20 Things to Do With $1,000 Right Now

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Last updated on February 27, 2023 Comments: 25

Suddenly have a slew of extra spending money? Before you head out on a spontaneous shopping spree, consider these 20 things you can do with it instead.

It’s not often you come across an extra $1,000. But it could happen. What if you’re part of a settlement process and get an unexpected check? Or maybe you receive a small inheritance from a long-lost relative. Or possibly, you get an unexpected bump in your year-end bonus.

Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to at least think about the possibilities of what you’ll do if you get an extra $1,000. Or even if you save up money and have an extra $1,000 just sitting in your savings account.

No idea what you’d do with that kind of “spare” money? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Pay off high-interest debt

If you’ve got a credit card balance sitting around costing you absurd amounts of interest, get it paid off as quickly as you can. Even if your balance is well over $1,000, putting that first $1,000 in gets you started on the journey towards debt freedom. Once you knock out some of the balance, you can keep paying your old monthly payment so that you’ll chip away at that debt little by little.

2. Save for a specific goal

Do you have something in mind that you’re saving for? Consider adding your $1,000 to the goal, whether it’s buying a new car or putting a down payment on your next home. Even if that money is only a small percentage of your goal, it moves you forward, which is always a good thing. Consider a savings account, it’s secure and is the perfect vehicle for the task. I like Chime, a banking app that offers savings accounts (along with spending and visa accounts) with virtually none of the fees typically associated with banking. Another plan – get set up with a personal finance app like Empower. Empower helps you see how you are spending your money and even finds ways to save you more.

3. Put it towards your emergency plan

Already have your debts paid off? Or don’t have an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months’ expenses? The next best place for that money is in your emergency plan. Read more about how to set up a fully-fledged emergency plan (that’s more than just a savings account) here.

4. Invest for retirement

If you aren’t already maxing out a 401(k) and an IRA, add the $1,000 to your retirement investments. Over the course of the next 20 or 30 years, that original $1,000 could grow to be worth quite a lot, especially when invested in low-cost mutual funds or the like.

If you don’t know where to begin, start with a robo advisor. I like Empower and Blooom. With Empower, you can get advice for your investments and see all your accounts at a glance. Blooom is a robo advisor created specifically to work with retirement plans, so you can feel good that your extra grand will pay off in the long run.

(Personal Capital is now Empower)

5. Put it in your kid’s 529 account

What if you’re already maxing out your retirement accounts or saving as much as you feel like you should? In this case, consider adding that $1,000 to 529 college savings account for your kid. These accounts act as an IRA for education spending, so they’re a valuable way to save up now for those hefty college expenses you’ll see in the future. But before you do that, make sure to create a trust and will for your kids to make sure that they are taken care of if anything happens to you. You can even use an affordable online services, like Trust & Will.

6. Buy a life insurance policy

If you don’t already have a term life insurance policy, you probably need one. Even single people with no kids sometimes need life insurance coverage. If you do need a policy but have been putting off getting one because you can’t afford the premium, now is the time.

Leap Life is an online tool that offers a “Needs Calculator” so you can make an informed decision about how much insurance you need. If you want an insurance aggregator and broker in one, Policygenius is a good option and is free to use. Finally, Bestow offers both short-term and long-term insurance and you can get a policy in a few minutes. And if you need affordable disability insurance, Breeze allows applicants to forego a medical exam.

Secure a low-premium term life insurance and disability policies and pay your first year’s premiums with this extra cash. That buys you time to fit the premium into your normal budget within a year.

7. Start with a micro-investing service

$1,000 is more than enough to get started with micro-investing. There are now lots of great apps that let you invest as little as $5, helping you to create a steady habit of investment that can really add up. An added bonus – micro-investing apps allow you to invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). If you’re a newbie investor, try out Public or M1 Finance. The Public app is great about explaining investment jargon, so you know exactly what you’re doing. Similarly, M1 Finance helps newer investors build their portfolios. If you are a technical trader, you’ll want to check out Webull–the app provides a ton of information so you can really dig deep with your micro-investments. And if you have trouble finding the cash to invest, go for Acorns, which will round up your card purchases to the next dollar and use the difference to invest.

