18 Smart Ways to Spend or Invest $1,000
Finding yourself with an extra stash of cash—whether it's a bonus, a gift, an inheritance or simply savings that have languished in a low-interest account— is a nice problem to have.
Finding yourself with an extra stash of cash—whether it's a bonus, a gift, an inheritance or simply savings that have languished in a low-interest account— is a nice problem to have. And you may have your own priorities for what to do with it: Pay off credit cards, add to your emergency fund, put it in an IRA or pay off your mortgage. If none of those things excite you, consider our ideas for how to put $1,000 to work.
Our suggestions range from buying government bonds to making your home "smarter" using new technology to donating to a Kickstarter project. Take a look.
Buy Government Bonds (Part 1)
When it comes to safety, nothing beats U.S. Treasury bonds. For as little as $100, you can buy Treasury notes with maturitiesranging from two to 10 years at www.treasurydirect.gov.
Treasuries maturing in three years yield 1.2% today. Interest from Treasuries is free of state and local income taxes.
- SEE ALSO: The Basics of Investing in Bonds
Buy Government Bonds (Part 2)
They may not be everyone's cup of tea, but you get a noticeably better yield on dollar-denominated Israel government bonds than you do on Treasuries. For example, three-year Sabra bonds, which require a $1,000 minimum, pay 2.2%. To buy, set up an account atwww.israelbonds.com.
Buy a Bunch of Mutual Funds
Thanks to new $100 minimum investments in most of the mutual funds on Charles Schwab's One-Source list, you can easily build a diversified portfolio of no-load funds for $1,000. Consider this package: Put $250 in Parnassus (symbol PARNX), a large-company fund with socially conscious screens, or the low-cost Schwab Total Market Index Fund (SWTSX).
Next, sock away $200 in Akre Focus (AKREX), which invests in companies with strong competitive advantages, and $150 in Parnassus Mid Cap (PARMX), which invests in midsize firms that pass Parnassus's social screens. For foreign stocks, invest $150 in FMI International (FMIJX), which hedges against currency fluctuations.
Put the final $250 into Doubleline Total Return Bond (DLTNX), which has done a superb job of balancing the risks of government-backed debt with the risks of non-agency mortgage bonds. All but the Invesco fund are members of the Kiplinger 25.
- USE OUR TOOL: Mutual Fund Finder
Stretch for Yield With Bonds
Get a 4.0% yield by buying six shares of Pimco Total Return Active (BOND, $105), two of iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond (EMB, $108) and eight of Market Vectors Fallen Angel High Yield Bond (ANGL, $25).
Buy an iPad Pro
You can work or play on the new iPad Pro ($799 for the 32-gigabyte, Wi-Fi-only version). Multitaskers will appreciate the 12.9-inch screen, which allows you to view two apps simultaneously. You'll take more vivid photos and videos and get fast downloads. Four embedded speakers create sharp sound that adapts to how you’re holding the device. The full-size Smart Keyboard ($169) snaps onto the tablet and doubles as a cover. To write or sketch with a natural feel, add the Apple Pencil ($99).
- SEE ALSO: The Mysteries of Cloud Storage Explained
Amp Up Your Car
If you're in the market for a new vehicle, for $1,000 or less you can make your car smarter and safer. For example, Honda Sensing bundles together lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation and forward-collision warning.
Splurge on a No Fuss Travel Experience
- A few key splurges can make air travel less of a hassle. Start by applying for Global Entry ($100 for five years), which will buy you a speedier trip through Customs when you take international trips and usually qualifies you for TSA PreCheck's lighter domestic security screenings as well.
- SEE ALSO: 26 Secrets to Save on Travel
Then buy your way into more than 850 airport lounges around the world with Priority Pass ($399 per year for the Prestige plan, which affords you free access to each lounge for preflight nibbles and spa treatments). Need to charge your tablet or phone at the airport? The new Bluesmart Carry-On ($399) has two USB ports, automatic locking and unlocking, and a built-in scale.
Finally, if your passport expires soon (some countries won't let you in with less than six months' validity) or you're running out of visa pages (you can no longer add them to your existing book), renew it for $110.
Go on a Cruise
- A grand goes further when you book a "repositioning" cruise—travel on a ship that is relocating to another locale between cruise seasons. With a repositioning cruise, passengers can sample different regions in one go and at a lower cost, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of CruiseCritic.com.
For example, the Celebrity Summit visits two Caribbean islands—St. Thomas and St. Maarten—and Bermuda during its eight-night journey from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Cape Liberty, N.J., in April. At a recent price of $749 per person for an ocean-view cabin, you save hundreds over the ship's regular Bermuda itinerary, which doesn't include Caribbean stopovers (airfare to San Juan not included).
Make Your Home Smarter
With a smartphone, you can boost the IQ of your home, too. (Except where noted, all these products work via apps for iPhones and Android phones.) Go keyless with Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt ($229), which allows you to unlock doors using a PIN as well as an app. If you pair it with an Apple device, Siri will do it (there's no app for Android devices).
Turn the heat up (or down) with the Ecobee3 or Nest Learning Thermostat (each is $249). Wireless remote sensors make cooling and heating decisions based on room temperature and occupancy. Get water-leak alerts with the Wally Home Water Leak Detection System ($299). It will also send alerts if it detects unhealthy mold.
