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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Eddie

The best investment that I have made was 15 months of my time volunteering in West Africa. I gained an enormous amount of perspective on the world and my life. I met a lot of wonderful people including my wife.

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Steve

I would have to say my iPod --- with a long commute everyday for work I always felt like I was wasting time in the car, now I listen to Audio books and podcasts both of which that have helped my career.

Recenlty I joined a new church and found they have every worship going back to 2006 in podcasts... I've been listening to them lately and it's help my relationship with my wife and kids... All this comes from making the decision to by an ipod :)

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Lauren B

My best investment was spending mucho for fertility treatments, which resulted in my beautiful twins! They complete my life.

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Guest

The best investment I have made was an annuity that rated a 4.6 percent interest rate so I gained a thousand dollars a year! Could have been a lot more if I had more money in it!

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Jessie

An excellent pair of running shoes (about every 6 months). Amazing how a nice jog can reset the soul!

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Chip

Moving my cell phone service to PagePlus. I get an android phone, 1200 minutes a month, 300 texts and 100 MB of data for $25 a month.

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Dave

My smartest investment was probably my first house. I was 22, and instead of continue to live in a rental house with a bunch of roommates and buy a new car, I decided to buy a house. I made some 60k profit on that house in 2 years as the bubble was going up - and 110k on the next house in a further 2 years. Sadly, all good things come to an end, and my current home's value has tanked with the housing burst. C'est la vie, it makes a decent home for my young family now at least.

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The smartest investment I ever made, was investing time into learning the ways of personal finance. From reading amazing articles on this blog, to Bogleheads Wiki page, to the Personal Finance subsection of Reddit. I was able to get out of debt and put a savings plan in place. Knowledge is by far the best tool you can arm yourself with in todays economy.

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Rob S

The smartest investment I can remember making is a lifetime membership to Rouxbe, a phenomenal online cooking school through which I went from "what's a kitchen?" to making some really fantastic dishes. There's no investment quite like one that will help you sustain yourself physically and keep you healthy while allowing you to be more frugal by eating out less. Learning to cook properly is absolutely key.

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heidi

What it boils down to, for me, is not the tangible, physical items: a laptop, a home, a car. But the investment of fleeting time in the face of a known end. A few days to hold my dad's hand and just be there are all that it took for me to realize memories are the best returns, ones that I can conjure up during adversity and reflect upon at will.

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Christina

My smartest investment has been time and effort in the U.S. Air Force. Military service there taught me discipline, humility, resourcefulness, respect for others, and introduced me to my love of technology. My service also qualified me for federal aid that, in turn, allowed me to get my engineering degree that has definitely paid off thousandfold (is that even a word?)!

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Stacy

My smartest investment is a pair of suede shoes with a thick sole. I bought them with my first real job and they were not on sale--over $100 about 10 years ago. It was quite an extravagance then and was totally for fashionable purposes, but they still look great and I've worn them regularly every year since. Since they're super warm and the thick sole keeps me from slipping, I've never bought a pair of winter boots, even after moving to Colorado. I don't know what I'll do when they finally bite the dust!

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Kim

The best investment I made was staying home with my children. I've seen them grow, go to school, find their own voices, bicker with those same voices, laugh, cry and experience all the ups and downs of life. I've enjoyed every minute of it. Okay, not every minute, but most of them.

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Kristen

The smartest investment I ever made was to expand and renovate my kitchen. In addition to adding value to my home, it has created a comfortable space for me to cook and bake from scratch - saving my family money and contributing to our better health.

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Ceinwyn R

The smartest investment I ever made was my laptop. I've used it to streamline our small business accounting with Quickbooks and I make extra money writing copy for small business websites as well.

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Colleen

The smartest investment I have made as a mother (photographer by hobby) has been a great camera Canon Rebel T2i. I have saved hundreds to thousands of dollars on my childrens pictures, portraits, Christmas photos and gifts for Grandparents, etc. I have also used my camera as a way to provide house warming presents for my friends and they love it!

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Staycee

The smartest investment I've ever made is a subscription to a cooking magazine. Before buckling down to reign in our grocery spending, meals and costs were all over the place. I dreaded mealtime because I didn't know what to make or if it would be in the cupboard/refrigerator. Since subscribing, I cook healthy meals for my family. We have variety. And the most important thing: My grocery budget for a family of five has been $100 a week for *five* wonderful years (the length of time I've been tackling the menu weekly). The magazine that arrives bi-monthly inspires me to meal plan. That in turn has helped the budget! I know that sounds small, but this investment has allowed me to focus energy elsewhere helping me make smart investments in other areas of my life!

