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27 Awesome Ways to Spend $5

27 awesome ways to spend $5 infographic

At SafetyNet™, we’re big on saving money. Saving brings security, happiness and peace of mind. But spending money is a part of life and also something that brings joy. The key with spending wisely is focusing on the true value of your purchases and using your dollars in a way that will maximize your happiness—not just in the sense of immediate gratification—but in the longer term.

If you are trying to find the best way to spend $5, check out our list of 27 ideas for products and services that cost less than a cappuccino. Sure, you would enjoy splurging on a fancy coffee, but these ideas will help you get more value out of $5—value that will last longer than your caffeine buzz. If you only have $5 to spend on your home, your health, your work, your friends and family, your community or yourself, consider which one would make the biggest impact for you.


1. Pen

The New Year is a perfect time to finally get organized. The first step is often to make a list of your goals and the things you want to accomplish. There is nothing that will dull your ambition quite like grabbing a pen that doesn’t work or a pencil that needs sharpening. Get a nice new pen to get the ink and the ideas flowing.

2. File folders

Filing papers is the pits, but having a fresh stack of folders can make the tedious job a bit more bearable. If you can find decorative or color coded folders, even better. Getting that dusty stack of papers off the kitchen table and out of site is worth every penny.

3. Containers

If you find yourself mired in clutter, throwing things out might be the trick. The other option is finding the right container like a plastic bin or a nice basket. Check your local thrift store for an abundance of used baskets, glass vessels, bins and boxes. You’ll feel a lot better about your living space once everything has its place.


4. Kitchen Doodads

If you have ever spent time in the kitchen doing a repetitive or difficult task and thought “There has to be a better way…” there probably is. For just a few bucks, you can often find kitchen utensils that would make your life easier and save time when you’re doing meal preparation. Think about getting a soup whisk with plastic covering so it doesn’t scratch your Teflon pans or a slicer for your “apple a day.”

5. Candles

Candles add ambiance and fragrance to your life. Depending how often and how long you burn it, a nice smelling candle can deliver scents of relaxing lavender or woodsy balsam fir for weeks to come.

6. Seeds

Seeds are always a great investment. Buy a packet of wild flower seeds or vegetable seeds to plant in your garden. If you live in a cold climate like Wisconsin, start the seeds indoors in little pots or Styrofoam cups by a window and transplant when spring arrives.

7. Paint

Whether it’s a full wall or teeny decoration, a change of color makes a big difference in any room. A can of spray paint goes a long way in sprucing up some shabby furniture or giving all your picture frames a new look. If a wall in your house could use a new life, a half-gallon of paint is enough to freshen it with a new hue.

8. Hardware

Replacing all the hardware in your kitchen can be very expensive, but buying just one new knob or handle for a special drawer or cabinet can add a splash of color or bit of personality to an otherwise lackluster storage area.

9. Data Entry

Do you find yourself hand writing the same thing over and over or having a hard-time reading your own chicken scratch? Hire someone on Fiverr.com to do a data entry job you’ve been dreading like typing up your favorite hand-written recipes or instructions on how to take care of your pet chinchilla when you’re gone so you don’t have to keep writing it down. Being able to print out your notes in a nicely designed, legible format will save time and give you a surprising sense of satisfaction. Have someone input your entire address book into your email contacts or add birthdays and important dates to an online calendar with automatic reminders. You can get many of these types of data entry jobs done for just $5.

10. Tools

Making your home and garden projects easier is all about having the right tool. Check out your local hardware store for off-season sales or a place like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a used rake, wrench, screwdriver or other tool.


11. Plant

There’s nothing like an office plant to give a little life to your otherwise drab cubical or desk. Consider getting low-maintenance plant such as a cactus or succulent so you don’t have to worry about watering it when you’re on vacation.

12. Fidgets

When you’re having a particularly stressful day at work, having a fidget or a stress ball could help reduce your anxiety. Scientists are still unsure whether these toys / tools actually help, but at the very least, they can be something to keep your hands busy while you’re thinking about the next thing you should work on.

13. Work Advice

Offer to buy your boss or a co-worker a beverage and pick their brain about how you can improve your work and move up in the company. Getting out of the office and into a more casual setting may help spur more intimate conversations and build that relationship.