Control the lights with an Insteon Keypad Dimmer Switch ($80). You can connect it to up to eight devices and dim lights using the physical switchboard or the virtual one on your smartphone. Cook remotely with the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker With Wemo ($130). Throw in the ingredients, set the temperature and monitor the cooking (or change the temperature or cook time) with your smartphone.
Remodel Your Home for Aging in Place
Add roll-out cabinet drawers. You'll never have to kneel or bend over to find stuff lost in the back of your cabinets. Rev-a-Shelf makes units in various widths and depths in chrome-plated steel with ball-bearing slides (from Home Depot). You could install 10 single-tier units and two two-tier units—good for pots and pans—for about $1,000, including installation by a handyman.
Join a Wine Club
Focus on your favorite wines or expand your repertoire—often for a lower cost per bottle than you could get elsewhere—and enjoy the convenience of home delivery, too. The Gold Medal Wine Club costs $719 plus shipping for four bottles a month for a year. It selects wines that have earned medals in major competitions and high ratings from national wine publications. Its Gold Series features wines from California boutique wineries.
- SEE ALSO: Worst Things to Buy at Warehouse Clubs
Host a Catered Dinner
- Relax while a chef prepares a fabulous meal in your home. Big City Chefs, available in major cities, offers themed or custom dinner parties. A "Tuscan Farmhouse Dinner" (one of nine themes) costs $775 for 10 guests; a custom four-course dinner costs $900. The price includes cleanup.
Upgrade Your Bike
Sure, you like to bike, but those steep hills and end-of-day commutes can be a slog. Solution? You could buy an electric bike for, say, $2,000 to $3,500. Better yet, add electric power to your pedal-powered ride with a lower-priced kit you install yourself.
One that wins high marks from Electricbikereview.com for its flexibility, affordable price and ease of installation is the Ebo Phantom Kit ($925 from Electric Bike Outfitters). The kit fits most standard bikes and comes with both pedal assist and a throttle override for when you need a burst of speed.
The battery, which is included, has a range of 15 to 20 miles using the throttle only, or 30 to 50 miles with pedal assist. You also get an LCD screen to keep you up-to-speed on your mileage, battery charge, speed and the level of assistance you’re using.
- USE OUR TOOL: How Much Can I Save Biking to Work?
Buy a Custom Suit
Bespoke suits, the last word in high-end menswear, run at least $3,500. But you can commission a custom-fit suit, which offers many of the same attributes, for as little as $1,000. A bespoke suit is made by a master tailor who creates a pattern based on a series of painstaking measurements, cuts the cloth and assembles the garment, and makes further adjustments once the suit is made.
With made-to-measure (or custom) suits, by companies such as Astor & Black and J. Hillburn, one of a team of trained clothiers is dispatched to your home or office or sets up in a hotel room to take measurements. Company tailors create the pattern, construct the suit and make minor adjustments, if necessary.
Sign Up for Concierge Medicine
Frustrated with long waits to get an appointment with your doctor, and short visits when you finally get there? Some doctors offer concierge services for just $60 to $75 per month, or $720 to $900 a year. These doctors generally keep their practices a bit larger than doctors who charge $2,000 to $4,000 a year for concierge services.
So-called direct primary care offers same-day appointments and longer visits, and it may also include tests in the office for no extra charge, plus discounts on prescription drugs, x-rays and lab work. Concierge medicine can also help you monitor care for an aging parent from a distance.
- SEE ALSO: Ways to Spend Less on Prescription Drugs
Buy Baseball Season Tickets
You can fill your whole summer with baseball for less than $1,000 if you buy season tickets to a minor-league team. For example, season tickets to the Danville, Va., Braves (the rookie team for the Atlanta Braves) cost $131 for adults and $105 for youth and senior citizens, so a family of four can go to all 34 home games for less than $500. Add four grandparents and you'll pay $892. (See www.milb.com for links to all minor-league teams.)
Fund Your Favorite Kickstarter Project
When you invest in a Kickstarter project, you don't receive equity in the venture. However, backers typically receive rewards in exchange for their support, and if you kick in $1,000, you can get some pretty cool stuff. A recent campaign to bring back the popular TV series "Mystery Science Theater 3000" offered donors who pledged $1,000 two VIP tickets to MST3K's New York City premiere and cast party. Kickstarter campaigns are all-or-nothing, so if the project fails to meet its funding goal, you won't be charged.
Start a Family Foundation
For $1,000, you may be able to contribute to a Community Foundation's General Fund, which is a great way to help out a lot of very small charities in your city. To find a local foundation, use Community Foundation's locator tool.
Turn Your Grandkids Into Investors
Giving shares in a public company is a great way to introduce kids to the markets. With $1,000, you can give shares worth $50 to 20 kids. If the recipients are younger than age 18, you’ll need to set up a custodial account. Several low-cost brokerage firms, including TD Ameritrade, offer custodial accounts with low minimums, no annual fees and low (or no) commissions. Alternatively, you can use SparkGift, a Web site that lets you buy fractional shares in more than 6,000 investments, including individual stocks. SparkGift will create a gift certificate. The cost is $2.95 per transaction plus 3% of the gifted amount.