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Stefan

The smartest investment I have ever made was buying the very first iPod. I use it almost everyday and although the battery is wearing down on me it still works. It has also helped me eliminate all of my CD's.

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Bruce Weigman

Common stock of Digital Equipment Corporation in 1982. DEC was a co-developer of the ethernet 802.3 specification and their stock rose and split several times. As HP, surely knows, they are now defunct after having been the second largest computer company in the world!

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Brian Thomas

The smartest “investment” I’ve ever made was the cost of an overdraft fee on my first checking account when I was 18 years old. This experience taught me valuable lessons about money, interest and expenses. I realize this is not a typical investment but it sure was an investment in my lifetime financial health. This experience also tought me the importance of maintaining an excellent credit score, the impact of credit inquiries, trade lines, etc.

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Nancy M

hiring a financial planner was the smartest financial move i've ever made. even when i lost a lot of money when my then-employer worldcom went belly-up, she helped me to still eventually retire.

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Lee

The best investment I ever made was in a new baseball glove for my adult softball league. In my first game with the glove I made a sliding catch in the outfield making a snow cone catch. After the game a lovely young lady approached me from the other team and we struck up a conversation about softball, love and life. Turns out she was a temporary employee at the other team's company. You can guess what happened next: We never did got out on a date but I found her a job at my organization and received a $2,000 referral bonus. Best investment for a $75 glove. Great margin.

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Lisa Goyette

I would have to say the smartest investment we made was building a 1 bedroom apartment off the back of out garage. We we built it 12 years ago for somewhere around 32,000 and have been able to rent it out for $700 a month.

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allison phipps

The smarteset investment i have ever made was going to a community college instead of a big university. i am finishing up my associates degree then moving on to a 4 year school. i saved a lot of time and money by doing so. i also rent my books instead of buying them used.

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Wendy

Best investment i made was in AAU Basketball for my daughter. As of result of hard work, she is now being recruiter by colleges for her skills.

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Heidi

The smartest investment I ever made was rescuing my two dogs. Not only are they adored members of our family, they are proof that a rescue dog is just as good, if not better, than one that comes from irresponsible breeders and pet stores. They bring our family such joy and companionship which is truly priceless.

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Diane L.

My daughter! Far and away the best "investment" I ever made. We met when I was experiencing my first hot flashes and thought I would never be a mom and she was 15 and making her way in a tough world. We met and, for me, it was love at first sight. It wasn't what either of us thought would happen at that point in our livesand created chaos for both of us but today I look at her as a young wife and mother of two and know that it was absolutely the right investment at the right time!

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Betsy Ayers

My smartest investment was my Master's degree (in education) that I obtained in 1997 - it paid for itself the first year. It's said that you don't go into public school teaching for the money, but I have really appreciated my income as well as the chance to work with cool kids on the adventure of learning. A Master's degree just makes a lot of difference in pay!

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Kelly M.

It may sound corny but the smartest investment I ever made was tithing. It took me a decade to decide to "pay God first". I have faithfully been tithing for several years now and our family has always had just enough and sometimes unexpected windfalls. I never even notice that 10% missing!

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ERHR

My best investment was my college education at the "liberal arts school of engineering." Of course, everything I got out of it in terms of education, experiences, skills, etc. goes without saying. The particular two ways this investment has paid off are:

1) A professor helped me network into my first post-college job, the recommendation from which directly led to me gaining admission to a much better grad school in my field than I should have given my stats.

2) I met the man who eventually became my husband. In the years we have been together he has proven himself an excellent partner - certainly in money management, which has increased our net worth - in many areas as well.

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Brandon P

Smartest investment I ever made was to go to college but more specifically USC. There are numerous colleges in Los Angeles that have received awards for being a top school in the nation. However, schools such as UCLA do not have the same quality found at USC. By attending USC, I was shown so much opportunity to advance as an individual and as an engineer. I was shown career paths that tailored to my interests. Furthermore, their networking system is magnificent which landed me my first internship and my first job.

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Carissa

The Best Investment I Ever made was deciding to stay home with my children. I had worked full-time and my paycheck was extra money but being at home to raise my children was the best investment and I will never regret it. People are more important than anything material.

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Carissa

The Best Investment I Ever made was deciding to stay home with my children. I had worked full-time and my paycheck was extra money but being at home to raise my children was the best investment and I will never regret it. People are more important than anything material. It is something that can never be replaced.

