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How to Spend $1000? Invest in Yourself!

What would you do if you suddenly came into a thousand dollars?

When I was a kid, I used to think a hundred dollars was a big deal, never mind ten times that amount. Now that I’m an adult however, a ‘cool grand’ has lost a bit of its lustre. Don’t get me wrong, a thousand dollars is still a nice amount of money, especially if one finds themselves the sudden recipient; it just doesn’t seem as infinite as when I was a child.

In fact, with credit card bills, utilities, car payments and rent or mortgage amounts due, a thousand dollars can come and go in the blink of an eye. In fact, one can spend a thousand dollars so inconsequentially that just a few years later, it may be difficult to recall exactly where the money went – a sad state of affairs for an amount of money that used to ‘razzle-dazzle’ me as a child.

Now, if you have reckless tendencies like me, you might make the suggestion to go ahead and “Treat yourself! Buy something nice!”. A new iPad? Perhaps a high-end handbag? Maybe even a glorious full-package deal at a spa? These are all fantastic but the joy will most likely be fleeting and again, in a few years, it’d be difficult to recall exactly how that thousand dollars was spent.

Investing is always an option. It’s super easy to funnel a thousand dollars into retirement savings, a children’s education plan or even just a tax-free savings account. Doing any one of these things is a smart move but again comes up a bit short. Inching one’s retirement savings from, say, $28,000 to $29,000 hardly qualifies as fulfilling, memorable or exciting.

Sticking within the realm of investing, the option to gamble on the stock market is always there. This approach is risky but can yield much higher returns on an investment, which definitely ups the excitement factor. However, what I personally found out this year is that a thousand dollars is kind of a lame amount to invest. I made a thousand dollar stock purchase and saw my money grow by about 15% in just a few weeks, providing a pretty good return on investment. What soon became apparent is that in actuality, this meant I only gained $150, which winds up being about half that after taxes are applied. The lesson here is that the stock market is designed, more or less, for those wishing to invest much larger sums of money.

So what to do with a thousand dollars?

Just recently, I came across an article in MoneySense Magazine that asked this very question. While it covered several different approaches, one suggested action really stood out: Invest in yourself. The gist is that should a person ever come into an unexpected thousand dollars, an intelligent use of that money would be to spend it on increasing personal knowledge, abilities or skillsets with the goal of being able to use the newly attained qualities to generate income. For instance, if you’ve always had an interest in woodworking, then you could enroll in a part-time course that teaches cabinet making, birdhouse building or even something unorthodox like intarsia.

The opportunities for investing in yourself are vast and varied. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia and in just a few minutes, I was able to come up with a handful of self-improvement courses and workshops that suit my fancy. Here are just a few examples:

While the above are local to Halifax, opportunities like these are almost always available in-and-around towns and cities across Canada. Apart from investing in yourself being a unique approach to spending a thousand dollars, it can also provide an actual return-on-investment. By investing in a skill, while money is initially lost, over the long run a person can actually earn that money back (and then some) by turning the skill into a small business. This can also be a big benefit when one retires, as having the ability to self-generate income helps with financial security in old age. Lastly, apart from the practical aspects of acquiring a new skill set, the other bonus is that investing in yourself guarantees that you’ll never forget when and how you spent that extra thousand dollars.

So, how would you invest a thousand dollars in yourself?

Having lived on both coasts and smack-dab in the middle of the prairies, Mark believes himself to be quite the well-rounded Canadian. That being said, he sure does struggle with appropriate regional diction. Remind him again: Is it pronounced scallop or skahllop?

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