock will hit $10
within a year.
), like many early-stage biotech com�panies, is not
profitable. But UBS analyst Matthew Roden thinks the company has a
formula likely to prove crucial in the fight against many types of
cancer. The treatment, which targets stem cells that spread cancer,
is still untested and could take more than a year to develop, but
Roden thinks the stock, now $6.81, could reach $20 within two
Build an ETF portfolio
With exchange-traded funds, you can put together a well-rounded
portfolio for less than $1,000. Start with 16 shares of
Vanguard Total World Stock
, $48), which tracks an index of nearly all the globe's publicly
traded companies, then add two shares of
Pimco Total Return
, $110), an actively managed ETF that invests primarily in
high-quality U.S. bonds. Not only will you hold positions in almost
4,000 stocks-including stakes in emerging-markets and small-company
stocks-but you'll also benefit from the investment ideas of Bill
Gross, one of the world's most renowned bond managers. This mix
will give you a 78% allocation to stocks and a 22% allocation to
bonds, appropriate for a long-term investor in his or her thirties
Open a Roth IRA
If you invest $1,000 in a fund that earns an 8% annual return and
continue to invest $100 a month, in 30 years you'll have nearly
$160,000. Withdrawals are off-limits to the IRS after you turn
59�. TD Ameritrade requires no minimum investment for a
Roth IRA, and many funds have low minimums for Roths.
For 2013, you may contribute to a Roth if your income is less
than $127,000 if you're single ($188,000 for couples who file
jointly). If you earn more than that, you could convert a
traditional IRA to a Roth. You must pay taxes on any pretax
contributions and earnings.
Give a kid a jump-start on retirement
As long as your child has earned income of at least $1,000, you can
give him or her that amount to invest in a Roth IRA. Target-date
retirement funds are good choices for a young adult's Roth. The
funds' mix of stocks and bonds gradually becomes more conservative
as the investor nears retirement. Vanguard's target-date funds have
some of the best returns and lowest expenses in the category.
Be a philanthropist
Start your own charitable fund
A number of community foundations let you funnel as little as
$1,000 a year into donor-advised funds, sometimes called acorn
funds, that build value over time and let you choose the recipient
of your largesse. You contribute cash, stocks or other property-and
take a tax deduction for your contribution each year-until you
reach a certain threshold, typically $5,000 or $10,000. After that,
you recommend an IRS-approved charity to the community foundation
trustees. Although you no longer have direct control over the gift,
the foundation usually respects your wishes. Community foundations
with annual minimums of $1,000 or less include the Eau Claire
(Wisconsin) Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of
Washington County (Maryland). You can find a directory of community
foundations nationwide at
Give to a classroom
What better way to spend your charitable dollars than to help
teachers help kids? At
, you get your pick of teacher-proposed projects, from outfitting a
media center with computer chairs to buying magazine subscriptions
for seventh-graders. You can donate to one project or spread the
wealth among several; Donors-Choose makes the purchase and sends it
to the teacher. For your contribution, which is tax-deductible,
you'll get pictures of the students and feedback on how the project
is helping them.
Volunteer on vacation
Use your next vacation to give something back. The Sierra Club
offers environmental and historical-preservation trips throughout
the country starting at about $400. For example, the program fee is
$545 for a weeklong habitat-restoration project in May to remove
non-native plants in Point Reyes National Seashore, in California.
Round-trip flights from Washington, D.C., or New York City to San
Francisco run about $300. Meals and accommodations in a rustic
boathouse are included. Other weeklong projects include wildlife
habitat work in Arizona's Altar Valley ($695) and restoration of
historic homesteads in Antietam National Battlefield, in Maryland
Be an angel
Thanks to the government's approval in 2012 of "crowdfunding" as a
way for businesses to raise capital, it's easier than ever (not to
mention cheaper) to invest in new companies.
allows you to give money to entrepreneurial college graduates from
a pool of 30 universities, including Harvard, Stanford and MIT. You
can invest in $100 increments in one "upstart" or as many as you
choose. You'll receive a modest portion of the company's income --
up to an annual rate of return of 14.99% -- or ten years (or lose
your stake if the project goes under). You can also contribute to
, which focuses more on creative individuals who want to raise
money to produce films, music and art. The biggest difference from
Upstart: Projects keep 100% of the funding, so there's no financial
return to backers.
Spiff up your home
Convert a fireplace to gas
Don't want the muss and fuss of a wood fire in your fireplace?