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PharmD

My best investment is my education. After earning my bachelor's degree (and deciding it just wasn't the career I thought it would be), I went back to school. After earning my pharmacy degree (Pharm.D), I can't say I have any regrets. It is a field in demand with good earning potential, and most importantly, a career that I love and am engaged in every single day at work.

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Camille C.

I took a series of computer classes at a local community college in the mid-1990's. I could type, but had no experience with MS Word, Excel, etc. It opened up my career choices vastly. Like most people, I use a PC at work every day. I'm also a freelance journalist, so learning those programs was absolutely necessary, and lucrative!

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Rachel

The best investment I ever made was putting a thousand bucks into an emergency fund. Sleeping better at night is priceless.

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Moira

My art classes are yielding a nice return on my talent and thereby my home business. Along the same lines, paying for a separate studio space to work on said art work. I have been 10 times more productive in that space than at home.

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c.e.sievers

The smartest investment I ever made was time for myself. I get up an hour earlier than the rest of the household, and I can do anything I want with that time - read, have a cup of coffee, take a walk.

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Michelle in Htown

My first PC was the smartest investment I've ever made. It was way back in 1991, and it started me on a lifelong journey of freelance writing. Still love my PC (sorry, Apple).

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Megan

The smartest investment I ever made was marrying my husband, who is a great provider, religious leader, protector, husband, and father. He is supportive of me as a person, as a mother, and in my career. He works 40 hours a week and still manages to come home and take care of our home, his wife, and his daughter. Perhaps the most important thing is that he is the head of our Christian household and a firm believer in God as our savior.

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Tom R.

My best investment I've made was in accepting the love and guidance of Jesus Christ. Also, I bought one of those iPod Touch MP3 players and that is pretty cool too.

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Laura Elizabeth

I started a Mary Kay business in my home. I have not worked super hard at it, buy I have made some profits, plus the fact that I haven't paid for makeup or skincare products in almost two years, out of my regular income! Plus, I have been able to talk about this experience at job interviews (I graduate college in December) and it has been a huge selling point for me!

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Guest

My smartest investment was purchasing my home when I was 18. It is now paid off and have one less bill to worry about with times like these.

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Ann Bromwell

THE BEST INVESTMENT I EVER MADE WAS IN GIVING MY CHILDREN A GOOD START IN LIFE BY GIVING THEM RULES TO LIVE BY AND LOTS OF LOVE. NOW, THEY ARE PRODUCTIVE LOVING PEOPLE AND I DON'T HAVE TO SPEND MY TIME WORRYING ABOUT HOW THEY WILL MAKE IT IN LIFE!

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Easier to answer this for my photography business than my personal life. Smartest investment was probably upgrading my camera to full frame before I had any bookings. I had the cash, sure, but no promise of photography revenue whatsoever. That camera made my photos so much better, made me feel like a professional, and opened so many doors for me. It was also nice to invest in myself and my goals.

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AD

The smartest investment I've made so far has been my law school education. Although I sometimes regret all the student loans, I love what I do and wouldn't change a thing.

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Chris

The best investment i ever made was in myself. Going to college and paying my own way through took a long time but was well worth the investment.

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Elayne Lockett

The best ever investment I have ever made is in the time I have spent, nuturing, mothering and training my children. They are now grown, educated, well adjusted and gainfully employed citizens. Contributing to the worth of the World.

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Annette Brown

Last month, my local Target had an overstock of EA Sports Active 2 games and was selling them for $10. I purchased ten of them and put them on Half.com. So far I have sold 4 for $25.00 and made a nice profit to pay down my debt.

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Steve

I completed a 30,000 MAT program two years ago. I could have gone to a cheaper school, but opted for this one for philosophical reasons. I recently got a job teaching at ama amazing school, and in the interview they told me they essentially only looked at people from my MAT program.

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Tim Anderson

Buying my sisters car. And buying some Apple Computer stock.

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StephaniePH

I bought a home owners policy just before Hurricane Fran in 1996. After seven trees down, including 2 on my home and 1 on my barn, and flooding that lasted a few days, I was very grateful to have paid that premium in full.

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Lisa Flynn

Becoming involved in the savings programs of every job I've held since my 1st. These investments which have been things like 401K's and pensions have really helped my future retirement. Also my property which I bought in 2000 for $40,000 and is now worth $250,000.

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Beth

The best investment I've ever made was a college degree in liberal arts. The flexibility it has given me has allowed me to change careers, make connections between what I have done and could do, to question and analyze aspects of my life and the ability to research for information in all aspects of my life. It also gave me strong writing and reading skills.

