50 Great Things to Do With $50

There’s not much you can buy for a dollar these days, but 50 big ones can still score you something pretty decent.

From funding in a Kickstarter campaign to updating your kitchenware to pampering your pet, here are 50 ideas on how you can spend half a Benjamin and not feel too bad about it. (See also: 10 Smart Things to Do With $25)

1. Pick Up a Nice Bottle of Wine

Stop drinking the cheap stuff. Splurge for a better bottle, and make tonight a special occasion just because.

2. Tip Your Service Provider(s)

Did you give your mail carrier, door attendant, super, or other service provider a tip during the holiday season? If not, use the extra money as an opportunity to make amends.

3. Replace Old Pots and Pans

Kitchenware isn’t cheap, but there are times when you can score great deals on skillets and other cooking essentials. If something you need falls below $50, go for it.

4. Catch Up on Bills

If you’re behind on bills, put the money toward what you owe. Even if it’s not the full amount, it still counts. You don’t want to rack up any more late fees, do you?

5. Take a Friend to the Movies

A matinee might not cost the full $50, but an evening show with drinks and popcorn will come pretty darn close. Just make sure you invite a friend who’s worth it.

6. Have Your Oil Changed

Haven't you put this off long enough? 

7. Stock Up on Toiletries and Grooming Products

Toothpaste, deodorant, and hair products are all pricey. Stock up now, and put these items away until you run out of what you already have.

8. Invest in the Stock Market

Open an E-Trade account, and buy stock in an up-and-coming company whose shares are at basement-level prices.

9. Donate to Charity

I prefer support local charities instead of national organizations because I feel like my money will directly impact someone needy in my community.

10. Go Grocery Shopping

Is your fridge almost empty? Make a stop at the supermarket to grab good food to make yourself a few nice meals.

11. Treat Yourself to New Clothes

I recently bought myself a new pair of shorts for summer. They were a much smarter and cheaper purchase than the sneakers that I was eyeing up. Although I still have my fingers crossed on the sneakers; my birthday is coming up, and I sent a tip to the Birthday Fairy informing him about the shoes.

12. Make Goodies Boxes for Your Neighbors

Buy all the ingredients you need to make several batches of cookies or muffins, plus boxes, bags, baskets, and ribbons to make a nice presentation to give to your neighbors. 

13. Buy a Bus Ticket and Visit Friends or Family

Greyhound has affordable prices. I scored a ticket from NYC to Baltimore for this weekend for $48 round trip.

14. Score Tickets to an Event

You can find cheap tickets to sporting events and concerts on StubHub. Browse the selection, and find something cool that’s within your budget.

15. Send Your Mom a Present

Seriously, don’t forget. Mother’s Day is in less than two weeks.

16. Help Fund a Kickstarter Project

You never know — your gift might help someone create a product that will change the world. That’d be pretty cool to be a part of.

17. Plan a One-Night Staycation

Book an available room or apartment nearby using Airbnb. It’ll be like spending the night at a hotel — but for waaaay less.

18. Give It to Your Partner or Kids

Under one condition — they must leave the house for the better part of the day so you can relax.

19. Hire Someone to Clean Your House

Yes, you should probably do this yourself. But why bother when someone else is willing to do it for you?

20. Visit a Local Spa

Day passes are usually between $30 and $50, which gives you access to everything the facility has to offer. This is a great way to unwind and de-stress.

21. Schedule a Hair Appointment

Get a quick ’do update. 

22. Splurge on a New Video Game

I would suggest buying two games for less than $25 rather than one game at $50. My way means double the fun.

23. Purchase Fresh Pillows

When was the last time you replaced the pillows on your bed? Pick up a couple quality head-resters and look forward to a good night’s sleep.

24. Snag a Few Daily Deals

Check Groupon, LivingSocial, and other deal sites to find money-saving offers and activities in your neck of the woods.

25. Buy New Socks and Underwear

It’s time to retire some of your rattier undergarments and replace them with undies and socks that your sweetie actually wants to see you in.

26. Start a _____________ Fund

Have your eye on something that costs more than $50? Start a fund specifically for that item with the $50 you have now.

27. Pamper Your Pet

Treat your pet to a day of play and a few new toys and goodies. 

28. Have Your Car Detailed

Keeping it clean will help with resale value down the road.

29. Start a Garden

I recently went to Home Depot and bought a plastic tub, dirt, and herb seeds to grow a small garden on my roof.

30. Update Your iPad

Buy a few new movies, books, music downloads, or apps.

31. Spring for Two New Ties

You should always look good at the office. And if you’re paying more than $25 per tie, you’re shopping at the wrong stores.

32. Gas Up the Car

Hurry, before prices start climbing again.

33. Order a Disaster Kit

Better safe than sorry. This pre-packed disaster kit might very well save your life or help you save someone else’s.

34. Adopt a Dog or Cat

Visit your local shelter to fall in love with a wonderful dog or cat in need of a forever home.

35. Send Your Grandmother a Gift

She’s not your mom, but she’s still a mother — and she loves you like you were her own. Show her your appreciation by sending her something that will make her day.