8. Alternative (and fun) investments

Sometimes investments can seem dull, but investing in something you love and that is tangible? That could be a great way to use that extra $1,000.

For art lovers, there’s Masterworks. You can buy $20 shares of artwork. The minimum buy-in is typically between $500 – $1,000. This is a unique way to diversify your investments without needing to have millions.

9. Take a class to further your career

Have you been thinking about changing careers or developing skills to take your current career further? Look into online, professional courses that can help you land that next job. Some of the better online programs offer certificates that can help you stand out. Datacamp is great if you want a flexible job in tech or want to stand out among the crowd by using data to help you in your chosen field. If you just want to check out the first chapter of each course, you can sign up for free. Otherwise, there’s a monthly charge. Pluralsight is another online platform targeted towards the budding tech worker with more than 7,500 courses. You have access to all of them for a monthly fee. Finally, Coursera is well known in the online education space and has courses in all kinds of subjects–you can join for free, but many courses cost money (especially if you want the certification).

10. Take a class just for fun

Acquiring new skills doesn’t just have to be about furthering your career. You can also take classes just to increase your health and happiness in your personal life, too. Learning for the sake of learning is great for personal development and brain health. Plus, there are now ways to do that from your home and make connections with students around the world. If you are creative and want to explore your inner photographer, animator, or even learn about business, Skillshare is worth checking out. They even have an app so you can learn on the go. If your interests lie more in personal development, design, or marketing, check out Udemy. They have over 100,000 online videos to choose from and you can learn at your own pace.

11. Start a side business

If you’d like to earn extra money on the side, consider investing this cash into a side business. Many side gigs would only require you to spend a small part of this $1,000. But if you need to set up a nice-looking website, you could invest some of the money in some professional help for design and website management.

12. Get a tune-up on your car or a major appliance

Preventative care for your car and major appliances is a great way to spend extra money. Spending a little now can keep you from having to spend a whole lot of money down the road. So consider taking your car for an official tune-up. Or if you’ve been putting off having regular service on your furnace, fridge, or washer and dryer set, that would also be a good way to spend this money.

13. Upgrade a major appliance

Do you have an appliance that’s always causing headaches in your home? Or maybe one that’s making your life more difficult instead of easier? You might consider using this money to upgrade it. Perhaps a nicer dishwasher that would actually clean your dishes would save you loads of time you otherwise spend scraping and hand-cleaning. Or maybe a larger washing machine would save you two or three loads a week with your growing family.

14. Put it into protecting your home

Preventative maintenance for your appliances is great, but don’t forget your home itself, either. You can protect your home by getting your gutters cleaned, jacking up the basement in your older home, or upgrading your sump pump. And if you’re all good on the maintenance side, you could put some money into upgrading a room with a coat of paint and new fixtures.

15. Take a vacation

Taking a vacation doesn’t have to be a waste of money. In some cases, a good, affordable vacation lets you come back to your everyday life more refreshed and energized. And that can have a huge ROI for both your personal and professional life. If you have some paid time off banked, make it a game to get your whole vacation done for $1,000. It can be a fun exercise that also leads to great memories.

16. Buy a museum or zoo membership for your family

If your family is constantly looking for fun things to do on weekends and school breaks, consider spending part of your windfall on a membership. Most museums, zoos, and other local attractions offer family memberships. If you go just two times in a year, you’ll save money with a membership. And having one means you can check out the latest attractions at your local museum every weekend, without spending a dime of extra money.

17. Look into other experiences

The jury is in on what makes people happier: experiences over more stuff. So if you’re struggling to find a way to spend that $1,000, don’t buy more stuff. Instead, look into buying experiences. That could be a class or vacation that we’ve talked about above. Or you might take your spouse, a friend, or each of your children on a special night out to build some memories. Those are truly gifts that keep on giving.

18. Buy some health and fitness equipment

Considering investing in your health? That’s a great option. One way to do it is to buy some high-quality fitness equipment for your home. Just be sure you have room to store and use it, and that you know what you’re doing before you dive in.

19. Pay for a year’s worth of gym memberships or classes

Don’t have room at home? Or prefer to work out with others for accountability? In this case, consider splurging on a year’s worth of gym membership fees or exercise classes. Pre-paying may make you more likely to actually go and participate. And you won’t regret putting some money into improving your health and well-being.