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Patrick

The smartest investment I have made has been my smart phone. With the amount I use it every day it has been well worth the cost and helped to improve my life dramatically.

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karon carter

can't say i have made any good investments. i am barely surviving financially. my degree allows me to be exposed to every disease that comes around as well as the rude people who expose themselves to said disease. i have never started a business and don't even know what IT costs are so i may have them just running rampant.

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Katie

The smartest investment I ever made was a personal commitment to make my life better. Once I decided to make positive changes on a personal level, everything else fell into place. I met a wonderful man I eventually married, made a career change to the more rewarding field of non-profit, and realized that I couldn't help make the world a better place until I started with myself.

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The best investment I EVER made was 14 years of piano lessons including paying my way through college majoring in music. I have been able to both teach music in school and give private piano lessons for the past 10 years which has more than paid off both monetarily and otherwise. Nothing is more fulfilling than watching a child you are teaching thrive at your passion!

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ky2here

Easily my best investment is our house. WE were so lucky to find an affordable 1883 Eastlake Victorian. We're set.

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David

Over the past few years, my focus has changed from what I need to today to what I will need tomorrow. As part of the is refocusing, I have investing a lot of time in learning about financial investing. I have read several books now and subscribe to several financial blogs. This has helped tremendously. I have a reduced my debt considerably (no more CC debt), put a retirement plan together, and have a plan to put my children through college.

This investment in learning has greatly improved my future outlook.

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AppleTree

This is perhaps somewhat out there, but my best investment has been my dog. He has taught my husband and I so much about life and about each other. He's taken care of us emotionally when some serious stuff has happened. And, most importantly, he's prepared us to be better parents in a few months.

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The investment that most paid off for me was and investment of two years working two jobs when it graduated from high school. I worked as a receptionist for a hotel from 11pm-8am 5 days a week in order to pay for school and working part time at one of the computer labs for the community college that I was attending full time. I was able to pull it off and the things i learned during that time have helped me become better and gave me a better idea about what things I wanted for my life.

Guest's picture

My smartest investment was a cheap nickel stock called Time Warner Communications, it was $0.17 ea for a share. Now its worth $25 a share. I should have bought more.

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Stephen Watkins

Standard savings account, at a very low (but positive!) interest rate. Automatically insured by the federal govenment, which is better than watching it dwindle away in falling stocks.

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TangoDelta

My smartest investment was buying a four letter domain name to use to start a literary website in 1995 (just before Yahoo went online). Almost as soon as it was launched, that literary magazine got so much positive attention that it led to me starting my own web design business which allowed me to finally work from home.

Years later, when I didn't feel like maintaining the literary site any more, I was able to sell the domain name for money that was used for the downpayment on a house.

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Candi

The best investment I ever made is actually one that I make 2-3 times a week - going to dance class! See, I'm one of those girls (can I still call myself a girl when I'm less than a month from 48 years old?) who did what I was supposed to do. I made straight As in school. I practiced piano 45 minutes a day because my mom wanted me to. I went to work, tried to be a good mom, and all those other activities responsible people do. However, about 4 years ago, I discovered something totally unexpected about myself. I went to a Zumba class - solely in an attempt to lose those stubborn last 5 pounds, but something in me changed that day. I discovered that I love to dance. I found a reason to love to sweat. And dance time is sacred. It's my time to let go of all of my stress and all of my expectations for myself...to get out of my head and into my body. To look in the mirror and make eye contact and smile with the other people in my class who finally let go of their self-consciousness and just move to the beat.

It's more than exercise though. Dancing has helped me say "No" to others' expectations for me - without guilt. Dancing has helped me say "Yes" to myself. I'm more likely now to be in tune with my body--resting when I need to, drinking water when I'm thirsty, exulting in what I CAN do instead of lamenting what I can't yet do. Dancing made me realize that my story is not completely written, and that's exciting!

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Annalisa Kraft

The best investment I ever made was owning a house . The reason it was the best investment was that I sold it in 2007 for as high a profit as I would ever get and now I can rent without worrying about home repairs or taxes anymore.

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John McLain

My best return-on-investment has been the nurturing and support that I've provided to my two sons. Today both are capable, skilled and thriving young men. I'm proud of them because they put themselves through school and work hard to stand on their own feet. They're the best investment I've ever made.