Install gas logs. For $600, you can get 2-foot-long,
realistic-looking ceramic logs in your choice of wood type and
arrangement (stacked neatly or askew), including a gas burner (
). Installation costs $200 to $350, and it's about $15 to $25 per
foot to run a line to service the gas logs.
Add a backsplash with pizazz
An average, 10-by-10-foot kitchen requires about 33 square feet of
backsplash coverage. You'll pay about $28 per square foot,
in�cluding installation, for midrange-quality "subway"
tiles (like those used in New York City subway stations) or for
basic-quality mosaic glass tile. Money left over? Update your sink
), cabinet hardware (
) or lights (
Channel Jack Nicklaus
Improve your short game (indoors or out) with a
($995 plus shipping). You get a 4-by-12-foot swath of Mirage
TourPutt, a synthetic turf used by Ping at its testing facilities.
TourPutt looks and acts like bent-grass turf, so your ball will
roll perfectly straight in any direction and a chip shot will land
and roll naturally. It requires no messy infill of sand or
pelletized rubber for the grass to stand straight. The turf lays
atop a 2.5-inch-high base of interlocking panels. The package comes
with two cups and flags; spend another $17 for side moldings to
keep your ball from falling overboard. The whole thing assembles or
disassembles in less than a half-hour.
Keep cash safe in a safe
When electrical power goes down, so do ATMs and merchants' ability
to accept debit and credit cards. That's why you should have enough
cash at home -- preferably in tens and twenties -- to cover the
cost of a week's worth of groceries and emergency supplies, as well
as gas and a motel room in case of an evacuation. A rule of thumb
is to have $500 to $1,000 on hand. But where to safeguard it, as
well as important documents and perhaps some valuables? You'll pay
about $200 to $500 at
for a home safe that's fire-resistant (rated for one hour of fire)
with a bit more than 1 cubic foot of space. For a two-hour rating
and 2 cubic feet of space, the price jumps to about $700.
Buy or sell smart
Buy down the mortgage rate
On a $200,000, 30-year fixed-rate loan, $1,000 paid at closing as
prepaid interest will typically buy down the rate by 0.125%. That
would save $5,168 in interest over the life of the mortgage. When
you're loan shopping, ask first for a rate with no points (a point
is 1% of the loan amount), then ask how much the lender will adjust
the rate per point.
Stage to sell
A home stager can boost the appeal, and the sale price, of your
home. Stagers declutter and rearrange furniture to improve traffic
flow and make rooms appear more spacious. You can find a stager at
. Stagers charge $250 to $500 for a walk-through and consultation;
they generally charge $50 to $150 an hour for additional services,
and $500 to $1,500 a month for rental of furniture and
Splurge on romance
A quick way to accomplish couples therapy (or celebrate Valentine's
Day): Spend $1,000 on a night at a great hotel with a terrific
The Inn at Little Washington
, a five-star inn in rural Washington, Va., is famous for its
world-class restaurant. Saturday prices bust the $1,000 budget, but
a Friday-night stay with a prix-fixe dinner for two comes in at
, in Chetek, Wis., is a haute-rustic resort on 300 wooded acres.
You get a fireplace, a private deck and a lake view. The Treetop
Cottage runs $695 a night; a prix-fixe dinner for two costs $150.
, in Woodinville, Wash., has a 2,500-square-foot spa and two
acclaimed restaurants. A three-course dinner for two with a bottle
of wine at the bistro-style Barking Frog costs about $200; rooms
start at $239. Total: $439.
Nurture your marriage
Getting through a rough patch, or just deepening your relationship,
may require help from a licensed marriage and family therapist. A
one-hour session ranges from $75 to $200 and averages $100,
according to the National Directory of Marriage and Family
Counseling. Treatment typically runs 12 weeks, but ten sessions, at
$100 each, should put you on the right track. To find a therapist
in your area, go to
Take a vacation for two
Whoever calls it "flyover country" hasn't teamed his way through
forests, between mountains and across rivers on a cross-country
train trip. On the
, you can journey on Amtrak from Chicago to San Francisco in about
50 hours. When two passengers share a sleeping car, both pay a rail
fare but they split the cost of the room. We found fares for about
$899 one way, including a shared roomette. Spend your extra $100 on
an intimate meal in San Francisco or put it toward your return
Rekindle romance with a cruise holiday
We found a five-night trip for two, including an evening in Miami
and four nights on a
Bahamas cruise ship
, starting at $1,045 (including airfare from New York's LaGuardia,
plus taxes and fees) at
. Your itinerary acquaints you with Miami's
nightlife and gives you a chance to enjoy the Bahama classics,
including snorkeling and strolling along white sand beaches.
