10 Unusual Ways to Invest $1,000

  • Put $1,000 in a weird place

    Small investors are often given conventional, boring financial advice: put that money toward your 401K at work, max out your Roth IRA, buy up some more of your favorite mutual fund, yadda yadda. And those are all perfectly reasonable options. But there are alternatives that will leave you feeling less boxed in. $1,000 can be invested in a number of creative, eccentric and ultimately very rewarding ways. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Buy a school bus!
  • Buy a school bus!

    We asked friend of MainStreet, and frugal self-made millionaire, Alan Corey for a few oddball ways to invest $1,000. (Corey is the author of A Million Bucks By 30.) His first suggestion: buy a school bus. “Buy a decommissioned school bus from your local school district. After a bus hits 100,000 miles, most school districts have to take them out of service and they look for buyers to unload these assets. They sell short/mini-buses for $500 - $1000 each (bigger school buses cost more). Due to state regulations, buses are given stringent inspections a couple times year, so you know the bus was well maintained and most likely does not need much work even after 100,000 miles.  Last summer I bought a short school bus in Brooklyn for $850.  I drove it for 3 months last summer on road trips, family outings, and camping events and had a blast.  At then end of the summer I sold it for $1450.  It's something I'm seriously thinking of doing every summer now as we had so much fun piling in our friends, family, dogs, and gear to go on some epic road trips.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Treasure hunt… for fun and profit
  • Treasure hunt… for fun and profit

    Here’s another smart use for $1,000. “Hold a treasure hunt,” Corey suggests. “It works like this: get 25 friends or more to enter into your treasure hunt. You can create a difficult puzzle, obstacle course, or just have a buried treasure and some clues to send them.  The entry fee is $50 and if the winner solves the puzzle, gets the best time, or finds the hidden artifact, that person gets $1000.  If you get 25 to join in, you would turn your $1000 into $1250 for a day's worth of work.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Hold other competitions and contests
  • Hold other competitions and contests

    You don’t need to do a treasure hunt—Corey believes that other competitions can be equally lucrative. “Same as above but hold a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, billiards contest, video game contest, homerun hitting contest, etc. Team based tournaments usually have higher entrance fees, but harder to find multiple entrants.  Just make sure you set a minimum number of entries before the contest is held so you at least get a return on your money.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Invest overseas
  • Invest overseas

    I know, none of us wants to bet against our own country, and you don’t have to! But it may be a good idea to enhance your investing strategy with some overseas or international holdings. Why? As a commentary article on Forbes recently warned, “Obama’s record deficit should send savvy investors overseas.” If you are worried about the long-term effects of heavy U.S. debt loads, buy shares of a large company based somewhere other than in the U.S. Consider, perhaps, China Life Insurance (Stock Quote: LFC) or China Mobile (Stock Quote: CHL). If you believe the Chinese economy will fare better than our own over the next ten or twenty years, it is reasonable to assume that a) Chinese middle-class consumers will buy life insurance policies and b) Chinese consumers will have an ever greater demand for mobile service, just as in the U.S. during the 90’s. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Invest at home, in the government
  • Invest at home, in the government

    You can purchase Treasury bonds direct from the United States government on TreasuryDirect.gov. As their site explains, “Bonds pay interest every six months until they mature. When a bond matures, the owner is paid the face value of the bond.” Plus, interest income is exempt from local and state income taxes, although you will still have to pay federal income tax on the interest earned. You can purchase Treasury bonds in $100 increments online, with a $100 minimum purchase. Of course, this is one of the more conservative investment options out there, and as a result you aren't going to see high returns... Photo Credit: TreasuryDirect.gov
    Invest in other individuals
  • Invest in other individuals

    Peer-to-peer lending sites such as Prosper.com offer an interesting value proposition. You bid on individual loans, based on the user’s description of how they plan to use the funds, in addition to more traditional factors such as their creditworthiness. It’s a way to help a fellow citizen out, it informally helps unfreeze the credit market since you are providing a loan to someone, and it could earn you an estimated 6-16% annual return, although this kind of return is by no means guaranteed (and I would be wary of putting all your money into one loan; better to diversify and fund many small loans on the site, or partial loans). Photo Credit: Prosper.com
    Stake a friend’s business
  • Stake a friend’s business

    So a friend keeps rambling about a great new Web site or small business idea. If only they had another $1,000, they would be in business. Let the ink flow and draw up a contract, entitling you to a predetermined amount of ownership in exchange for your $1,000 influx of capital. You could lose it all, in which case you also risk losing a friendship. But there is the possibility your friend’s business could take off, and now you have a consistent income stream that will last you for many years to come. Your friend’s unwavering ambition and small business acumen could mean a nice profit for you. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Open a new bank account
  • Open a new bank account

    This one may not strike you as terribly unusual or lucrative, but certain bank accounts have good promotions you can take advantage of: Suze Orman’s Save Yourself account, for example, nets you a $100 bonus if you make 12 consecutive monthly deposits of $100 or more. Read more about it here. Capital One’s Direct Banking service offers a highly competitive 1.45% APY on their InterestPlus Online Savings account, in addition to a 10% quarterly bonus on interest earned (the $15,000 average balance requirement is waived if you have an active Capital One credit card account). Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Seasonal investments
  • Seasonal investments

    Rent or purchase a snow plow which can be affixed to the front of your SUV. A heavy-duty one can be had for about $1299 new, which means you can get one for significantly less used: certainly for $1,000 or less. If you do 50 driveways in your neighborhood or town at $100 each, that’s $5,000. Similarly, come summer time, rent or buy a lawnmower and go at it. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Deliver to senior citizen homes
  • Deliver to senior citizen homes

    You will need to get the assisted living community’s event coordinator to sign off on it, typically, but here’s a thought: load up on high-end chocolate or other irresistible treats (or magazines, CDs, or paperback novels) and make a friendly visit. Hawk your wares and watch as the money flows your way (just make sure you’re offering stuff at a steep discount -- many of your customers will be on a fixed income). You have a captive audience, you’re offering something they want and with any luck you may find yourself invited back. It could become a weekly or monthly source of regular income, delivering new novels or sweet treats to the folks on a routine basis. Photo Credit: Getty Images
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