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Denise

The smartest investment that i ever made was in myself through education. The degree didnt matter so much as the confidence it gave me to go for the job i want and now a promotion

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Josh

The smartest investment I've ever made was in my first car. It was the worst vehicle that I have ever owned, which might make it seem like a stupid investment. However, it taught me the value of not skimping on items in which reliability is a requirement. I walked a lot of places, and probably ended up spending at least as much money on repairs over the two years I owned it as I had purchasing the vehicle in the first place. I'm happy I got to learn that on that vehicle when I had very few other financial obligations than I have through vehicles since.

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Kate Bix

The two best investments I have made are:
Learning how to cook from scratch. Bulk grains are cheaper and food tastes better when it is made by me. My household is gluten-free and gf prepared food is expensive. I make it, there is no cross contamination, and it is infinitely less expensive.
Learning Spanish. For whatever reason, this country does not embrace bilingualism. By speaking another language I am able to make myself more valuable in the job market.

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Lincoln Haresign

The smartest investment I ever made was in buying my first house. It was a bit fixer-upper. We improved it and we were able to sell it several years later doubling our initial investment (down payment) and having a place to live during that time.

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theresa

The best thing I did for myself was enrolling in college classes while going thru a brutal divorce. It helped boost my sagging self esteem and gave me a reason to leave the house and be around other people. Even tho I was much older than most students and some people were skeptical, I continued to take classes and got 2 associates degrees. What I accomplished by myself cannot be diminished or taken away - I recommend any woman in a bad relationship to do something just for themselves and go back to school.

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marion

My pool membership. Its an investment in my health. Swimming makes me healthy, feel young and helps me focus more on everything in my life.

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Marianna

Going back to school and obtaining my Bacclaureate degree in Nursing was the best investment I've ever made. Despite the fact that I'm still paying off student loans, I nearly tripled my pre-college degree income after only having been out of college for five years.

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tallcapp

The smartest investment I ever made, was buying the townhouse I live in now. A friend talked me into it almost 25 years ago, when I could just barely afford it. Now the payments are really easy and the house has quadrupled in value.

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Jane

It may sound simple, but investing in a good pair of rain boots was a lifesaver to me. I walk to the train station to commute to work, and one day of working with wet calves was enough for a lifetime. They aren't something I wear every day and I had trouble rationalizing spending the extra money, but I had to walk through a flash flood a few weeks ago and they definitely paid for themselves. With the cold weather coming, I am pleased with my decision to splurge.

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Diane Mendenhall

My best investment was my education. Even though I am not working in my field, I use the skills I learned on the job. This has been the case for every job I had.

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Roxanna

The best investment I have made is in my education. I feel that regardless of the high price and financial burden it put me through for so many years, it is an achievement that I will carry with me forever!
anglesmr[at]gmail[dot]com

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Sylvie W

It was my first home computer. This gave me access to unlimited information on the internet and also the ability to handle business paperwork at home.

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Nicole

The best investment I've ever made has been my computer. From easily finding deals to save money, to being able to educate myself about a variety of topics, to finding connections with people (from all over the world) I might never have known, my computer has more than proved itself as a good investment.

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Stormie

Smartest investment I ever made was my husband.. We have been together for 20 years have 3 beautiful very bright children and while he was with the Army over in Iraq I cleaned up his credit score. We now after many hard years of him fighting wild land fires and military we are buying our own house, live in a small town with a couple horses and lovely fruit trees.

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mere :)

the best investment i ever made was psychotherapy. when i began, i was in such a bad place mentally and emotionally that it severely impacted my relationships with my family (wasn't speaking to my mother), my then-boyfriend (who broke up with me), my friends (i had completely isolated myself), at work (i was asked to take a small "break"--thankfully they didn't fire me), and my schoolwork (i almost failed out of my BA program). after 5 challenging years of psychotherapy, i learned to recognize my emotional triggers, how to modify my behaviors/reactions, and have also improved my self-esteem. now at 28, my mom is one of my best friends, that then-boyfriend is now my husband, i have a great group of friends that i see regularly, and i found a new career path that makes me happy to get out of bed in the morning. i am thankful everyday that i made the investment then to improve my mental health.

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Tony

Opening an IRA with Mutual Series mutual funds. This was before they were acquired by Franklin Templeton, so now I'm grandfathered in with them as no load.

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Zappo23

The smartest investment I ever made was in purchasing two web domains for news reporting sites. I earned invaluable experience in web hosting, design, community management and content production and it has inspired me to pursue my Bachelor's degree in communications, which I am halfway to getting!

