How Would You Spend an Extra $1,000?

A grand might not sound like all that much, but our readers sure know how to stretch it.

What would you do if you had an extra $1,000? We put that question to our visitors, and they told us by a wide margin—65% to 17%­—that they’d be more likely to put it toward their kids’ or grandkids’ college fund than to donate it to charity. They’re slightly more likely to invest it in the stock market than to stash it in a savings account or CD (46% to 41%). Given a choice between paying off debt or building a retirement fund, they’d go after the debt—56% to 31%. And if they wanted to splurge, they’d much rather go on vacation than shop—62% to 18%.

What really impressed me was the range of responses when people were asked to fill in their own ideas. A number of them had charitable impulses: “I’d like to throw a party in the children’s wing of a local hospital,” said Jasmine Ho of Somerset, N.J. Leonard from Detroit said simply, “I’d give it to my brother.”

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Janet Bodnar

Janet Bodnar is editor-at-large of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, a position she assumed after retiring as editor of the magazine after eight years at the helm. She is a nationally recognized expert on the subjects of women and money, children's and family finances, and financial literacy. She is the author of two books, Money Smart Women and Raising Money Smart Kids. As editor-at-large, she writes two popular columns for Kiplinger, "Money Smart Women" and "Living in Retirement." Bodnar is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and is a member of its Board of Trustees. She received her master's degree from Columbia University, where she was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics Journalism.