HP Giving Away $500 to a Lucky Wise Bread Reader

by Will Chen on 31 August 2011 (856 comments)

Editor's Note: The contest is officially closed! Congratulations to Wise Bread reader Ben Marvin for his winning comment!

HP is launching a new blog for lifehackers, work-from-home entrepreneurs, and small business owners called Input/Output. It has a lot of relevant tips for savvy Wise Bread readers, such as 5 Tips to Cutting Hidden IT CostsHow Not to  Blow Your IT Job Interview, and 3 Ways to Print From Your Mobile Phone

To celebrate the launch of Input/Output, HP is giving Away $500 to Wise Bread Readers!

How to Enter

Simply leave a comment below answering the question: What is the smartest investment you’ve ever made? (Answer must be at least two sentences long.)

It can be any kind of investment—business, personal, or family investment. What is an investment that has yielded a solid return for you? Perhaps a degree, office equipment, cooking lessons, or a new suit?

Prize is a $500 Visa gift card.

Be sure to leave your name and email so we can contact you when you win!

Comment must be entered before September 23, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Contest Rules

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years or older.  Ends 9/23/11.  Winners will be randomly selected and announced on Wise Bread before end of September. See Official Rules. Void where prohibited.

More About INPUT / OUTPUT

One of the best ways to achieve success is to emulate successful people. HP's new blog features original articles from the industry’s most respected writers and exclusive interviews with technology leaders.

You can learn life and business lessons from the top business minds of our time. Some of my favorites include:

Enter the contest now by leaving a comment!

This post is brought to you by HP. For more information on HP and HP products visit us at Inputcreatesoutput.com.

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Mary Ann Foster

After college and teaching for 2 years, I accepted a commission in the US Navy. For the next 20 years I invested my time and efforts into the United States. The rewards were immense. The quality of personnel I worked with, the scope of the jobs, the personal satisfaction in a job well done. I grew up, grew strong, and gained a wider understanding and empathy for all the different people and cultures in the US and abroad. I miss the Navy but the lessons are still a part of me.

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Olivia

As far as non monetary things go, our ten sessions of premarital couseling was the best investment of our time ever. Sure we had all the basics already, good communication, friendship, love. But through it we covered areas we wouldn't normally have. It gave us a solid basis for communicating more deeply about everything. Finances, child rearing styles, dreams, fighting "fair", expectations.

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Miranda

Oddly, the best (recent) investment we've made is a home soda-water maker. We have saved hundreds of dollars and not put all those plastic bottles into landfills too.

So it's not huge like a degree or a house, but it's saved our seltzer guzzling selves lots of cash.

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Josh

My best investment was my long overdue cooling system maintenance on my Volvo when I first moved to Phoenix. It wasn't cheap, but you never really appreciate things like that until the thermometer hits 116.

Also, my TouchPad has turned out to be an excellent decision :)

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gt0163c

My smartest investment was in my education. It wasn't the best school for my major nor was it the cheapest for my major, but it was the best value for my major and turned out to be an excellent fit for me. I was a part of the co-op program and alternated terms between full-time school and full-time work. I ended up in school for five years, but due to the pay during my work terms as well as living frugally while in school and being awarded a few small scholarships, I was able to graduate without debt and with the equivalent of two years experience. Between my education, my work experience and the contacts I had made both at school and at work, I was able to get an excellent job upon graduation.

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Leon

I invested in a house with my girlfriend. Soon to be paid off in 2 years by paying off the principle :)

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Laura

When I first started working, I invested in a gray suit with several silk shirts and scarves. I wore those outfits for many years and always felt professionally dressed.

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Susan LaRue

The wisest investment I've ever made was to purchase an extra desktop computer to use with our HD TV so that we could cancel our cable service and watch programs via the computer. That one investment allowed us to cut back enormously on our entertainment expenses.

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Kurt Hoffmann

I went back to my state school for grad school in 1983. Two years of business school cost me $3400 total and I've reaped the returns in salary ever since.

