This post comes from Paul Michael at partner blog Wise Bread.
In 1930, the humble dollar could get you a decent table lamp, a quality bathrobe or roughly 6 gallons of regular gas. But these days, it's hard to find anything that costs $1 or less. (See also: "50 healthy foods for under $1 a pound.")
In a previous post I listed 101 things you can do with a $1 bill, but that was a long time ago, and a lot has changed. I decided to compile a new list and look at the problem with fresh eyes. (I tried to avoid the usual fare in here, like $1 menu items from fast-food joints, an iTunes song, or canned goods from the supermarket.)
So, here's what I found that can be bought today for $1. How creative can you get? Leave your ideas in the comments.
- A phone call. You can place a four-minute call from your cellphone to the Cayman Islands with AT&T.
- Quality items. You can buy 100 different "quality" items from the One Cent Store. All you have to pay is shipping (which on 100 items will run you about $800).
- A CEO. Own the CEO of a large corporation! Yes, Steve Jobs took only a $1-a-year salary from Apple. The co-founders of Google have reportedly done the same.
- Relaxation. Travel to the Philippines, and you can get a 30-minute foot massage for $1.
- A place to put your car. In downtown Denver, you get one hour of street parking.
- E-books. There are many out there for free, including the awesome "Unleashing the Ideavirus," but if you want to blow a whole $1, try some of these e-book titles.
- Penny stocks. Buy penny stocks. Depending on which company you choose, you could get quite a chunk of them for $1, as many shares trade for just a fraction of a cent. Of course, they probably won't go anywhere, but hey, everyone starts somewhere.
- Little stuff from Amazon. Get crazy with Amazon fillers. There are a bunch of items on Amazon that cost less than $1, and if you're ordering something anyway, why not tag one of these on there? Often, they can bag you free Super Saver Shipping, so you spend a buck or less to save a lot more in postage.
- Cellphone protection. Make 100 cellphone screen protectors.
- 10 memories. Stores such as Wal-Mart charge about 10 cents for a 4-by-6-inch photo print.
- Crafty plans. Some knitting and crochet patterns cost just 99 cents at Ravelry.com, and they are delivered as .pdf files.
- Almost-free handmade goods. Etsy artists often give away items for free. It's considered "paying it forward," and shipping on some of these is $1 or less.
- Books. Half.com, eBay and Amazon all offer used books for less than $1. If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you'll get your book with free shipping.
- Mobile-phone apps. While many are free, there are also a lot that you can pay for. Some are as low as 99 cents, and they're great.
- Lemonade. Buy a few glasses of lemonade from a child's lemonade stand. You get freshly made lemonade, and children learn a little about the value of hard work.
- Hope. Dropping your $1 bill into the bucket of a charity may not seem like much, but it all adds up.
- Pool. Well, not a swimming pool, but a game of pool in a bar will usually cost you four quarters. If you're really bad, that $1 could stretch for an hour of entertainment.
- A house. Not a monopoly house either, but a real one. The housing crash, coupled with some local economic factors, has produced some ridiculous deals. Of course, you may have to pay to move the house off some land that the government owns, or a small fortune in taxes and fees, but the actual deed could be yours for a buck. Read more about a home in Detroit that was on sale for just $1.
- A second date. Research shows that bad breath is a real turnoff for either sex, so invest in a pack of gum or a roll of mints. Both can usually be found for less than $1.
- Gold. But not much. When the price of gold was $1,516.99 an ounce, your $1 would have gotten you about 0.00066006601 ounce.
- Gas. And finally, we'll end with an easy one. You could buy about a third of a gallon of gas (the national average is $3.617 for regular). Depending on the fuel efficiency of your car, that's enough for a round trip of 6 to 8 miles. More if you drive a hybrid.
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