What’s the Best Way to Invest $1?

A person holds their wallet open containing dollar bills plus credit cards.
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“I need a dollar, dollar; a dollar is what I need,” sings Aloe Blacc in one of those tunes I can never get out of my head.

But really, what can a dollar get you these days?

A bag of chips? A half-hour of parking? Not a whole lot.

Or, at least that’s what most of us think.

That’s why I loved a recent piece in The Morning News that asked two dozen people about the best way to invest a dollar.

What’s the Best Way to Invest a Single Dollar?

The article polled people in a variety of professions for their thoughts on investing a dollar — from a banker to a pastor — and the answers turned out as unique as the people themselves.

I’ve included my favorites below, as well as responses from co-workers and friends.

Here are some inventive ways to invest one dollar:

1. Cup of Coffee

“I’d buy a (cheap!) cup of coffee for someone I admire and pick his or her brain for a half hour. Right now I’m focused on hiring and managing smart people, so I’d ask for advice, which I think would be worth far more than one dollar and the lessons of which I could pass on to many more people.”

Serena Keith, Director of Product at Lovely
San Francisco, California

2. Packet of Seeds

“I’d invest in a packet of perennial vegetable, fruit, or herb seeds: asparagus, sorrel, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, lavender, and thyme. These are hardy, ancient, unfussy, and unapologetically feisty edibles… [You’re] planting once and getting delicious returns on that investment for years.”

Daisy Freund, Senior Manager of the Farm Animal Welfare Dept., ASPCA
Brooklyn, New York

3. Newspaper

“Not the tabloids, but a credible source of news. It’s cheap, it’s informative, and staying current will help you strike up a conversation with people who could help you advance your career.”

Rob Friedman, Risk Associate
New York, New York

4. Clean Water

“In my travels, I’d say what people need most besides security and education is access to clean drinking water. So, if I had a dollar to invest, it would be in a nonprofit or tech company that provides water sources to communities in need.”

Ben Harrison, US Marine
San Diego, California

And now for responses from my friends and co-workers.

5. Lottery Ticket

“To me, a scratch-off is the best way to invest a dollar. How else can you spend one dollar and potentially instantly turn it into several? It’s just a dollar.”

Matt Wiley, Assistant Editor at The Penny Hoarder
Saint Petersburg, Florida

6. Savings

“No one ever got rich by spending their money. You create wealth by saving and investing. Live below your means early in life, and you’ll be able to do more than you could imagine later.”

Jake Wallace, Regional Vice President at Steadfast Capital Markets Group
Jersey City, New Jersey

7. Two Stamps

“Just this week I invested a dollar into two stamps. I sent cards to both my brother in the Army and my pop-pop to check in, tell them what I was up to and let them know I was thinking about them.”

Kathleen Garvin, Editor at The Penny Hoarder
Saint Petersburg, Florida

8. Candy

“At a penny candy store, you can walk away with 100 pieces of candy in one shot… You can spread a lot of joy with it. You can put it out at your cube and people will stop by and take a piece, but also generate small conversations that might not be had in the office without the candy.

“I love my candy dish and the people that eat the candy in it. It just makes work a tiny bit better, and if one other person has a slightly better day because of a Tootsie Roll or whatever, then that is pretty awesome.”

Sam Hubbard, Coordinator of High Performance at USA Volleyball
Colorado Springs, Colorado

9. Ones Jar

“Start a ones collection. Spend a year putting any one dollar bill you have on you at the end of a day in a container. You’ll be amazed how much you have after a year.”

Matt Deitel, Financial Advisor at Wells Fargo
Jonesborough, Tennessee

10. Penny Slots

“Try your luck at the penny slots. If you come out on top, invest the money for a future trip!”

E’vone Starks, Administrative Wine Buyer at The Patio Group
San Diego, California

11. Kids

“I would invest a single dollar between the two tiny humans we’re raising to be money-smart. It invests in their (piggy bank) savings, and invests in my happiness to see their joy over two quarters apiece.”

Erin O’Neill, Numbers and People Juggler Supreme at The Penny Hoarder
Saint Petersburg, Florida

12. Caffeine

“Buy a cup of (cheap) coffee and use the caffeine jolt to accomplish a task you’ve been putting off.”

Mary Donofrio, Director of News and Media at Utica College
Syracuse, New York

13. Into a Cup

“Give it to a homeless person. It will mean more to him/her and will give you the most satisfaction!”

Luke Merriman, Black Cab Driver
London, United Kingdom

14. Bingo Card

“I’d buy a card at bingo next week. If I win, awesome. If I don’t, at least I had fun playing and hanging out with friends!”

Heather van der Hoop, Senior Editor at The Penny Hoarder
Saint Petersburg, Florida

15. Packet of Yeast

“I love baking bread, so I’d buy some yeast and make two delicious loaves. I’d give the finished product to a neighbor, friend or co-worker. Relationships are the most important thing you could ever invest in.”


Here at The Penny Hoarder, we firmly believe every dollar — and every penny — counts. And these answers prove you can invest in your future no matter how much money you have.

Your Turn: How would you invest a single dollar?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.