Got a Dollar? We Found Some Surprisingly Smart Ways to Use It

interior of an RV/camper from the window
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What can you buy for a dollar? When you think of what you could do with it, do you think of things like…

  • Stick it in a change jar, and think about it when you’ve gathered 20 of them?
  • Gift it to a toddler, who doesn’t yet know the value of money?
  • Fold it into an origami bowtie?
  • Use it as a bookmark, instead of spending $3 on an actual bookmark?

The dollar alone doesn’t seem very valuable these days. Can it even buy you anything in the vending machine down the hall? (We’ll wait.)

OK, now that you’re back, let’s redeem the almighty dollar. If you know where to look, it could go a long way.

Here are six surprisingly valuable things you can do with just $1.

1. Give Any Room a Makeover

Hit up a dollar bin at just about any craft store — or general retailer like Target and Walmart — and pick up supplies for your next project.

For example, you can liven up your living room by re-upholstering old throw pillows with fabric from the $1 bin at Joann’s.

Get creative! Materials like popsicle sticks, cork boards and yarn can go a lot further than you might think. Here are a few DIY projects you can create using these affordable components.

2. Start Investing (No, We Mean It!)

When you don’t have a lot to begin with, investing to grow your money seems like a far-off goal. But new micro-investing apps let you dip your toes in this once-rich-man’s game and put your money — no matter how little — to work.

For example, the Clink investment app lets you invest in the stock market with as little as $1 a day.

The smallest amount you can invest is $1 a day, which Clink automatically withdraws from your checking account. You can also choose to invest larger amounts on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis

Or, link your credit card, and have Clink invest a percentage of what you spend — so you can make sure you’re balancing your spending habits with smart savings!

Clink charges $1 a month, but also offers a $5 signup bonus — which is like getting five months free.

To get started, download the app here.

3. Enjoy 45 Days of Hulu

Tired of your smug friends looking down their noses at you and your common cable subscription? Take the leap into the 21st century, and give Hulu a shot.

The service normally costs $7.99 a month, but if you sign up for Groupon, you can get this exclusive deal: 45 days of Hulu Limited Commercials for $1.

You can watch tons of popular shows streaming on Hulu the day after they air, plus entire series, including past seasons of current shows like “Modern Family” and classics like “The Twilight Zone.”

Hulu is also making its mark in the original content game, with exclusive series like “Behind the Mask” and “Difficult People.”

The basic subscription is ad-supported, and you can upgrade to the $11.99 a month No Commercials plan to watch everything ad-free and really stick it to your no-TV friends.

Here’s the link to sign up for Groupon.

4. Buy Dinner at Jimmy John’s Every April

Fans line up for this deal every year. It happened in April its first two years, so mark your calendar for 2018!

To say thanks to us, the eaters of sandwiches, Jimmy John’s sells select subs for just $1 on Customer Appreciation Day. Lnes are long, but at least you get to connect with other JJ fans while you’re there!

5. Wash It Down With a Soda From McDonald’s

Earlier this year, McDonald’s tried to lure us back in with a simple move: It charges just $1 for any size soft drink and $2 for select McCafe drinks.

I like the sound of that deal, Ronald, but I don’t know if it’s enough to get me gobbling a McFish instead of Whole Foods salmon anytime soon. Times, they are a’changin’.

But if you like a bargain, this one’s tempting. And once you’re close, you won’t be able to resist the smell of the fries. Thankfully, rumors say the restaurant will bring back our beloved Dollar Menu any day now…

5. Buy a Boat

OK things are getting kind of crazy now, but stick with us. This is really cool.

This couple bought a used boat through Craigslist… for $1. Does it sound too good to be true? Yes. Is it, actually? Yes, but only kind of.

Roxy and her husband found a boat they loved that was listed for $3,500. Then they waited. And waited. Finally, when they knew the seller would be desperate, they offered to take it off his hands for a measly $1. He accepted.

They had to put in some elbow grease to repair the thing — and the deal came with the stipulation they’d pay some slip fees for the old owner. But they still got a killer deal on the thing for that $1 down payment.

Are you going to find someone willing to sell a boat for $1? Not super likely (but tell us if you do!). But you should read Roxy’s tips to get a great deal like this on your next big-ticket purchase.

6. Rent an RV

Have you heard of RV relocation deals? If you’re a frequent road-tripper, you’ve got to check this out.

Rental companies have to move vehicles around to meet demand in certain cities.

If a glut of vehicles has made their way to New York — but not back to Indiana, Colorado or Washington — those other locations have to somehow be restocked.

Instead of taking on the full expense of sending an employee to drive a vehicle across the country, companies rent their vehicles to you. In exchange for sticking to their schedule and destination, you get a steep discount.

You can find relocation deals for RVs, as well as cars, trucks and campervans.

Pretty cool deal, right?

Stretch Every Dollar

Sure, some of these ideas are wacky, and some may not fit your needs (or your diet). But it’s important to get back to basics and realize the — sometimes surprising — value of that little $1 bill.

Keep an eye out for deals, think outside the box and don’t ever settle for paying the first price you see. That’s how a Penny Hoarder lives a rich life, even on a tiny budget.

Dana Sitar ([email protected]) is a senior writer/newsletter editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.