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sandy

The smartest investment I ever made was a laptop, why because even if I can not afford internet I can go get it free in so many places. I do not have a phone, and use the computer as my source of study, work and communication.

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Heather Zeh

I have not been smart when it comes to money, but I'd say the smartest investment is the time I spend entering contests. It has allowed me to get so many things for my family that we could not afford otherwise, both neccessities and recreational.

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David

In terms of numbers, my smartest investment was my education, at UC Berkeley. I can't say my graduate degree was as good an investment, but I am seeing some returns on it, and I've been able to switch into my chosen field- hard to value that. My luckiest was in an energy company that was acquired twice and gave me a return of 400%.

Guest's picture

My smartest investment so far has been the investment I've been making on my education. I am not talking about college. I'm talking about after college and self-learning. I am a student of personal finance and personal development. I'm amazed by the fact that books which help you develop yourself are far more inexpensive than textbooks. I love the philosophy that I learn and I'm learning more and more everyday. My mentors are Jim Rohn, Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, and Bob Burg.

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Cynthia C

When I was working, I signed up for a matching fund annuity. It was a solid investment and I am so happy I did it.

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James

The best investment I ever made was adopting two cats. An investment in my well being is what I needed the most and this was perfect. Lots of love and helped my blood pressure. An investment in my health I guess as well.

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Jared

The best investment I've ever made is spending money on new and interesting adventures for me and my family. I'd rather invest money in having memorable experiences and build a strong relationship with my children than invest money in anything else. The "return on investment", while it isn't measurable in terms of money, is far, far more valuable to me.

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Nicholas

Learning to build my own PC's was probably my best investment in myself. By learning I know more about PC's and how they work. It also allows me to build better PC's that last a lot longer for a cheaper price. Currently I am still using my $500 PC that I built 5 years ago and it is still running strong and it is still better than PC's being sold at retail outlets today.

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Cindy

The best investment that I made was a home. It gave me financial security as well as help pay my kids schooling.

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Melissa Deckert

The best investment I ever made was buying a good mattress. It helps me get the sleep I need to have to energy to workout each morning before I go to work. Working out in turn keeps me healthy and out of the doctors office allowing me to be more productive at work.

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Fenrir

The smartest investment for me has to be - reading all the personal finance blogs and using www.Mint.com. I recently graduated from college and have a well paid job. I thought I was frugal and a hawk on every little spending until I heard about Mint.com. Mint helped me manage my money and give a snapshot view of all my expenses (and incomes). It was an eye opener - a little embarrassing to admit considering I am a Financial Analyst. But even when you track the smallest expenses, getting a look at the combined broader picture can have its own set of surprises.

Reading stories from fellow readers at personal finance blog introduced me to new ways to save and mistakes to avoid.

Since Mint & a lot of reading, my investment portfolio has gone up. I've almost stopped eating out completely. My savings account grows by the day.

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Matthew Munson

Hmm... the best investment I ever made is in my children. Whitney Houston was right... they are our future.

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Aaron Lin

The best investment I've made is in a Footbike Street. Not only has it helped me get a lot of FUN exercise, it has also made me more aware of my body's athletic performance and abilities. This is great because I don't have a background in anything to do with athletics. My endurance, health, and general appearance has benefited from this.

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Ernest S.

This might be a weird answer, but the best investment I ever made was joining the military (via ROTC during my undergraduate years). Not only did they pay for school, but they also jump-started my career and gave me some valuable experiences. I left after serving my four year commitment, but I still reap the rewards of being a former military officer whenever I have applied for jobs or requested promotions.

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aardvark

The smartest investment I’ve ever made is a recent one in my own health. I'm about to turn 55 and joined a club for aqua-cise and whirlpool to improve my condition, relieve arthritis, etc.

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michelle

The smartest investment for me has been investing in my ROTH IRA. I've been investing in my Roth for the past 4 years and have a healthy amount saved up!

Guest's picture

The smartest investment I ever made was waiting to roll over my 401 money from my previous employer to my new employer. Three days before the time was "up" for my required withdrawal, the stocks I held were sold to another company and I was paid 2 for 1. By simply waiting until the last minute I actually doubled my financial worth.

