Money

The best investments for $10, $100 and $1,000

John Petrie (R), a winner of the InvestWrite Essay Competition, tours the NYSE.
Source: NYSE | The SIFMA Foundation
John Petrie (R), a winner of the InvestWrite Essay Competition, tours the NYSE.

The best investments of any kind are those that generate a return. If you don't get more from your money than what you put in, you're spending money, not investing it.

When asking yourself where to invest money, think about all types of investment options, not just investing in stocks. Whether you've got $1,000, $100 or just $10 to invest, there are good destinations for your money.

Here's a list of options that can generate some type of return no matter how much you have to invest.

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Best investments for $10

Instead of going out to lunch this week, invest that $10. There are surprising ways you can get a return on your money.

Online course

Sometimes the best investment is an investment in yourself. With the proliferation of online courses these days, you can learn everything from how to operate a circular saw to how to write computer programs. With an online course — many of which are $10 or less — you can broaden your basic knowledge, learn employable skills or enjoy life-enhancing hobbies, from playing the guitar to arts and crafts.

You can even take courses from Ivy League schools for free.

S&P 500 Index Fund

A common complaint among investors is that they can't participate in the stock market without a sizable amount of money, as fees would eat up most of the investment. The truth is that not only can small investors participate in the market, they can effectively track the returns of the overall market at an exceedingly low cost. The Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund, for example, is no-load and charges extremely low fees of just 0.03 percent annually. The minimum investment for this fund is $1, so even with $10, you can start your investment program.

Best investments for $100

Instead of a weekday lunch, now you're saving the equivalent of a nice dinner out for two. But with that $100, you can invest in the markets or your future.

Robo-advisor

A robo-advisor is a computerized investment platform that allocates your money over an assortment of different mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. The specific portfolio you are assigned is in line with the investment objectives and risk tolerance that you indicate. There are lots of options for a robo-advisor, from Betterment — the largest of the independent firms with more than $9 billion under management — to well-known firms such as Vanguard, Charles Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade.

Betterment and Acorns are two of the larger firms that have no minimum investment, so you can easily get started with just $100.

High-yield savings account

If you want to earn interest on your $100 but want to keep it safe and liquid, a high-yield savings account might be a good option. Many online banks offer high rates while charging no account opening fees and carrying FDIC insurance. CIT Bank's Premier High Yield Savings Account, for example, has a $100 minimum and paid a 1.35% annual percentage yield as of Nov. 26, 2017. You can pull your money out at any time, and there are no maintenance fees.

Rates and features are subject to change at any time, so look at recent surveys to find the best savings account for your needs.

Marketing

Regardless of the field you're in, you can always stand to make a better impression, get the word out about yourself, or market yourself for bigger opportunities. If you're self-employed, you can buy ads or other marketing materials to get more customers or clients. If you're an employee, you can take your boss to lunch and ask about future opportunities with your company. These types of expenses are investments in yourself that can pay large dividends down the road.

Best investments for $1,000

One thousand dollars is a serious chunk of change — enough for a luxurious and relaxing weekend away, or enough to really see your money grow if you invest it properly.

Certificate of deposit

The minimum amount to open a CD account varies by bank, but many require $1,000. A certificate of deposit often pays more than regular checking or savings accounts and still carries FDIC insurance. A CD is known as a time deposit, meaning you're required to leave your money in the investment until it matures unless you're willing to pay a penalty.

As of Nov. 26, 2017, online rates at Goldman Sachs, for example, ranged from a 0.60% APY on the six-month CD to a 2.45% APY on the six-year CD.

Legal protections

Not many people are eager to organize their finances when they are living, let alone prepare for when they die. But a good use of $1,000 is to hire an estate attorney and get your financial house in order. Most Americans, especially those with any property or investments, need a number of legal documents, ranging from trusts and wills to healthcare proxies. Financial and estate planning might not be exciting — and it could even be a bit frightening — but hiring an attorney to get your affairs in order will help reduce the stress and uncertainty over what happens to your assets in case you are incapacitated or pass on.

Debt reduction

Want to earn a guaranteed return on your money? Pay down your debt. If you're paying interest on outstanding debt, paying it off gives you an immediate return equal to the amount of interest you would have paid. The average interest rate for accounts assessed credit card interest is about 15 percent, and some cards charge even more. With the long-term average stock market return hovering around 9 percent per year, saving 15 percent or more per year on average is a winning option.

Home renovation

The right home renovation is a two-pronged investment: it both serves a functional need in a house and it could actually improve the home's value. While there are limitless options for improving a home, here are five options you can choose that can cost $1,000 or less: Upgrade the lighting, replace the front door, improve the kitchen cabinets, enhance the bathroom fixtures or get a deep clean.

Some of these options can add value to your home, while others may enhance the quality of your life, which is always a worthwhile investment. These home renovations will pay you back.

Emergency fund

A recent GOBankingRates study found that 57 percent of respondents had savings of less than $1,000. Financial services firms like Fidelity suggest that you should save at least three to six months of living expenses for a rainy day. When you have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund, you won't have to cut corners to meet unexpected expenses such as a surprise car repair or a doctor's bill, or take on high-cost debt to pay for every surprise. This can lower your financial stress level, which is another reason to consider an emergency fund to be a good investment.

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This story originally appeared on GOBankingRates.