14. Income Insurance

$5 isn’t going to help much if you lose your income. But putting that $5/month toward income insurance could be the difference between racking up debt after an unexpected event and being able to pay your bills while you get back on your feet. SafetyNet is a simple insurance program that gives you money if, in the future, you get laid off from your job or can’t work due to an illness or injury. It works like an emergency fund, and you don’t have to pay it back. Peace of mind never cost so little.

15. Micro-investing App

Traditionally, a person needed hundreds of dollars to get started investing in the stock market. But these days, a new crop of apps for micro-investing allows for beginners to invest as little as $5. Make sure to do your research and read the fine print to decide if micro-investing is a good option for you.

16. DIY Piggy Bank

Having a creative piggy bank or crafty coin vault to save your loose change for a vacation or a big shopping splurge can be enough motivation for you to keep filling it up. Get a few cheap art supplies and decorate a mason jar, old coffee can or soda bottle and let your creative juices flow.

17. Investment Advice

Think about a close friend or family member who knows the most about saving and investing and offer to buy them a cup of coffee in exchange for some financial advice. Perhaps you need help getting out of debt, setting up a budget, or maybe you need to start saving for retirement. Ask them what books they recommend or what personal finance blogs they follow. You’ll need to do additional research or work on your own, but they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Health & Wellness

18. Workout Equipment

Getting into a new exercise regime is a great way to start off the New Year. Check garage sales or Facebook Marketplace for a used yoga mat, jump rope, weight set or workout video.

19. Toothbrush or Floss

If you’re dental hygiene is taking a back seat to your busy lifestyle, buy yourself a new toothbrush or an extra floss dispenser. If you don’t always remember to floss, keep a roll near your TV remote or in your desk at work. Seeing the floss in a new location may remind you to take 2 minutes a day to have healthier gums, which will help you avoid costly dental work in the future.

20. Water Bottle

The benefits of drinking water are well documented. Buy an aluminum or reusable plastic water bottle that you can take with you everywhere to stay hydrated throughout the day. Take it on car rides, outings with your kids, and traveling. Besides the health benefits, you will surely save money by avoiding having to buy bottled water or other drinks while you’re out and about.

21. Personal Care Product

Treating yourself to a new personal care product such as a new body wash, nail polish, hair gel or razor is a fun way to freshen up your routine. Even a small change like this can make you feel better about yourself as your start your day.

Personal Development

22. Hobby Gear

Considering taking up a new hobby this year? Check resale shops, garage sales or even dollar stores for the basic tools or supplies you’ll need to get started. With just a few dollars and a couple of YouTube videos, you could teach yourself how to play the harmonica, knit or do some magic card tricks.

23. Used Books

Depending on where you shop, $5 could get you one used books or possibly even several. Whether you get a book for pleasure reading or something from the self-help or non-fiction department, stimulating your mind is always a good use of money.

24. Gratitude

Gratitude has been closely tied to happiness by many researchers. One way to buy happiness with just $5 is to get a fresh notebook and start a gratitude journal. Set up a daily practice of writing down 5 things you are grateful for. Doing this first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day with a positive mindset.

Giving Back

25. Donation

Giving back has also been proven to increase happiness. Consider giving your $5 to a street musician, a local charity, your church collection plate or a Kickstarter campaign for someone starting a new business. The feeling of joy you will get from donating your money to a cause you support is priceless.

26. Random Act of Kindness

Surprise the person behind you in line on the bus by paying for their fare or purchase an appetizer for some students in a restaurant. You’ll probably confuse and delight them with your generosity, and everyone will have something interesting to talk about at their holiday party.

27. Greeting Cards

Find an inexpensive pack of greeting cards or make your own cards with some basic supplies. Write a note to your family, friends, co-workers or neighbors to tell them why you appreciate them. You’ll feel good doing it, and they’ll be excited to get a hand-written card.

Choosing the Best Way to Spend $5

As you can see, there are lots of ways to spend $5 that will bring you a surprising amount of happiness, relief and satisfaction. To choose how best to spend your money, look at the pain points in your life—areas that are causing you the most stress. Think about what is missing from your life, problems that you have on a daily basis and what you lose sleep over. Focus on those things first, and remember it’s OK to spend money when you do it thoughtfully.

Let us know your ideas for the best way to spend $5 this year!