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ann

my best investment is my 1997 ford explorer, just maintenence and tires. Love that car, has saved me thousands of dollars over these past years.

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Kevin B Flaherty

My best/favorite investment has been my acoustic guitar. I bought it 4.5 years ago during my freshman year of college at Virginia Tech. I've become decent at playing and have discovered that I love to sing as well because of it. The motivation to learn guitar that came along with my purchase is a timeless gift of creativity and relaxation.

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Heather S

My HP laptop as I had a high end Toshiba that was always crashing and I could not get my work done. I finally broke down and bought a more basic HP latpop with windows7 and have not had any problems. I am more efficient and much happier!!

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amy

The wisest investment I made was getting a college education. This gave me the foundation and credential I needed to move forward and earn a living wage. From there I have been able to manage credit card debt, student loan debt, and invest in working overseas!

Guest's picture

My smartest investment was on my passport & traveling outside of the country I live in. It really is true that you appreciate and look at your life differently once you travel to another country. You never will be the same once you experience life somewhere else.

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Wayne

Best investment I made was taking the time to see what is important in my life and to make changes to improve that. It was to spend more time with family. I was able to work it to where I could work at home and be able to attend kids events and doing stuff with them. By working at home, able to be more productive and focused which made me complete work quicker and allowed me time for family.

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Rod

Honestly the best investment decision I have made hasn't been made yet. Hopefully this one with this new company and maxing my 401k out will be the one

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Monique Rizzo

For me it is my shelving for my food stockpiling. I started couponing, and it helps me save a ton of money. Without the shelving...I wouldnt have my own grocery store~!
Thanks for the chance.

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Ben

The smartest investment I've ever made is having kids. It will probably be one of most expensive investments I'll ever make - I don't really want to know what the total cost of raising two kids will be - but it's well worth the money. Not only will they enrich our lives immeasurably, we will also have someone to take care of us when we're old and gray.

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Lindsey Bandy

I invested in changing my spending habits so that I only live off of half of my take-home pay. The other half goes straight to retirement & savings accounts.

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Summer

I think our home has been the best investment. We bought it in Feb. of 2009. We bought it for half of what the original owners bought it for. We were also able to pay cash on the down payment. I hope in the future the prices will rebound and we can make some money off it if/when we decide to sell it.

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J. Velez

I think my computer crashed (resulting each time in the loss of my beloved music collection) about 3 times before I even knew about the benefits of getting an external harddrive. Now its no problem and I'm worry free when it comes to all my important documents and music files! I'm set for good!

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Jennifer P

I invested in a quality business suit, perfect for interviews and work; it stands the test of time with style and durability. Some people don't want to spend too much on a suit, but for women, one really great one can be an important investment and be the reason you get that high paying position or not. It needs to be tailored to you also. It is definitely worth the investment if you are serious about getting a good first impression that can be all the difference in making it or not.

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Jill

The smartest investment I ever made was becoming a stay at home mom. Less stress from work so my health is better and we actually save more now that I stay home (been almost 2 years!).

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Linda Lansford

Best investment I ever made was buying a home

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Brendon

The smartest investment I've made is my laptop - a MacBook Pro. It was kind of pricey, but after 6 years, it's still going strong and helping me make a side income!

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Elena

I think the best investment I made was going back to school. I see it as a way to keep growing and strengthen mine and my daughters future.

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Patrice P.

The best investment that I ever made was taking some business courses at my local technical school. Not only did I learn typing, which is essential with the computer, but it gave me the skills and confidence needed to get a good job.

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Ann Marie

Getting a college degree is the best investment. The solid return for my husband and I has been a higher income than our peers without degrees. Simple.

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Kristy OT

So far, the best investment I've made has been my husband's education. Not cheap, but a degree in software engineering is totally worth it!

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nanjhall

It would be a toss up between getting my degree and taking good care of myself. My degree allows me to always be able to support myself and that is something that no one can ever take away from me. By always maintaining a very healthy lifestyle, I have no medical issues, less costs and was able to get reasonable private insurance so I could become self employed. Both investments have paid off extremely well for me.

