We're thrilled to present this smart Business Insider story here on Savvy!
At first blush, $100 is only $100. It's so easy to fritter away on eating out, entertainment, or booking a trip online.
But you should never underestimate how far $100 can go, even in this economy.
"It's smarter to put that money away because once it's in your pocket, it's pretty much gone," says Joel Larsen, a certified financial planner based in Davis, Calif.
No matter where you are in your financial life, we've compiled 15 tips to help you stretch that Benjamin.
Open a college savings account
"A lot of people will say, 'it's only $100,'" says Larsen, but if you were to save $100 a month over 20 years at a 7% rate of return, you would amass $52,092.67. Impressive, right?
Depending on your financial picture, you'll need to shop around to find the right plan based on investment performances, expenses, and tax exemptions.
Andrew Schrage, founder of the personal finance site, Money Crashers, recommends looking into a 529 College Savings plan set up by governments or colleges to help parents save.
"One of the primary benefits of a 529 savings plan is that it offers tax protection from the federal government," he says. "Also, you may be eligible for tax protection from the state government."
Read on for more.
Pay down your debt
It may not be all you need to pay off your entire credit card bill, but $100 is a good start, says Schrage.
"If you have a credit card that charges 20% in interest, you want to pay that off as fast as possible," he says. "This option would be like putting $100 into an investment that paid a 20% annual return compounded monthly. There is no sense paying the minimum payments on high-interest debt and digging yourself in a deeper hole!"
Stock up on frozen food
"In order to do this successfully, you should understand the sales cycle that your grocery store runs and keep a binder of organized coupons," Schrage says. "Plan to go in and stock up on large amounts of frozen foods when they are best priced. When food prices are rising and you need to prepare, this strategy will become especially important."
Consider a Roth IRA
If you're on the young side, a Roth IRA is a great investments, says Larsen. The money goes in after taxes, but by the time you're preparing to retire, you won't have to pay taxes.
Take your pet to the vet for a check-up
As a pet owner, not following up on regular check-ups can be one of the costliest (and deadliest) money mistakes you'll ever make.
Vets recommend bringing in your pet for a check-up every six months. Though this costs between $100 and $200, the visit could save you thousands on emergency costs.
Read more tips about reducing your pet's medical bill on Business Insider.
Open a Certificate of Deposit
"A certificate of deposit is one of the safest investments for your money and provides a better return than your savings account," Schrage says.
Long-term investors preparing for a fixed expense like buying a car can earn substantially more than the current yield on U.S. treasuries, he adds, and unlike Treasury bills or bonds, CDs are FDIC-insured.
Make minor home repairs
"Fixing up your house will help significantly over the long-term," says Schrage.
In fact, if you're looking to put it on the market, making minor repairs can dramatically raise its value.
Repairing leaky plumbing and caulking holes are some of the best home improvement ideas, and might save you 5% to 30% on monthly utilities.
Invest in your career or self-improvement
"A book or conference may be a great way to learn new ways to invest in your career," says Schrage. "You may want to educate yourself on ways to improve your career, improve your health and learn new skills that can help you save or make money later on."
If you're on the hunt for a job, click here to see some new sites to rev up your job search.
Shop for clothes in the off-season
"If you know you are going to need new winter clothes, you should consider buying them in the summer and vise-versa," suggests Schrage. This could save you hundreds on your next outing.
Here are some excellent tips for buying quality clothes on a budget so you won't have to break the bank every season.
Start your rainy day fund
Whether you lose a job, wreck a car, become ill, or suffer some other hardship, it's smart to be prepared.
Aim to set aside three to six months' worth of day-to-day living expenses, which is about the time it takes to find a new job.
Paying with savings over credit could save you the costs plus interest down the line.
Wise Bread offers some helpful tips to determine what costs to factor in.
Start your side hustle
Perhaps you've been thinking of opening your own consulting service or giving it a go as a freelancer.
Use that Benjamin to purchase the tools you'll need, and read this mediapreneur's story to get inspired.
Winterize your home
'Tis the season to crank up your thermostat, but why pay hundreds to stay warm?
Dodge the draft, caulk your windows, and follow the rest of our helpful, cheap tips to cut your bills by 5% to 30%.
Put it in a Dividend Reinvestment Plan
Schrage calls dividend reinvestment plans investing (DRIPs) "an extremely cheap way to start investing in stocks and watch your money grow."
And because DRIPs automatically purchase new shares of stock, they create the sense of maintaining passive income, which can help your money grow exponentially, "especially if it's invested in a conservative, stable blue-chip stock," he says. "You can invest in a DRIP for as little as $10."
Buy some groceries and cook ahead
Preparing soup, sandwiches, breads and other foods that can be stored in the fridge until you need them is a fun, easy way to save money, stay healthy (restaurants tend to load on the salt), and cut back dining expenses.
Just bringing in lunch three times a week has saved me $30 on meals that would have cost $10 each.
Give it away
As we've previously reported, people feel better about themselves when they help the less fortunate.
“People perceive those who do good . . . to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort,” researcher Kurt Gray told the Harvard Gazette.
If you'd prefer to pocket the $100, we've rounded up a bunch of ad-sponsored programs that give money to a charity each time you click.
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