What You Can Buy With $5,000

If I had a million dollars…

So the song by Canadian alt rockers Barenaked Ladies goes. While it may be fun to imagine what you would spend a cool mill on, it's a lot more realistic to imagine that you may find yourself with $5K to dispose of as you wish. Maybe you got a big tax refund this year, or an unknown uncle left you a little something.

Whatever the backstory, here are 11 fun and/or responsible things you could do with $5,000.

1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt

The average American household with credit card debt owes about $15,000. If this is you, making only the monthly minimum payment at a very typical 15% annual interest rate, it could take you seven years to pay off — and you'd end up wasting $8,000 to $9,000 on interest.

Pay down $5,000 of that debt now, and you could finish paying the rest in half the time, for only about $3,000 total interest. (See also: Use a Balance Transfer to Pay Off Debt Faster)

2. Get a Cat

Half leopard, half house cat, the Bengal is a beautiful animal and can be yours for just about $5,000.

If being ignored by one feline doesn't cut it for you, you can get more cat for your cash by adopting. With an average fee of around $100, you could bring home 50 felines for $5,000. Then again, maybe you'll need to save some money for litter and food — and a really good vacuum cleaner.

3. Start a Business

There are a number of low-overhead businesses you could start with a $5,000 or smaller investment, many of them work-from-home gigs such as being a virtual assistant (expenses include computer, phone, Internet, and possibly training and marketing). You could also buy a small franchise, such as a hot dog cart, for $5,000 or less.

4. Take Your Inner Geek on a Vacation of a Lifetime

For about $5,000, you can take the Lord of The Rings New Zealand Tour. The trip includes staying at the adorable Hobbit Hotel — but second breakfasts and elevenses are on you.

5. Bank It

Interest rates are still low, but you can get some return on your money if you deposit it.

EverBank currently pays 0.61% on its money market accounts and compounds interest daily, so after five years of compounding interest, you would have $5,154. So basically, after five years of saving, you'll have earned enough interest to buy a scooter or have your house cleaned once.

4. Give It to an Old Person: Future You

If you're not regularly depositing money in an IRA from your paycheck, you can meet almost the entire year's maximum deposit with a $5,000 lump sum contribution.

Because traditional IRAs grow tax-free, you might be amazed at how much your $5,000 deposit could blossom into by the time you retire. Assuming a 7% annual return, if you deposit $5,000 at age 20, you could have more than $50,000 by age 65. Not bad!

5. Indulge Yourself for a Year

For $5,000, you could get a one-year subscription to a whiskey club ($600), a Kobi beef of the month club ($1,250), a seafood of the month club (about $1,660), a candy of the month club (about $300), and order one in-home massage per month ($1,200). A great deal for xenophobes, freelance writers, or folks on house arrest!

6. Donate to Charity

It will make you feel great, and you can deduct your gift from your taxable income. Make sure your recipient is a qualified nonprofit — you can look it up on the IRS website — and remember that you need a letter of verification from the charity for all donations over $250.

9. Eat a Burger

The Fleurburger 5000, served at Hubert Keller's Fleur eatery in Las Vegas, is made with Wagyu beef, foie gras, shaved black truffles, and truffle oil. It comes with a bottle of fine wine — and fries.

10. Grill Your Own Burgers In an Outdoor Kitchen

While you can flip burgers on the most inexpensive hibachi, making your yard into a plein air living space where you can comfortably cook starts around $5,000 for a decent grill, an island with a built-in refrigerator, and a dining set.

11. Skip Waiting in Lines for a Year

Estimates for how much time Americans spend waiting in line in a lifetime vary from two to five years. That boils down to hundreds of hours per year! You can pay line waiters about $25 per hour on TaskRabbit or through local services. So for $5,000, you can get out of 200 hours of line waiting. Pro tip: Don't blow it all on one phone.

What would you do with $5000?

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Guest's picture

I am surprised paying extra on a mortgage was not listed. Not only would I save hundreds in interest, the equity is mine. In effect, I pay $5000 to save hundreds and get to keep the money.