20. Donate it

Giving to a charity is always a worthy option with extra money. Pick a charity locally or internationally whose mission you can really get behind. Then spend your money on that charity. With a larger donation, you can probably even earmark the money for a specific project you really want to invest in.

Any of these options are great choices so don’t stress too much about your spending decision. Choose the one you’re drawn to the most. Saving is always a wise choice but as long as you’re not wasting $1,000 on stuff you don’t need you’ll consider this expenditure a good buy.

Article comments

Lou sasshole says:

Noob gib me nuds

Yoshika Macklin says:

Pay bills ahead !!

Bryce Johnston says:

I would probably like to get stock or something.

Kandace Y Jackson says:

Great Article and ideas on what to do with 1000 dollars. I personally would try to take that money and invest it to make more money. Charity is also a nice thing to do. I agree with the person below about the gym membership
I definitely would start an online business to keep the money coming in. These are all very good suggestions

Ibrahim says:

Hi, Suggest me online bussiness

Anonymous says:

I would buy a gaming PC. 🙂

Anonymous says:

Great article! i don’t know why i would use $1000 towards the gym? 😛 i would use towards an emergency plan! 🙂 Also to upgrade home appliances! Great advice! Tweeted 🙂

Anonymous says:

I would pay off debt or add to my emergency fund.

Anonymous says:

I have a two-year old daughter, so I’d probably pretend I never got it and invest it with her college savings in mind. Granted, I’m sure she’s going to get a full-ride somewhere for something (UNC for soccer? Harvard for electrical engineering?), so I’m sure I won’t have to worry about that. But just in case…

If I had credit-card debt, that would be at the top of the list. But my wife and I made it a priority to eliminate our debt, so we’re doing okay there.

William Jenkins says:

make sure to tell us if she actually makes it to Harvard and not some community college

Anonymous says:

Instead of the Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX) you could always put it into the Vanguard STAR Fund (VGSTX) which has a minimum investment of $1000.

For me I would put it towards my current top priority: topping off my emergency fund.

Anonymous says:

I’d put it in a Roth IRA. I’m a college student living off of her parents and my “income” is $7,000 in scholarships for 2009. That’s enough to make me file, as none of it is deductible since my parents are claiming my tuition, fees, etc. This qualifies me to get a Roth and take advantage of the fact that I only have to pay 10% income tax.

Anonymous says:

Unless the money on a credit card is riding on 0% interest then paying off the credit card debt should def be at the top of the list.

Anonymous says:

My wife and I would take a much needed vacation. 🙂

Anonymous says:

We’re getting our 1st time home buyers tax credit Real Soon Now (it’s been 6 or so weeks since we mailed in our form). Since we bought our house and have been budgeting as though we wouldn’t see that money it will essentially be an $8000 bonus.

We’re going to :
1) Pay off some debt ($4500 of loans from family members)
2) Put $1000 into an emergency fund
3) Add insulation to the attic (and replace our soffits?)
4) The rest will go towards my wife’s student loans

Any additional $1000s that may find their way to our house will go towards paying down debts.

Anonymous says:

These above tips all seemed weird to me aside from the emergency fund..I would not even think of half of these if I came into $1000..self development class? The Gym?

I’d pay off debt. If I didn’t have the debt, I’d probably do the emergency fund thing.

Luke Landes says:

I tend to agree with you. What if your emergency fund is more than full and you have no debt?

Anonymous says:

Go visit my daughter in Israel – and kick her boy friend’s arse!

Anonymous says:

Pay back the rest of a personal loan and then put the rest toward the new computer that I rather desperately want (while my 5 year old beast still works, it’s looking to die any day now).

Anonymous says:

Buy a ticket to the Yankees Phillies world series game behind the Phillies dugout!

Anonymous says:

Invest in supplies for raised bed gardening for next summer.
Buy some insulation for the attic.
Buy a good antenna and DVR to get your cable shows online and view thru TV. Get Netflix.
Buy extra food and household disposibles they go up in price.
Buy a freezer.
Get car tuned up.
Maintaince on your sewer line, furnace and water heater.
Spruce up your home with some paint and small fix its.
Buy a bike.
That is all this early morning brain can come up with.

Luke Landes says:

Great ideas!