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Seven ways $1,000 can ease your financial worries

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Personal finance is full of big numbers – the amount you'll need to save for retirement, the amount of your mortgage, the cost of a college or university degree. You can get so fixated on the big numbers that amounts as small as $1,000 can seem almost insignificant.

But $1,000 is enough to make a difference. I recently came across a list U.S.-focused list of 15 smart things you can do with $1,000, and it inspired me to come up with a list of my own for Canadians. Here's my angle: ways to spend $1,000 to ease your nagging financial worries. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what to do with $1,000. Send them to me at rcarrick@globeandmail.com and I'll include a selection in an upcoming newsletter.

Here are my seven suggestions for $1,000:

1) If you haven't started saving for your child's postsecondary education: Drop the $1,000 in a registered education savings plan and collect $200 in federal grant money.
2) If you don't have an emergency fund or much of a fund: Put the money in a high interest savings account at one of the banks or credit unions offering 1.5 per cent or more.
3) If you feel crushed by your new mortgage: Use the $1,000 to pay down your mortgage balance. You get the most benefit from prepayments in the early years of a mortgage.
4) If you have a balance on your credit card: Put the $1,000 there. No arguments. The interest rate on credit cards is around 20 per cent.
5) If you want your millennial kids to learn about money and investing: Help them open a tax-free savings account (you have to be 18 or older) and pick a long-term investment. For a sound, set-it-up-in-three-minutes option, consider a big bank Canadian dividend fund.
6) If you haven't had the money to make a charitable donation lately: Pick one or more charities and donate online. It couldn't be easier when you use the CanadaHelps website.
7) If you've been neglecting your retirement savings: Putting $1,000 in your RRSP or TFSA gets you a little bit closer to a well-funded retirement.

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Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

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More Carrick and money coverage
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