4 Alternate Uses for $50

If you take a step back and look at your finances, you’ll see that the bulk of your income is spent on necessities – food, housing, health insurance and the like.  What’s left after the mandatory payments are made may not feel like a lot, but if spent properly, this is the money that can truly make you feel rich.  Most people don’t recognize that even when you’re splurging on a luxury item there are ways to make your money go a little bit further.  Here are four ways that you can better maximize $50 so that you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Out: Dry Cleaning
    In:  New Clothing
  2. If you pay $1 to clean a men’s dress shirt at the local dry cleaners and approximately $4 every time you need to have a pair of pants or a shirt dry cleaned, you’re probably spending about $50 a month on dry cleaning.  While this may not be considered a luxury, there are easy ways to save this money and apply it elsewhere.  For about $10, you can invest in Dryel to wash dry clean only clothing at home.  You can also wash your own men’s dress shirts without stressing about the ironing.  Try throwing the shirts into the dryer on the ‘tumble dry’ setting and removing them after about 20 minutes.  Hang them immediately and the wrinkles should fade right out.  With the remaining $40 you can go out and purchase a new piece of clothing that isn’t dry clean only, which will not only make you feel glamorous but will reduce your future laundry expenses as well.

  3. Out: 1 Trip to the Movie Theater
    In: 2-3 At-Home Movie Nights with Chinese Food
  4. With movie tickets costing close to $10 per person, babysitters costing a pretty penny and movie theater snacks continuing to be extremely overpriced, a night out at the movie theater can easily cost $50 (if not more).  Although you can’t quite replicate the excitement of the theater at home, you can enjoy more quality downtime by trading in your night at the movies and taking in a movie at home.  Even if you can’t score a free Blockbuster Express or Redbox rental, you can pay for a few films and a few Chinese dinners and still spend around $50.  Why relax at the movies only once a month when you can chill out multiple times for the same price by watching a great flick (with yummy food) at home?

  5. Out: Eating Out
    In: Ordering in and a Gym Membership
  6. If you go out to eat at least once a month (as a couple) you’re probably dropping at least $50 on your meal.  When you get home, you’re probably complaining that there’s no time for working out and no money for a gym membership.  But actually…if you order in you can save on the tip, avoid the expense of ordering a three course meal (or wine) and still have money to spare for a gym membership.  With many gyms (Gold’s Gym, Lucille Roberts,  Curves and others) charging around $15/month for membership (registration fee may apply) you can be on your way to feeling great while still enjoying a nice dinner once in a while.  While this may not instantly create more time in your day, studies show that people who pay for a gym membership often feel motivated to use it and can find the time necessary for a workout. And if not, well, you can always cancel it and put the money elsewhere!

  7. Out: Gourmet Coffee Habit
    In: Home-Brewed Coffee and a Splurge at the Grocery Store
  8. If you’re like thousands of consumers, you can’t seem to break your daily Starbucks habit, even if it is costing you lots of your hard-earned money.  But when it comes to the grocery store, you probably avoid purchasing things that look healthy and delicious because they’re too expensive.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have both?  With a bit of self-control and your eye on the final goal, you can!  Purchase ground coffee from your favorite café and make it on your own (you might need to spring for some flavored half-and-half to replicate the taste of the coffee shop).  With the other $40 (or so) dollars, you can find new food to try at the grocery store.  Perhaps the new Pepperidge Farm cookies you’ve been eyeing?  The whole-grain gabetta bread you’ve been hankering for?  Or maybe it’s the gossip magazine at the checkout counter that you’ve always wanted but could never rationalize buying?  Whatever you’ve been longing for at the grocery store can be yours – if you sacrifice your daily coffee indulgence.  Is it worth the sacrifice?  Try it once and decide for yourself!

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