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What Would You Do With an Extra $50?

Have you ever had a check show up in the mail out of the blue?  Maybe you’d forgotten about that class action lawsuit you were notified about months ago.  (That’s happened to us at least twice this year.)  Or you got a bonus or birthday money.

It’s not a huge amount, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either.  I mean, $50 is a significant sum of money.

But do you know what you’ll do with this surprise check?

Your response to small chunks of money says more than you’d think about the way you’re handling your personal finance.  Get ready to use your imagination and learn which category you fall under.

This post is written by the fabulously talented, Jamie Jeffers.

What Would You Do With an Extra $50?

Ready?  So you go to the mailbox and discover a check inside for $50.  You weren’t expecting this check, so you don’t have anything waiting to be paid.

surprise check

What’s your response?

  • Do you feel elated?  
  • Intense?
  • Apathetic?  

What does this money mean to you?  And what does your response say about your relationship with money?

You’re Excited!!

This surprise check couldn’t have come at a better time.  You’re strapped for cash, you needed to get some dog food, and payday is still 4 days away.  Now you can pick up a couple of things you need to get by for a few days.

This is a clue that you have either a spending problem or an income problem.  Assuming you are budgeting your money well (nothing goes on a credit card!), it’s time to learn how to bring in more money.

Since $50 isn’t going to randomly show up in your mailbox regularly, you need to consider other ways to bring in cash.  Ask about a raise or promotion at work.  Apply for other jobs or get the skills you need to make yourself employable in a better line of work.

Try one of these posts to get ideas on how to bring in more money:

I suggest you use that $50 to keep the lights on.  If your situation isn’t that dire, invest in a book or class that will either help you manage money better or earn more in the future.

It’s Pretty Intense

Whenever you get a windfall, you know exactly what you’ll do with it.  That money is going to get you one step closer to that goal you’ve been living and breathing for months.

Maybe it’s paying off debt.  Or saving to pay for a house.  You could be aiming for FIRE (financial independence/retiring early) or just building your retirement accounts enough to make the calculators happy.

Whatever your goal, you know the way to reach it is to light a fire under your fanny and go for it!

Just beware of burnout.  

Some goals have a finite ending.  Once you get all of your credit card debt paid off, that job is done and you’ll have a chance to relax.  Ditto for big goals like buying a home.  

But for longer term goals like FIRE or retirement, it might not be healthy to go full bore every day.  You wouldn’t want to stop halfway to your goal because you’re overwhelmed.

Be sure to give yourself permission to enjoy life along the way.  If you’re self actualized and you don’t need any money to relax or enjoy life, then more power to you!  The rest of us need to remember to give ourselves permission to ease up and splurge on that night out every now and then.

Money, huh?  Meh.

If you’re totally apathetic to this surprise check coming in, you’ve either reached a place of self actualization (you’ve already got everything you need to be happy in life) or financial independence.

And big kudos to you!  Maybe you can donate the money to a worthy cause.

The Worst Response of All…

And that would be the “good intentions” response.  I fear that many people fall into this category!  They get excited about the extra $50 and just know they’ll do something great with it.  They’ll catch up with bills, splurge on a date, or put it in the savings account.

…Yet somehow the money goes into the checking account and just…disappears.  You don’t know exactly what it got spent on, but it’s gone for sure.

If this happens to you more than you’d care to admit, it’s time to get on board with a budget!  I know the b-word gets a bad reputation, but you’ll love the results of using one.  Getting started is super easy, especially with free tools like this one.

Small windfalls can be even more revealing than large ones.

It’s funny how a piece of paper with President Grant’s picture can tell you so much about your life.  A few small changes can make a huge impact on your life.

What will you do with your next surprise check?

Battle of the Mind Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. What I would do with it now is so different than in the past when we sometimes struggled financially. Back then, it would absolutely go toward a bill -which was never in arrears- or into a savings account. I remember the first time I received an award at work for $100 and was so excited that we had reached a point where I gave half to a charity and we went out to eat with the other half. Now, I’d probably give it all to charity because we already have a healthy eating category in our spending plan. It is a delightful position to be in.

    • That’s awesome! It is fun to advance throughout your financial status and do something totally different with money today than you would have yesterday! I feel like we’re entering a new stage in our lives as well.

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