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jca's avatar

How should I spend the $500?

Asked by jca (36043points) February 27th, 2016

My parents gave me $500 for Christmas. I haven’t spent it yet.

I’ve been debating. Here are some thoughts:

If I want something, I can pretty much buy it for myself, within reason. I’m not walking into Tiffany every week or buying real Michael Kors bags, because I’m more practical than that, but basically, if I feel like getting something, I can buy it.

I like things that don’t cost a lot of money. In other words, I really get a kick out of getting a nice piece of jewelry on sale or off a clearance rack, or finding something decent on Amazon for a great price.

I have a ton of clothes, bags, shoes, and don’t need anything in that category.

My bills are paid but I can always put the money toward bills (as bills are always flowing in: child care, car payment, whatever).

I can put the money toward a trip. That’s another idea.

I can take part and put it toward something gift-y for myself and put part toward something more practical, like bills or a trip.

Please give me some thoughts.

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28 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

upgrade your pc and buy xcom 2

Zyx's avatar

Save it for when you need it or when you see something you really really want. Spending it just because you have it seems like a bad idea.

johnpowell's avatar

I’m on team save. If you must spend use it on something that is currently accruing interest such as your car payment.

Edit ::

See #4

LuckyGuy's avatar

You’ve mentioned before that you like soaps. They are always useful.
I’d splurge a little and buy a selection from a Jelly here who makes soap.
You’ll love it.

Jaxk's avatar

@johnpowell – That was a great link. It fit me perfectly. Not only do you develop those habits but they change you perception of what the world is like. It took me until I was 40 to realize that fresh vegetables could be eaten without processing.

jca's avatar

I read @johnpowell‘s link. It was a great article. I didn’t grow up poor but I knew people who did and it reminded me of a friend of mine who came from a big Irish family. They used to eat canned vegetables only. She told me when she first had real string beans (fresh string beans), she didn’t like them. She was so accustomed to the canned ones.

marinelife's avatar

How’s your retirement planning or your emergency savings? Otherwise, I personally would put it aside for travel.

ibstubro's avatar

Last year (or the year before?) I found a $100 bill.
I tucked it into the back of my wallet, and it’s still there.

It’s my “mad” money. I’ll spend it when I either find something I don’t need, but can’t live without, or when I’m pissed off because something inconveniently broke down. I don’t care if I spend it tomorrow, and I don’t care if it’s still there when I die.
It’s my enabler. One day I hope it enables me to________.

jca's avatar

@marinelife: I have pension and another plan thru my job (20 years =exponential growth) plus another stash so I’m ok that way.

When I see things I want, I will often not deny myself. I’m pretty practical so I don’t go crazy with quantity or brands.

Next weekend I’m getting photos taken, me and my daughter, at a local studio. BBirthday is coming so it’s kind of with that in mind. Then we’re going to a great museum in Connecticut that we’ve never been to. That will be nice.

jca's avatar

Just to add that I appreciate all of the responses so far, have given all a GA and will appreciate more suggestions/discussion.

rojo's avatar

Go somewhere further or longer than you could without it. Upscale vacation, better hotel room, exotic locale,

rojo's avatar

Rent a male dancer for the evening and invite friends

JLeslie's avatar

I always just put gift money into savings. When I find something I want to splurge on I have the money there sitting in my savings.

Jeruba's avatar

If I were one of your parents, I’d have given you the money without strings attached, of course; but at the same time, I would hope (a) that you’d use it for something specific, (b) that it would be something to make your life easier or more fun, and (c) that you’d tell me about it so I’d have a sense of having given you an actual gift.

This means not using it to pay a dentist’s bill, or making it a tiny part of a big purchase such as a car, or adding it to a nondescript hoard for use “someday.”

I’m not criticizing those things. I’m just saying what I think, which is what you asked.


• How about a couple of nights in a nice, quiet B&B? Find a reasonable one in a pretty place, and include a special dinner. Depending on where you go, there could be enough left to pay a babysitter so you can relax and indulge yourself.