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Scott

My best investment was in my engineering degree. It has paid off many times.

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Joye Foote

It would have to be the Netflix stock we purchased. We bought it just as blockbuster was tanking and even thru their most recent membership changes ( we even dropped them) Netflix still is performing well.

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Ron Hunt

My best investment was my education. I went to a small local college and got a technical degree without taking out an insane amount of loans.

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Erin

The best investment I ever made was my college education. Not only did I receive a valuable degree, I learned so much outside of the classroom through the college organizations I was involved with. I grew as a leader, and learned how the manage my time and how to organize large groups. Connections I made during college also helped me land my first professional job. I also met my future husband at school as well. Not too shabby.

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Raina

This is so awesome because I personally LOVE HP and recommend them to everyone (in fact, I think I mentioned them in response to a post on WiseBread about computers). I've had my HP desktop and printer for six years and going.....

Anyway, there are a hundred ways I could answer this question. I guess the easiest way to look at this is financially, and the best financial investments I've made so far are in depositing my savings to high-yield checking accounts. This way, my cash stays liquid while also earning much more than what CDs pay. There's also not the risk associated with stocks. You could call it an investment to even be saving as much of my income as I am; I've been hovering around saving 65% of my income for a few years now.

A possibly greater investment, though, is making sure to not give up on my education. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to get a degree in, and I ended up changing majors, but once I settled on Computer Science, it's been full-steam-ahead. I've continued to work full-time while going to school full-time so that both my financial and educational investments are the best they can be.

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Rebekah

The smartest investment I ever made was in my Master's degree. The important part was not just the degree itself, but choosing the kind of school that allowed me to network with people in the particular niche of work I wanted to go into.

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Jennifer

The smartest investment I ever made was to take 2 years before I started a family, and get my Nursing Degree. It's been a diverse career, with many options available to me in the future as well. I'll always have this degree & experience, to expand my career as necessary.

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Kathy

ONe of the best investments I have made besides my children is a sewing machine. I have been able to help the family budget by sewing their clothes. I also sew and do alterations for others

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Jean Pierre Cuba

the smartest investment was finishing high school early. I had an extra buffer year for all those "i don't know what to study" years.

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Stacy H

The best investment I ever made was disability insurance on my husband. Never thought my young husband would ever need to use it, but I'm grateful we don't have to worry about paying the bills.

Guest's picture

My best investment was the cost of starting my blog. It has been a great way to meet people, share what I know, learn, and yes, make money. I love what I do and without that initial start up cost and a blind leap I would have never made it here!

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Jean D.

My best investment was taking piano lessons. My family loves it when I play, and I feel so joyful playing the piano when I'm by myself.

Thanks for a generous giveaway!

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Denice P

The smartest investment that I've ever made is signing up for savings account that will take out a dollar every time I make a purchase. This is really great for me because I know something is going to be saved and it has slowly been growing. I just have it as my emergency fund. Haven't had to use it but knowing that it's there helps me feel better.

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JC

My time in service to the United States. Opened my eyes to a larger world and was so much more rewarding than anything else I could ever imagine doing...

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revanche

The best investment I made was in taking a series of management courses during a particularly tough point in my life. It helped me keep perspective and focus while my own manager was spiraling out of control so I didn't make any foolish decisions with regard to my career; I was able to weather the bad period until my family was in a better position.

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Susan Noel

My best investment was enrolling in the Navy Nurse Candidate Program in college leading to 4 years in the United States Navy during Vietnam. This service taught me to be on my own, to work, serve and care - all lifelong characteristics that helped me in work, family and community.

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Dan

I bought AIG stock at 79 cents and sold it one day later at 1.26. My best investement

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NJJ

The smartest investment I ever made was investing in my retirement fund. With the economy being shaky these days trying to secure my future by socking away as much as I can now will really help me once I finally retire, because I hopefully will still have my financial independence and won't have to rely on family or the gov't to help keep me afloat.

