Ten dollars doesn’t buy much anymore. If you’re making minimum wage, you’re not even earning $10 an hour, making it vital to get creative with your spending. Even if your budget is more flexible, investing in purchases that either make your life easier or add a lot of value at a low cost will increase your return on each dollar. GOBankingRates asked today’s biggest financial podcasters and radio show hosts about their best $10 purchase. Answers ranged from outlandish to indulgent, but for some money experts, a simple $10 brought them exponential value.
1. Life’s Small Pleasures
Given how hard it is to stretch $10, sometimes investing your money in affordable indulgences increases each dollar’s value. Andrew Horowitz — certified financial planner, author and host of “The Disciplined Investor” podcast — shared his favorite use of $7.50: “Tatuaje Fausto No. 114 Maduro Wrapper. A cigar a day helps keep worries away … [at] about $7.50 per cigar.”
It’s often preached in personal finance that small purchases like the ritual morning latte can really add up, but for some, like Chris Hill, analyst and host of “Motley Fool Money,” that cost is worth it. “Coffee,” Hill said. “Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or anywhere else. A hot cup of coffee tops anything else I could buy for under 10 bucks.”
2. Lucky Opportunities
If you’re a savvy shopper, you’re likely a deal seeker. Even so, finding plane tickets for under $10 is a rare feat. It might seem too good to be true — but that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it. Clark Howard, consumer expert and host of “The Clark Howard Show,” shared his best $10 purchase: “An airline ticket to Washington, D.C. Once there was a sale for tickets for … you guessed it — $10!”
3. Streamlined Services
It’s no secret we live in a quickly evolving society that propels us to do more with increased efficiency, and I’m sure no one has complained about a service that made his life easier. That’s why investing in apps or services that streamline your life can offer a lot of value.
John Lee Dumas, founder and host of the podcast “Entrepreneur on Fire,” shared the premium version of the app Tripit was his best $10-or-less purchase. “An app that keeps all my travel plans in one simple place. Simply a game changer,” he said.
Matt Theriault, real estate investor and host of “Epic Real Estate Investing,” selected his $9 monthly ScheduleOnce.com subscription as his best stretch. “No more multiple emails, phone calls, texts back and forth trying to create appointments with people.”
4. The Essentials
Sometimes it’s worth investing in the basics. Luckily, this doesn’t require paying $795 for a Movado watch. “A watch,” was the response from Ric Edelman, chairman and CEO of Edelman Financial Services and host of “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman.” Edelman assured us that it “tells time great, looks great, lasts long. Gets the job done and didn’t require me to spend money I could put to better use elsewhere – like saving for retirement.”
5. Career Starters
Sometimes a small purchase can advance your career, whether it’s buying a book that piques a new interest or subscribing to a service that helps you connect with a greater customer base.
Take real estate investor and cohost of “BiggerPockets Podcast” Brandon Turner’s example: “I’d go with ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad,’ the book by Robert Kiyosaki,” Turner said. “I picked it up for a couple bucks at a thrift shop, and it changed my life completely.”
A similar thing happened to “Freakonomics” co-author Stephen Dubner, when a book inspired a pipe dream that became his career. “When I first moved to New York, I bought a remaindered copy of Jonathan Yardley’s biography of Ring Lardner, one of my favorite writers,” Dubner said. “It somehow persuaded me that I too could make it as a writer in New York. Pure delusion — but it worked.”
Financial expert, author and host of the “Rich Dad Radio Show,” Kiyosaki himself can thank a classic board game for his career trajectory: “The game of Monopoly,” Kiyosaki said. “When I was a kid in the 1950s, my rich dad would teach his son and me about money by playing Monopoly. As we played, he would impart his thoughts, real-life experiences and wisdom to the two of us … I purchased my own game, a used game of Monopoly at my church flea market for 50 cents, and began a Monopoly club in the sixth grade, teaching my friends the same things my rich dad taught me. Today, I continue to be a teacher, and an entrepreneur in financial education.”
6. Low-Cost Investing
Don’t think $10 is too small to invest. After all, according to Warren Buffett, $40 invested in Coca-Cola in 1919 would be $10.8 million today. Most people don’t have 95 years on their side to reap those returns — nor the luck.
Laura Adams, personal finance expert and host of “Money Girl,” figured out her own, virtually no-cost way to invest. “I get a lot of value out of free or low-cost mobile apps,” Adams said. “My favorite one right now is Acorns, which allows me to round up each purchase I make to the next whole dollar and automatically invest the difference. It’s a fun and easy way to automate investing my digital spare change.”
7. Cheap Maintenance
Dough Roller recommends an oil change for your car. Every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, investing $10 in this basic service will prevent hundreds of dollars in unnecessary maintenance later. While many companies price this service between $20 and $25, coupons can bring your cost down to $15 or less, according to CarsDirect.
8. Peer-to-Peer Lending
Rather than a bank profiting off a loan, peer-to-peer lending allows you to loan money to someone and earn interest on your investment. With deposit rates at historic lows, this avenue can provide a higher rate of return than your savings account by a long shot. Consider options like Lending Club, which charges rates between 7.58 percent annual percentage rate and 25.01 percent, depending on borrower risk. Both Lending Club and another P2P site, Prosper, allow you to invest in loans in $25 increments. If you’re eager for a $10 option, however, invest in the brands you love, including Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, Facebook and Walk Disney, through Loyal3 for not a penny more.
9. Increased Reach
Do you have a hobby or passion you could turn into a business? You’ll first need to establish a web presence. Hosting through sites like GoDaddy.com costs as low as $1 per month. Its most secure option, Ultimate hosting, is on sale for $7.99 per month.
Journalist and personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi thanks a free service for being able to work on the go, increasing her audience reach for her podcast “So Money.” “The best thing I signed up for is Skype, which is free,” Torabi said. “It’s thanks to Skype I can run my podcast from anywhere and speak to guests wherever they are. The sound quality is also excellent.”
If the only thing holding you back from adding to your income or completely overhauling your career is a way to connect with consumers, investing in going digital could launch your business and open up opportunities that can’t be quantified.