36. Take Cold-Weather Coats and Sweaters to the Dry Cleaner

Have the items cleaned now so they’re ready to wear come fall.

37. Join a Social Sports League

I’ve played social sports (dodgeball, kickball, bowling) in two cities, and each league was $50 or less to join. Plus, you get to make friends while you’re having fun. Totally worth the investment. 

38. Plan a Date Night at Home

If you have On Demand, you can purchase pre-theater movies on your TV. They cost a bit more than the just-released titles — some can be up to $14.99 — but it’s worth the money if it’s a film you would have seen in theater anyway. Pick up some junk food too. Before the show starts, make munchies and milkshakes.

39. Add an Extra-Special Touch to a Getaway

If you’ve already planned a vacation, look into adding something more romantic to the package. B&B owners in particular are generally open to helping you enhance your stay with candlelight dinners, picnics, and other activities. I’m sure you can find just the right thing for $50 or less.

40. Renew a Membership or Subscription

Whether it’s a membership to a wholesale club or a subscription to your favorite magazine, update it now while you have the extra cash.

41. Make It Rain

Do you know what it feels like to drop money on unsuspecting people? Find out by going to your local mall with a pocket full of one-dollar bills and making it rain. You’ll puts smiles on lots of faces, and you might even get away with it if you hightail it out of there before security catches up with you.

42. Buy Supplies for a Local School

I know needy school kids along with teachers who have to buy all their own classroom supplies. Help students and educators out by picking up school supplies that the whole class can enjoy and dropping them off. 

43. Book a Massage Appointment

You may have to do your research to find a masseur who will give you a massage for less than $50, but even if the hour price is out of your budget you can ask if he or she offers more affordable 30-minute sessions.

44. Put It Into a Savings Account

Of course this is no fun, but it is the responsible thing to do. You never know when you might need that $50.

45. Make Repairs Around the House

I’m sure there are a few small projects you’ve neglected. Maybe it’s replacing a few light bulbs or batteries, or perhaps you need organization supplies to clean up the garage. Whatever it is, make it your mission to take care of it with your $50.

46. Do Something You’ve Never Done Before

Try a new restaurant. See a new show. Find something in your area that you haven’t done yet and do it.

47. Create a Work of Art for Your Home

Pick up a blank canvas and a few supplies and channel your inner Andy Warhol.

48. Hide It In Your Wallet for a Rainy Day

Out of sight, out of mind. Hide a $50 bill in your wallet to use in emergencies. Much better than having to swipe the plastic.

49. Get a Tattoo

This isn’t for everybody, but you can get a small tattoo for around $50 if you want one.

50. Play Blackjack

It’s a risk, but if you know what you’re doing you can double your money in an instant.

Tell me, what would you do with an extra $50 in your pocket? Let me know in the comments below.

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50 Great Things to Do With $50

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Guest's picture

Great ideas! To a lot of people, $50 may be a small amount and there are not much things that can be done with it. On the other hand, I have known that I can do a lot of things with my extra $50. If I have an extra $50 right now, I will immediately purchase a new set of pots and pans, or a set of silverware, or add it to our savings.

Guest's picture
Thrifty Writer

Some great ideas, but I'd be careful about buying something that requires more money upkeep. Like a pet, for example. Pets are great, but they have a continuing cost, in terms of food, shots, visits to the vet, etc. I wouldn't spend a $50 windfall on a pet if I wasn't sure that I'd be able maintain its good health.

Guest's picture

Cool ideas. I like the idea of donating to a charity or making it rain....lol.

Guest's picture

Ahh, although these are all great ideas I cant help thinking how little $50 is these days! Thanks for reminding me of the phrase 'save it for a rainy day' I haven't heard that one for ages!

Guest's picture

Go camping for the weekend! Even after the park fees, i have enough for something special on the grill to enjoy.

Guest's picture

Fund two Kiva entrepreneurs! Plus, once your loans are paid back, you can fund two more!

Guest's picture
Jeremy R

Great list, If you have an extra fifty dollars lying around. The best way to use them is to get yourself something nice or treat yourself. For example the day spa or the wine. Maybe a new pair of shoes. It feels good to treat yourself to a little gift every now and again, i know i do. fifty dollars isn't alot, but it's just enough.

Guest's picture

I'm 19 years old and if its one thing the Armed Forces taught me, it was the value of a Dollar. $50 is something I believe many would take for granted. Toiletries, kitchenware, hell even a nice CD of the genre of your choice is a very welcoming thing. Personally I would put it towards a vacation jar/fund. I am quite fond of the E trade idea however.

Guest's picture

I have $19010 on my paypal - what should I do?

Guest's picture

I would have a night devoted to me and my girlfriends. I would hit the arcade, go bowling, catch a movie, go out on a date, go to the spa, get a haircut, get a Brazilian bikini wax, hell the possibilities are endless.

Guest's picture

If you're paying even twenty-five dollars on a tie, you're shopping at the wrong place.

Guest's picture

Im just a kid so I dont think I can do some of this things... Please create a kid one

Guest's picture

If you have a device then purchase so games or something fun