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Smart Buying

What $1,000 Can Do

It only takes a grand to make a difference in your portfolio or your life.

Since the late 1980s, Kiplinger's Personal Finance has been offering readers ideas on how a little bit of money can accomplish a lot: fight poverty, finance an adventure or buy great stocks and funds. We go for a mix of the practical and interesting, and hopefully both.

This year, we have a slew of new ideas to make the best use of $1,000. For the past few weeks we've introduced a new batch of ideas. This week, for our fourth and final installment, we show you WAYS TO DO GOOD from buying school supplies for kids in the U.S. to lending money to entrepreneurs overseas. And check out previous weeks' installments on smart ways to invest your money, ways to improve your life and ways to reward yourself.

Plus, we want to know how you would spend a grand. We're offering $1,000 to the person who can come up with the best way to spend or invest the money. Check out our ideas below, and enter our contest with your suggestion to put that money to work -- or play. (Read about last year's winner.)

Be a philanthropist

Help Teachers Help Students
Donate materials or experiences to a schoolroom in need.

Do Good With a Donor-Advised Fund
Budding philanthropists can invest their money and give to their favorite charities.

Fight Poverty With Micro Loans
Make the world a better place with small donations to struggling entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Reward yourself

Stock Your Cellar With Wines of the World
Treat your palate with these four great wine values from around the globe.

Rent a Mascot
Your favorite character can perform at your next party, bingo night, school assembly, bar mitzvah or wedding.


Buy Some Safety for a Young Driver
Bolster your teen's driving skills and confidence with a training class.

Digitize Tapes and LPs
That pile of vinyl albums and videotapes are yearning to nest in your computer, iPod, CD or DVD collection.

Film a Mini Movie
You can make a professional-quality film for less than $1,000 with the right equipment.

Improve your life

Boost Your Career With Professional Classes
Beefing up your skills can land you a raise or a promotion.

Let Time Cut Future College Costs
Contributions to a state 529 plan can grow to big bucks by the time Junior graduates from high school.

Invest in Some College Advice
Worried about getting your child into college or grad school? Hire an admissions consultant.

Take an Energy-Saving Tumble
A front-loading clothes washer will cut your water bill and energy use.

Earn 18% Guaranteed
Pay down your credit card for a surefire way to improve your finances.


Invest in your future

Make a Bet on Three Cheap Stocks
Shares from these three companies sell for less than they're worth, and they are poised for a turnaround.

Land Nice Yields
These international closed-end funds can give your income a boost.

Ease Yourself Into Overseas Stocks
Exchange-traded funds provide a cheap way to diversify your portoflio into international investments.

Add Glitter to Your Portfolio
Hedge against inflation and a falling dollar with these gold and silver investments.

Start Small with Top Stock Pickers
These six mutual funds with stellar managers carry low minimum investment requirements.

ALSO: Check Out Our Podcast, Behind Our $1,000 Cover Story