Extra Cash? 11 Smart Purchases You Can Make With $400 or Less

Displeased businessman holding money

Use your extra cash to make smart purchases that will benefit you in the future. | iStock.com/Alen-D

Here at The Cheat Sheet, we talk a lot about how to be financially responsible and how to increase wealth with very little money. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. That we know. But let’s quantify that generic statement by putting some real numbers behind it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey 2015 reports an average household income per consumer unit (think entire household of family members or single, financially-independent people living alone or with other people) is $69,629. And the consumer’s unit average yearly expenses is $55,978.

Let’s say you dedicate those yearly expenses to standard things, such as food, housing, transportation, and insurance. While the actual percentage breakdown per expense will differ from household to household, depending on your family picture, you’ll still be dedicating a good chunk of your income to various necessary evils each month.

If we continue with this logic, the actual money you have left over — you know, that unreasonably small portion of your salary that remains after paying bills — is what many would dub as “play money.” The average consumer unit will have about $13,000 a year to play.

With all that extra cash, what can we do? Of course, we could blow it on a steak dinner or splurge for the newest tech gadget. But what are a few smart items we should buy when we have the opportunity? We’ve compiled a list of smart purchases you should never feel bad about buying. And the best part? They’re all under $400.