If you've come into an unexpected windfall, it can be tempting to blow it all on fun and luxury. Think twice. Here are nine ways to spend $1,000 that will help you become more financially secure.

It would be nice to blow $1,000 on whatever you want, wouldn’t it? I know I would love to spend $1,000 on a vacation or shopping without having to think twice about it.

The problem with blowing a windfall — even a small one — is that it keeps you in the same situation you were in before you received your gift. Blowing your money doesn’t help you. I know this personally because when I was younger I would spend any and every monetary gift on clothes. (It’s my weakness!) Fast forward a few years and now I’m digging myself out of student loan debt. Now, I put any and every monetary gift toward my debt. Over the last few years, these gifts have help take my debt down from $206,000 to $122,000.

If you have $1,000 to spend, there are so many ways that you can use the money to further one of your goals.

Here are nine ways you can spend that $1,000 the smart way.

1. Pay off credit card debt

This might be a no-brainer, but if you have consumer credit card debt, then it’s a smart idea to use extra money toward paying off that debt. This should be priority number one! The interest you pay on credit cards every month makes it an unwise financial decision to carry a balance. An extra $1,000 can give you the momentum to pay off your debt once and for all. Read more about paying off debt on your own.

2. Establish a bank account buffer­™

One of the easiest things that you can do with $1,000 is put it in your bank account and do nothing with it! This is what we call building a bank account buffer™. It’s extra cash in your checking account that you don’t touch. Similar to an emergency fund, but smaller and in your checking account, your bank account buffer™ will give you more financial margin in your day-to-day life. It can be a money stress reliever.

3. Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loan

Student loan debt and mortgage debt are a little different than paying off credit cards. While both categories are debt, student loans and mortgage debt are usually much larger. So putting $1,000 towards either may not wipe out the debt completely. But every little bit counts! So it’s still a wise choice to pay down these debts with small windfalls, even if you don’t feel it in your cash flow every month.

4. Boost your emergency fund

Personal finance gurus recommend having at least a three to six months of living expenses stashed away in an emergency fund.

If you don’t have a fully funded emergency fund, putting the extra money toward this goal will give you a nice financial margin and peace in your day-to-day life.

5. Start investing

You can use $1,000 to start investing. Consider buying mutual funds or index funds if you’re just starting out. Do a little research, then go for it. The point is to learn with this money, not to become rich from investing $1,000. If you learn how to make smart investment choices now, you can apply it to more of your accounts later.

6. Invest in your career

Investing in yourself is often underrated. You can learn a new skill or take a course to help you grow personally or in your career. You could hire a consultant to help with your business or a career coach to help you get your next promotion. Whatever the circumstances, this money could help you grow in your particular area of expertise.

7. Get healthy

If you aren’t where you want to be with your health, use the money to hire a personal trainer or health coach. Whether it’s with food or working out, investing in your health is an excellent way to spend money wisely if you need it. You have to take care of yourself first.

8. Get a personalized plan from a Certified Financial Planner

Use $1,000 to get a one-time, personalized financial plan from a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). You can get all of your finances organized and start on a financial plan that can guide you for years to come. This is particularly useful if you have assets that you need help investing and creating a plan for. Get matched with financial planners in your area for free here.

9. Invest in a will or additional insurance

If you haven’t created an estate plan or analyzed your insurance situation, then this money could be well spent on in either of those areas. If you need a will, you can use the money to meet with an attorney to get started on your estate plan. Similarly, you can invest the money in additional insurance policies to make sure you’re fully covered.

A final note

It’s tempting to spend extra cash whatever sweet bauble you’ve been eyeing lately. But your reward will be much higher if you spend your money wisely. These nine examples show you how $1,000 can be used in smart ways. Now, it’s your job to choose which is best for you.

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About the author

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Natalie Bacon is the blogger behind Financegirl, where she writes about finance and intentional living for young professional women. Natalie is a former corporate attorney who traded in her job to pursue a career in financial planning, freelance writing, and blogging.