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CATHY TRUMAN

The smartest is opening a ROTH IRA for my husband and I.
I have the money taken from my paycheck so we do not miss it.
It is a great way to save money.
Thanks Cathy Truman
kbtruman(at)att(dot)net

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Jennifer

My best investment...My education. You can't very far in life if you are uneducated!

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Sierra

The smartest investment I've ever made was in psychotherapy. I come from an extremely dysfunctional home environment, and ended up getting disowned by my parents at age 19, when I was a sophomore in college. I made it through college without family support, and spent holidays in the deserted dorms. I became extremely depressed, suicidal, and hopeless. I felt alienated and alone in the world. I'm now fifty. I'm a psychiatrist, working with college students, and I have a wonderful life. I love my work, I have a healthy relationship with a partner of 20 years, and I have caring generous friends. When I was in my twenties, I never dreamed of living into my fifties. Therapy was grueling and painful, and I never thought I'd stop crying. But the investment has paid me back in joy! By the way, my parents and I reconciled three years ago. Forgiveness is freedom.

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Norma w.

Two of my best investments: investing my time into my family so they know they are my priority and making extra principle payments (small but mighty) on my mortgage and vehicle loans. These two investments over time have paid me nack in spades.

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Melody

The smartest investment I ever made was a gym membership. The gym had a particular deal where after paying about full price for three years' membership (which was quite expensive), every year afterwards I only pay $20. Now, about 7 years later, I feel great about my decision. It has benefited not only my health but also my budget.

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Kathy Scott

Investing the time to learn how to enter contest and then investing the time to actually enter them. Because you can't win if you don't enter.

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hale2005

A new computer has been a great investment for me. Completing tasks faster has been great for me.

hellrzr(at)juno(dot)com

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Heather E

The smartest investment I ever made was taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace program. By working through his program and living like no one else, someday I will be able to LIVE (and GIVE) like no one else!

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Jen

The best investment I ever made is a fairly recent one - I saved up and upgraded my DSLR camera to a much nicer model than my old one. It's allowing me kick off a side business MUCH sooner than I dreamed of, and I wouldn't give it up for the world!

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Audrey S.

Therapy was my best investment. I never sat down before and thought about where I wanted my life to go, how not to get into bad relationships, and especially learn what I value most and how to focus on those values. I'm now in love with a wonderful man and looking to finding a career that I enjoy and love also.

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Garon

I took advantage of a stock purchase program at my old employer. I left the company and almost forgot about it until recently when I am getting ready to buy a house. That extra money will help me with a down payment!

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Chris

My best investment has been my college degree. What I am making now compared to what I was making before I had it are a world apart.

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sara

I grew up in a family that dined out CONSTANTLY and spent a fortune doing so. The best investment I've made has to be learning how to cook and buying good tools for cooking. We spend a small fraction of what my parents spent 30 years ago for food/eating.

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guest

Staying married to the same man for 42 years has been my wisest decision - I invested in a good marriage.

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Stuart

The best investment I ever made was a degree from a small institution. Not only did I form some relationships that will undoubtedly last a lifetime, I also got more a degree that landed me my first job. With my bio degree from a small school I was able to get much more lab experience and better relationships with professors.

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Scott Martin

Our greatest investment was paying a little extra for a home becuase it is in a better schoold district. I think it will pay off even further when the kids are ready for college.
THANKS for the AWESOME GIVEAWAY!!!

Scott Martin

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Rachie G

The best investment I have made I haven't exactly seen all my returns on yet but am hoping I will in the future. My investment has been in my health! Exercising regularly, making sure to include a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables and taking time to relax and disconnect are the best investment I have made thus far. I hope that the healthy behaviors I am making a habit of now will pay off in continued health in the future and cut down on future medical costs.

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J$

The smartest investment I ever made was in knowledge. Lame answer, I know, but it is SO TRUE. Without reading all our financial blogs, and finance books/magazines/etc over the past 3 years, there's no way in hell I'd be where I am today. Passion to learn more (and then apply it all) gets you much farther than a lucky stock or house purchase, etc.