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RICHARD CARPENTER

GETTING AN EDUCATION, CONSTANTLY LEARNING, KEEPING MY EDUCATION CURRENT AND STARTING MY OWN BUSINESS is the smartest investment I HAVE ever made. IN LIFE YOU HAVE TO CREATE YOUR OWN JOB.

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christina moore

The smartest investment that I have made,is when I bought my first computer. It open up a whole new world to me.

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Guest1

My smartest investment was in my education. My investment was more time than money because I had to keep a certain grade to keep my scholarship. My degree has lead me to many new opportunities, and even to my husband.

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chris wall

buying my red nose pittbull.he is a burglar deterant/alarm system,lonliness repelant,spider and bug killer,and child protectant all rolled into one.

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Carolyn

My rescued dogs were the best investments I could have ever made. When my boys were young, their dad left us. Shortly afterward, a beautiful Lab mix found his way to us and was just what we needed to comfort all 3 of us.
Fast forward 20 years, the boys are grown and our beautiful Lab is now watching over us. I remarried and adopted the sweetest Border collie mix. My husband recently passed away and if it was not for my pooch here to comfort me, I would have been more lost than I am. Therefore, any and all money spent on my dogs is worth every penney. They practically saved my life.

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Robyn

The best investment I have made so far would have to be taking a personal finance class with my husband. We will hit our 1 year anniversary on Oct 2 and I would have to say that the class we are taking is really allowing us to take hold of our finances and make a plan for our future! It is amazing how much of our money is "wasted" every month on things that we don't really need. We have been taking the class for about a month and have found that we can have his student loan paid off by the end of October - talk about an awesome anniversary gift!!

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jamie peshka

My smartest investment is google stock. I love the stock market, we I am doing well. Thanks!!

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Keri Ritenour

The smartest investment I made was that of TIME! Once it's gone, you can't get it back. Did it cost me anything? Not monetarily, but it did cost me something. More time. You see, instead of focusing on me and my needs, I started focusing on others. I realized, through the help of others, that I am second. It is the best investment I ever made and it makes me feel great!

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Ann

I never thought I would think like this, let alone say it outloud, but I have to say that purchasing a
used minivan and then paying it off early was a great investment. It is very useful whether I am
driving around a bunch of teenagers or taking donations to the salvation army.
I am hoping to get another 100,000 miles out of it.

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Jennifer

My smartest investment was pots for container gardening (I live in a second-story apartment). They were sort of an expensive up-front cost for such a "cheap" hobby, but I love being able to feed myself and my husband with food I grew on our balcony. It tastes better, I know exactly how it was grown, and the cost of the pots diminishes over time with every year that I use them.

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Laura

My Droid smart phone is by far my best investment. I can keep my work and home organized. And be connected on the go!

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Kimberly

My best investment in my career has been joining a tri-level (local, state, national) professional association. Through NALS, the Association of Legal Professionals, I have access to networking, certification, legal education, and fun. As with other associations, you get what you give. I invest my time, dues, and attention and I reap dividends of professional and personal relationships with my peers, access to legal education, and the opportunity to obtain a nationally recognized certification in my field.

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My best investment -- still fresh in my mind, anyway -- is buying a personal articles insurance policy. We decided to get it ($30/year) for our laptop computers -- including the new one we were planning to give my step-son for his 12th birthday. This policy would cover damages such as dropping the computer, or spilling liquid on it.

Not even a year later, he and a friend were wrestling and managed to kneel on the laptop, cracking its screen internally. All it took was a phone call to my insurance company, and they sent us a check to cover the cost of the laptop and the software installed.

Definitely worth it, in my opinion!

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Lorena

I'm not sure if it's the best investment I've ever made, but I'd have to say getting an Android smartphone late last year was a great investment for a couple of reasons. I had originally gotten it because of my job -- I'm the editor of an online news outlet and the phone allows me to post breaking news and photos from anywhere.

However, I found it more handy once I had my baby earlier this summer. With my phone, I'm able to take photos of him at will, read ebooks, blog posts and online news during late-night feeding sessions, and e-mail and text message with family and friends one-handed. It has really come in handy!

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Kelly Bernard

The smartest investment I've made it when I committed myself to become a life longer learner than goes beyond getting a college degree. I'm a first generation college graduate with an associate degree and am currently working on getting a bachelor in Human Resource Management. I regularly look for professional development opportunities to keep/build on my skills such as grant writing and social media. I also maximize the full value of my employer's tuition/professional development reimbursement program, so there is little olut of pocket expense.