Money·4 min read

12 Smart Ways to Use an Extra $100

Blazer, Plant, Umbrella
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
June 15, 2021

The Story 

Finding extra money in your pocket or a crisp Benjamin in a birthday card can be a nice surprise. Make sure to put it to good use.

I mean, it’s only $100.

It might not be the Powerball jackpot, but $100 can go a long way. Putting an extra $100 toward your student loans or car payment each month could mean becoming debt-free years sooner. Investing that extra cash could set Future You up for a comfier retirement. Saving it for a rainy day could give your wallet some breathing room when an unexpected expense pops up. If you’re in the mood to treat yo’ self now, you can still spend smart.

Got any suggestions?

Yep. We asked Skimm’rs on Instagram what they would do with a spare $100. A lot of them mentioned some of the ideas we listed above (great minds). Plus other creative ideas, like:

  • Cross a to-do off your list. Think: outsourcing your grocery shopping or weekly trip to the laundromat. Your time is valuable. And a long to-do list keeps you from spending time on the things you actually enjoy, like hanging with family or working on your side hustle.

  • Invest in a “return to office” wardrobe. Because it might be time to retire that that tie-dye lounge set.

  • Grow your green thumb. Adding some new plant babies to your space can help reduce stress. And growing your own fruits and veggies can help you trim your grocery bill.

  • Donate it. Because doing good for others feels good, too. Bonus: it can help you save on your tax bill (as long as you donate to a registered nonprofit and save your receipt). The IRS has a free search tool to help you find an eligible org. 

  • Reward yourself. Setting aside some funds for a massage or a fitness class makes for a nice midweek pick-me-up. And it can send a natural boost of feel-good chemicals in your brain. Aaand it can help you stay motivated along the journey toward a long-term money goal. That’s a win-win-win.

More, please.

Got you. Here are a few more suggestions for spending a little now to reap bigger rewards later.

  • Invest in a good coffee maker. If you’re a regular at your local coffee shop, brewing your own at home could take a big expense out of your monthly budget. And who doesn't love espresso on demand? (Psst...if you enjoy your current coffee routine, you don't have to stop. The point is: if you’re spending more out of convenience than because the expense is aligned with your values, see if there’s a cheaper way.)

  • Re-stock your freezer and cabinets. Because let’s face it: cooking dinner after a long day isn’t always ideal. Keeping frozen foods and other non-perishables on hand can give you another option besides delivery or takeout.

  • Get an auto tuneup. If you can’t remember the last time you had an oil change or tire rotation, show your car some love. Simple maintenance now could mean avoiding a bigger bill later.

  • Fund an experience. Think: a post-pandemic vacation, sky-diving, the new Van Gogh exhibit – whatever brings you joy. Spending on an experience can be good for your mental health (especially after a global pandemic). Making memories = priceless.


An extra $100 might not seem like much, but it can make a big impact if you use it wisely – whether you put it toward your debt, a healthy meal or an experience that'll bring you joy.

Subscribe to Skimm Money

Your source for the biggest financial headlines and trends, and how they affect your wallet.