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Ally

The smartest investment I have ever made was saving for college as early as possible, and paying on my loans while in school. I graduated with very minimal debt!

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nona

The best investment I ever made was in a book about financial planning by David Bach. Though, I haven't mastered all of the tenets it really set me on the right track and I've been able to increase my savings and knowledge.

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Amit N

The smartest investment I've made is in improving my written and oral communication skills. Whether I am interacting with clients, my boss, prospective employers or just friends I've found that the ability to present my ideas in a clear and coherent manner gets me taken much more seriously. If I can't communicate my thoughts and ideas well then how can the person I am addressing expect me to exucute on my ideas well? Indeed, I find that whenever I read anything with typos or poor grammar I am unable to take the writer all that seriously regardless of how good their ideas might be.

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Betty Curran

My best investment was the purchase of a small rental house. With only a couple of exceptions the tenants have been very good and the rent covers all my expenses while the value is slowly rising.

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Christine

Aside from my husband who has been my greatest investment :) , I would say our home because of our large yard. It sold the house literally and we've been able to put in a pool, a large garage for my husband while he was deployed and lots of gardens which are my passion. We're hoping to add an addition onto our house next and I'm really glad we picked this house. Thank you!

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Cate

My smartest investment was most definitely my master's degree in Library Science. Not only was it the first time I've ever truly loved school, but now I'm a librarian! I get paid to hang out with books and order books and read books and help people find books and do research and learn! I love my job, and it does so much more for me than just pay the bills.

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Brian L

The smartest investment I ever made was my college education, although I haven't finished paying for it I know that it will pay off in the long run. I have worked my way up the ranks already and have been knocked back down to level 1. If I had a degree that would have never happened or I could have easily walked into another management job. Now everywhere I look they want me to start at the ground level so a degree is the best investment I could possibly make.

Guest's picture

The smartest investment I made was spending 10 buck on a domain name on a whim. Bought the domain, had a friend help me set up hosting and Wordpress, and it sparked a semi-successful blog that I run now. I'm on my way to not needing a real job and just writing about what I love for money. Not an investment in the traditional sense of putting in a bunch of money and expecting more money back, but an investment in time. And it's been rewarding to me personally as well as (somewhat) monetarily.

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Sarah W.

I haven't started investing yet, since I'm still trying to get a job in this economy. But I'm really looking forward to it!

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kristina wittchen

My best investment was my college education. It enabled me to get a good start in life.

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Jeff

The smartest investment I have ever made was the purchase of an Ooma device, which enables free unlimited calls within the U.S. Although the upfront cost was somewhat expensive (over $200), the return on investment has been phenomenal. I have recouped the cost of the Ooma device in fewer than 7 months and I am now enjoying free phone service.

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Dee

The smartest investment I've ever made so far is taking money I earned from a summer off from school and taking a very intensive French speaking class for class. It's paid off in terms of internships...a lot of international companies require French speaking skills and I stand out because of it. I'm heading abroad this year and have snagged an amazing part time internship because of it! (And I know this internship will look great on a resume and help prepare me for the business ventures I wish to explore upon graduation.)

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Jen

The wisest investment I ever made was when I was 17 and realized that banks will pay you to save money. That realization opened up a whole new world of financial responsibility and opportunities. Saving money made sense to me and it clicked; my financial life would be vastly different if I never appreciated a 3% interest rate (or less!).

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Guest

The smartest investment I've ever made is one I have yet to see any returns on. Homeschooling is not exactly cheap, but my four kids will benefit from it in so many ways that it is definitely worth every penny I can afford to put into it.

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Cindy

The smartest investment I've ever made is one I have yet to see any returns on. Homeschooling is not exactly cheap, but my four kids will benefit from it in so many ways that it is definitely worth every penny I can afford to put into it.

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Georgia

I have to say, the smartest investment has been my hp computer. It is the second one I have bought and they last forever. It allows me to communicate to the rest of the world. Love HP.

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Pat B

The best investment I ever made was getting braces for my daughter. She has a beautiful smile!