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Got $100 to spend? Here’s 10 ways to use your money and help your bottom line:
1. Open a savings account
The interest earned on savings accounts is small, but the peace of mind they can bring is huge. Every dollar saved is like a kernel of security for when the unexpected happens. Consider one of the online banks for higher rates. Here’s a tool from Nerdwallet that can help in choosing a savings account. Then use your $100 to start it!
2. Pay down debt
When debt carries interest, every dollar put towards it automatically reduces, not just the balance, but also the amount of interest charged going forward. So putting your $100 towards debt will save you exponentially more in the long run.
3. Invest for retirement
What?! Yes, there are a few places we can invest our $100. For example, with only $100 we can open one of several target date index funds with Schwab and save for retirement. Even with a 401k at work, it could be worth considering also doing an IRA Roth to grow after-tax dollars for retirement. The process is easier than it seems and, if there’s confusion, I bet they’ll be happy to help along the way.
The Schwab Target Index Funds, for example, carry really low expenses – 0.13% (yes, the decimal is in the right place!). Why is this important? Check out this SEC bulletin on low cost investing and how much it can save over the years.
4. Save for a child’s college
If there are children in your life that may go to college one day, consider opening a 529 college savings account. Many of them have no minimum required to open. You can buy directly from a state, avoiding some third party fees, and you don’t have to buy from your state.
Click here for an easy to follow guide from Clark.com on how 529 plans work
Click here for a list of required minimums to open by state plan from Savingforcollege.com
5. Change your bulbs to LEDs
A quick online search and I found a 4-pack of LED bulbs at Target for about $10. These bulbs will help save on our electric bill, meaning more money in our pockets (i.e., more money for saving and/or investing). Check out this calculator from LED Waves to see how much LEDs can reduce energy costs.
6. Buy a toaster oven
Yes, a toaster oven. Given their small size, toaster ovens use less power to cook than conventional ovens, saving energy every time they’re used instead of a conventional oven. While they vary in size, contrary to their name, they are large enough that they can do more than just toast. I’ve managed to cook 6 stuffed peppers in mine.
7. Buy new walking or running shoes
And then get out and move. Health care is expensive. With a new pair of walking or running shoes, you’re ready to start a new, healthy habit that could even prevent some illnesses from costing lots later. No need to join an expensive gym to reap the benefits – just head outside.
8. Get a streaming set top box or streaming stick
9. Install water aerators
Aerators are cheap – they can be found for under $5 and can help save water by aerating the stream. Some can reduce the water flow by about 30%, helping reduce the water bill.
10. New power strips
Electronics and appliances continue to use energy even when they’re “off.” According to the Energy Department, this accounts for 5%-10% of our energy bills each year. Costing on average an additional $100 in energy costs. Using a power strip to cut off the power to them when not in use can help save this.