• Get tickets to a really great show; maybe invite a friend and treat him or her. Again, depending: can you stay overnight in the city?

• Include a special event on a trip you are planning otherwise. For instance, you’re visiting city X, which is situated on a river. The money from your parents allows you to book a day cruise on the river for your family.

• Sign up for a class you’d love to take but might not otherwise because of the cost of materials: woodworking, say, or glass-blowing. Make something for your parents.

• Purchase a piece of artwork. Choose it because you love it and not because it might appreciate as an investment. But it might. Shopping for it could be a lot of fun in itself—galleries, arts and crafts fairs—even if you don’t buy anything. The quest gives shape and direction to browsing; I always enjoy that more than aimless wandering.

Once question I’d want to have settled in my mind beforehand, though, is this: what was your parents’ intent? I’d want to consider that. Is $500 a big sacrifice for them, and did they believe you were in great need of it? Or was it given as a sort of free-wheeling indulgence? I’d try to use it in the spirit of the intention.

Jeruba's avatar

^ I meant “one question.” Ten minutes is rarely long enough for me to catch and fix all my mistakes.

Coloma's avatar

Take your daughter on a fun weekend get away somewhere where you both will have fun.
Go hiking maybe, or horse back riding somewhere or go to a new zoo or museum in a new town, or an amusement park. One day you do a kid thing, the next day you do a mom thing.
Splurge on a nice hotel room with a jacuzzi tub and fireplace maybe, take a giant bubble bath with your daughter or separately, order room service, make it a mother/daughter memory!

Strauss's avatar

Take some of it to do some ” thrift shopping”. Not necessarily for clothing, but look in other areas where you might find something unexpected. I once saw an upright piano, tuned and in great condition, for $200. This instrument might have sold for up to five times that on the antique market.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Slow growth mutual funds.

Coloma's avatar

@SecondHandStoke Well that’s the uber practical approach but certainly no fun. carpe the gift cash. lol

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Like you, I don’t need any material possessions (except photographic equipment which I want more than need). So I would spend the money on an experience. If you don’t have a bucket list, perhaps start one. If you do, go through it and identify something you really want to do but have been putting off for one reason or another. Perhaps this money can at least partially pay for you to tick off one of those experiences.

For me, I’d probably sign up for a one-on-one photographic course. Or a glass blowing course. I might look for a photographic or writing retreat. Or perhaps a trip to interact with orangutans in their own habitat or maybe to go whale watching again. I might put it towards a trip to Antartica or perhaps holiday in Europe or the US. Perhaps you’ve always fancied having a stylist help you choose a wardrobe. Maybe you fancy painting portraits. I might look at sailing lessons! I can think of a couple of jellies who could help with that.

Regardless of what you choose, I can say I have never regretted spending money on an experience, so that’s what I’d do.

Seek's avatar

Use it to buy raw material for decoupage projects. Crappy old furniture, polyurethane, old copies of National Geographic…

ibstubro's avatar

For gourd’s sake, don’t buy any National Geographic magazines!

Seek's avatar

I get them for a few cents apiece at the library. I’ve gotten some cool educational posters that way.

ibstubro's avatar

At one time everyone subscribed to National Geographic.
Everyone saved them.
They should be free for the taking (think Craig’s list), but at a few cents a piece, that’s probably cheaper than gas to pick them up.

National Geographics
Golf Clubs
Find a way to turn any of them into marketable items and you could buy the next Presidency.

AshlynM's avatar

I think saving it for a trip is a good idea.

rojo's avatar

Make a donation to the ASPCA or some other worthwhile organization that could use your help?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ibstubro I have a box or two of National Geographics. They probably weigh 50 pounds each I let my kids cut them up when they had school projects. Before the interwebz they were a fantastic resource.
Now they are thermal mass and potential End-of-Days fuel.
(Along with my box of National Lampoons.)

jca's avatar

@LuckyGuy: You have National Lampoons? I used to love love love that magazine. It was hilarious. There was also another one called Spy which came afterward which was hilarious, too. I, too, used to have National Geographics. They had great maps and charts as inserts. They did weigh a ton, though.

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