Build your own rear-seat entertainment system with two iPad 2
Wi-Fi tablets (16 GB; $399 each) and headrest mounts. The Griffin
Technology Cinema Seat mount is just $12 on Amazon. More heavy-duty
mounts, such as the TouCoul CV1002 CoolVue and GripDaddy v2ARM
(both $60), attach with brackets and have extensions, so you could
place one screen between the front seats. Invest in two 6-foot
charge cables ($6 each) and a dual car-charging port, such as
Energizer's Universal USB Charger ($15), so that you never run out
of juice. You can cut the cost by $400 if you go Android instead.
The Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD are each $199. Or
buy a refurbished tablet; they're tested to meet manufacturer
Advance your career
Build your brand
Job hunting or not, you can stay poised for new opportunities --
and boost your standing at the office -- by polishing your
professional image. A career adviser, such as a counselor or coach,
can help with matters such as updating your
r�sum�, networking and identifying strengths
you can showcase in the workplace and in interviews. Costs vary by
region and adviser, but you might pay about $500 for a few sessions
with a career coach. Consider hiring a photographer to take
professional headshots (about $200); use your favorite photograph
on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for a cohesive
online presence. Want to share your expertise on a blog or personal
Web site? You can create one free using a platform such as
. But for $99 a year, you can upgrade to the WordPress Value
Bundle, which includes a domain name of your choice,
high-definition video uploads and custom design options. Those
looking for work may want to invest in a LinkedIn Job Seeker
Premium account ($180 for six months). Among its benefits are five
monthly "InMail" messages, which you can use to contact anyone on
LinkedIn. Need business cards? Design a card at a site such as
, where you'll pay $15 for 500 premium matte cards.
Awaken the geek within
Many community colleges offer classes that could help you learn the
technical skills you need to get ahead in your job (or find a
better one). For example, Montgomery College, a community college
with three campuses in Montgomery County, near Washington, D.C.,
offers more than 100 technology classes, ranging from digital
literacy to programming for mobile devices. For county residents,
your $1,000 will cover tuition and fees for seven credits.
Prepare for a post-retirement career
Association of Enrolled Agents
There's a certificate program for just about every second-act
career imaginable, from landscape design to writing grant
proposals, says Kerry Hannon, author of
Great Jobs for Everyone 50+.
The International Fitness Professionals Association offers a
senior fitness specialist
certificate for $479, which leaves plenty left over for new
exercise equipment. You could find a second career as a
geriatric care manager
, a person who helps seniors navigate their health care options.
The application, handbook and exam to become a certified care
manager costs $270. You can use the rest of your money to buy two
years of membership ($345 per year) in the
Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
Invest in yourself
Buy a bicycle and ride to work
bicycling commuter cost calculator
Self-publish a book
Maybe you've dreamed of seeing your name on the cover of a novel or
sharing your expertise in a book. Making a paper or digital version
of your masterpiece is free at Amazon's
(the publisher takes a percentage of your sales), but you'll have
to pay if you want help with editing and design. Among
CreateSpace's services, for example, is the $728 Total Design
Freedom Standard package, in which a professional team designs the
book's cover and interior based on your input. Tack on
Comprehensive Copyediting for $160 (up to 10,000 words; 1.6 cents
per word thereafter).
Hire a personal trainer
Expand your language skills (and impress your friends!) with
lessons in Mandarin Chinese, the world's most widely spoken
language. Beijing Language and Culture University's four-week
language programs for international students cost as little as $950
for tuition and dorm accommodations. You'll pay extra for the
application fee (about $95), airfare and food. For more
Closer to home, try a 12-month subscription to Rosetta Stone's
TOTALe Online (regularly $299, but look for specials at
You can't go wrong using an extra thousand bucks for one of
these personal finance staples:
Pay down debt.
If you pay, say, a credit card balance with an 18% interest rate,
you get an 18% return -- plus the priceless feeling of being more
in control of your finances.
Add to an emergency fund.
Or start one, if you don't have one yet. Ideally, your account will
eventually have enough to cover at least six months of
Write a will.
A lawyer will charge about $300 for a simple will. You could pay
$1,000 for a more comprehensive estate plan that includes a living
will or health care directive and a power of attorney.
This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance
magazine. For more help with your personal finances and
subscribe to the magazine
. It might be the best investment you ever make.