10 Smart Ways to Spend One Dollar

Business Insider

There are lots of stupid ways to spend a dollar.

You could blow it on a bar of candy, which gives you a couple of minutes and gives you a bunch of empty calories.

You could buy a lottery ticket, which is in fact the equivalent of paying someone to take your money.

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Or you could think outside the box and get something actually worthwhile.

Feed a Family in India for the Day

In poverty stricken countries, a little goes a really long way.

Although India is one of the world's fastest growing economies, more than 25 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and the country battles enormous economic disparity. The poorest 10 percent of the country consumes 3.2 percent of the goods, while the richest 10 percent buy 31.1 percent, according to the CIA factbook.

Instead of throwing your dollar to the wind with the lottery, you could give it to an organization like Opportunity International that helps women start businesses to support their children or Garden Harvest, which helps rural Indian families buy goats and other animals.

Prepare a Vegetable Meal -- and Better Support Your Local Farmer Too

Visiting your local farmer's markets is not only fun and free, but lets you buy locally-grown, farm fresh produce for cheap. 

Rogerk's blog, a personal finance site, suggests you make a meal out of any one-dollar item you buy, and have some friends over try your "one-dollar menu."

Another great reason to spend your buck at the farmer's market is to support your local farming community.  It's a way to reinvest the money you spend back into your town (much like Small Business Saturday).

Get Sweet Threads at a Thrift Store

Thrift stores offer great steals for super cheap, including fancy winter items like fur jackets and boots. The deals become even more appealing with merchandise that's been sitting in the shop a while.

What's better, the money goes to charitable causes. Goodwill, for example, helps ex-drug addicts get off the streets, Housing Works in New York City provides for the homeless infected with HIV, and Out of the Closet in Los Angeles also assists those carrying the deadly virus.

Bonus: If you donate items to one of these organizations, you'll earn yourself a nice tax deduction.

Support Your Favorite Artist

Piracy takes an incredible toll on the music industry, from songwriters to producers and so on.

A study by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimates piracy can be blamed for $12.5 billion in annual loses for the U.S. economy and $2 billion on American wage workers.

If you don't sympathize with the music industry — it still makes an incredible profit regardless of piracy — think about at least spending a dollar to support your favorite artist. It might encourage him/her to produce more music and could even reduce ticket prices for their shows.

Spring for a Small Gift

In Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of his major points is showing sympathy for people.

Giving a gift like candy proves you went out of your way to show you care, and candy is always affordable, especially after the holidays.

(And if you're not too embarrassed, or you think the person won't notice, you can buy the expired too. That's super cheap.)

Share a Glass of Wine With a Friend (Two Buck Chuck)

Go to Trader Joe's and split a Charles Shaw bottle of wine with a friend; each one goes for $1.99 a pop.

"Really good wine need NOT cost a lot," reads the Trader Joe's website about Charles Shaw. "The juice is good, even award-winning ... and...a really good value."

Buy a Used Book

Used-bookstores provide really cheap reads and there's plenty of opportunity to find something under a buck. It'll give you hours of enjoyment (the shopping and the reading), and when you're finished you can give the book you find to a friend.

Depending on the store, the proceeds go to different charities. The Housing Works bookstore on Crosby Street, for example, uses its the money to advocate on the local, state and federal level for homeless people infected with the HIV virus. 

If you don't care about giving back to the community or books, you should at least enjoy browsing through the store... a fun and free activity.

Put Air in Your Tires or Vacuum Your Car's Interior

Checking air pressure is crucial, mechanics say, because not having the right amount can be a serious safety hazard on the road. Next to the brakes, tires are the more important safety device on your car and incorrect pressure will compromise cornering, braking and stability, says Cars.com.

Air pressure also affects your fuel efficiency and the life of your tire.

As for as vacuuming your car's interior, that's just a nice thing to do that will keep your ride looking spiffy.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Buy an international calling card.  You can call Mexico for five minutes using one for a buck versus if you phone using AT&T,  even if you have an international plan, which will cost you $1 per minute. 

You can also have fun with it, as Rogerk's Pick Blog suggests, by leaving 20 one-minute messages.

Put It in the Bank

You know the saying "a penny saved is a penny earned," so if you normally buy a lotto ticket once a week, put that buck into savings instead. By the end of the year you'll have saved $52, which is 52 times more than you would've had.

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