10 Smart Things to Do With $25
So, you’ve got $25 burning a hole in your pocket. Or, you just found it in an old pair of jeans. Maybe it represents the contents of your piggy bank, or a check you got from an aunt in another state for your birthday. However you came by this $25, you’re trying to figure out how to spend it without blowing it.
Here then are 10 ideas, some fun, some serious, that will help you make the most of your 25 buckaroos. (See also: 15 Fun Things to Buy for Under $5)
1. Go on a Goodwill Shopping Spree
The bargains I find at Goodwill never cease to amaze me. I recently purchased a mint-condition, sealed Sopranos jigsaw puzzle for $2. I sold it for $10 just a few days later. OK, not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but if you could do that with $25 worth of Goodwill stuff, you turn it unto $125. Rummage through the collectibles and glassware, and check out all the pictures, CDs, and garments. Every Goodwill store holds gems, you just have to know where to look. And remember, the money you spend in there goes to a very good cause. It’s win-win.
2. Adopt an Animal That Needs a Good Home
We recently adopted two kittens from our local animal shelter. We were shocked at how cheap it was to do this. They had so many cats, dogs, and other animals to care for that they were almost giving them away. It was sad to see a sign like “buy a kitten, get a grown up cat free,” but I guess tough times call for new ideas. The price for the adoption of the two kittens, plus inoculations and spaying/neutering, came in at less than $25. We gave the shelter double that because we know how much they rely on donations. But, if you want to do some good with your $25 and make a friend, spending it on a new pet could be just for you. As always, don’t do it on a whim, and don’t buy a pet as a gift for someone else (unless they come with you). Animals need loving homes. If you can provide one, get down to your local shelter.
3. Buy Previously Viewed Movies and Games
DVD rental stores have hit on hard times. It doesn’t bother me too much, because I remember being charged ridiculous prices for new releases and having to pay horrendous late fees. The rental stores had to adapt, and they also had to find a way to make extra money. By selling off previously viewed DVDs and pre-played games, they’re recouping some of their losses; and you get yourself some sweet bargains. I picked up movies including A Serious Man and A Nightmare on Elm Street for just 99 cents. I also recently bought Blu Ray copies of Inception, Horrible Bosses, Machete, and Predators for around $7 a piece. That’s way below the price of a new copy, and they play just as well. Some discs look untouched. These stores have dozens of copies of the popular movies, so many of the discs are played just a few times. And they all come with at least a seven-day guarantee. Bring it back if it’s scratched or doesn’t play, they’ll replace it for you. Now that’s smart.
4. Start a College Savings Plan
With $25? Well, it’s $25 dollars more than if you don’t have a plan right now. And if you have young children, the price of college by the time they reach 18 will demand every penny you can amass. By investing $25 a month for 18 years with a 7% rate of return, you’ll have over $11,000 in that account. True, it’s probably not going to cover a lot by then, but it’s better than nothing at all.
5. Hit the Sales at the Grocery Stores
If you want to grab yourself some real bargains, go and buy the food that is “going off” in the stores. It’s often heavily discounted because it has reached its sell-by date. But that’s an arbitrary date set to protect stores from lawsuits and ensure you get the freshest food. So much of that food is still very good, and you can get it really cheap just before it hits the dumpster. Your $25 could easily get you $75-$100 worth of food. Pop whatever you can in your freezer, and bring it out when you need it.
6. Loan It to a Farmer or Entrepreneur in a Third-World Country
One of the best non-profit ideas I’ve seen in a while is Kiva.org. It’s based on the principles of “microfinancing,” which basically means you can donate a sum as small as $25 to the fund. The borrower will make a request for funds, and if successful, he or she will get a loan funded by the more than 500,000 lenders around the world. The borrower then makes repayments, so if you put your money in, you will get it back at a later date. But in the process, you have helped someone realize a dream who normally wouldn’t have a chance to.
7. Hop the Farmers Markets
An article I wrote in the past warned of things to avoid at farmers markets, and that resulted in a lot of angry letters and comments wondering why I was against them. That, I am happy to tell you, is not true at all. I love farmer’s markets; I simply wanted to point out a few pitfalls. But when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, these markets can’t be beat. So take your $25 to a local farmers market, get some good quality food for less than supermarket prices, and support a local farmer.
8. Buy Some Original Art
You may think $25 will not buy you much of a work of art, but you’d be mistaken. Yes, granted, if you’re looking for a 6 ft. canvas by a well-known painter, you’ll be out of luck. But if you are willing to look around local art shows, search on Craigslist, or even peruse the walls of local eateries and record shops, you will find amazing prices on original works. These are from artists who want to be discovered and also want to cover the costs of materials. Who knows, in the future that piece you buy for $25 could be worth six figures.
9. Get a Free Massage or Haircut, and Tip $25
Students who are enrolled in massage or haircutting courses will often give away their services for free (or very cheap) to practice. You’ll find ads for free massages or haircuts on Craigslist and in newspaper classified ads. But while they are free, or very cheap, these people do deserve a tip. So, for the complete price of $25, you help a student with their studies and get a service for at least half of what you’d regularly pay.
10. Take a Music Lesson
So many of us have guitars, old pianos, or other instruments just lying around. Maybe we bought them decades ago and gave up on them, or they were gifts. They could be hand-me-downs. Either way, why not see if it’s really something you want to do. Playing an instrument is a great way to release stress, and it’s a wonderful hobby. For $25, you can usually get a 30-minute to 1-hour lesson for a variety of instruments. Some charge as little as $10 for a 30-minute lesson.