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Make the Most of $10,000

I'm back with more money ideas designed to unlock the fortune hidden inside your paycheck. This time, we're going to examine what to do with that spare $10,000 you've got lying around.

$10,000 buys you ...
What will ten grand buy you? A quick Google search says:

  • An indoor firing range. Be the envy of your gun-toting friends and the bane of the neighborhood dogs.
  • The Daryl Hannah makeover. Neiman Marcus' mermaid costume will have you swimming in attention!
  • VIP treatment. Even the US Weekly set can enjoy the high life. For a night, at least. Mix a cup of Foolishness for your hung-over wallet.

Spend it Foolishly
Of course, there are plenty of ways to get more for your $10,000. Like, say, a new car. Seriously. Now is an excellent time to buy a 2006 model because the 2007s are already on lots across the nation. Deals are always easier to get during inventory clearance time.

Say you're in the market for a minivan., one of my favorite sites for auto research, says that Dodge is offering big rebates on some of its 2006 Caravan models. One deal provides $5,000 in incentives!

Assuming you're able to get that, and buy at the invoice price, your total cost for the van would be $14,612, only $4,612 of which you'd need to finance. But that shouldn't be tough. E-LOAN, for example, could provide the funds for as little as 5.99% annually over 36 months.

Invest it Foolishly
But, hey, you may not need a vehicle. That's fine; let's invest the proceeds instead. Just make sure that you don't pay more than you need to. Why? Because when you invest via mutual funds, for example, you often get what you don't pay for.

Take Neuberger Berman Partners, for example. Over the past five years, the fund has returned 11.4% annually -- nearly five percentage points ahead of its category average. Yet the fund also charges an expense ratio of just 0.85%, which falls well below the category average. So you're getting better returns, paying less to get them, and your portfolio will be diversified among excellent businesses such as copper miner Phelps Dodge (NYSE: PD  ) , cement king Cemex (NYSE: CX  ) , homebuilder D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI  ) , financier Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , energy producer Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI  ) , and security software maker Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC  ) .

Follow the money
With a pair of simple tips, we managed to get more out of your $10,000 than you might have thought possible. That's how it works with our new personal finance newsletter, GreenLight. Each month, co-advisors Dayana Yochim and Shannon Zimmerman offer a slew of suggestions to make or save you money. Sound interesting? Click here to find out more.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers never actually saw Daryl Hannah in the '80s cult classic Mermaid. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Get a peek at everything he's invested in by checking Tim's Fool profile. Neuberger Berman Partners is a Motley Fool Champion Funds pick. Symantec is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a bargain at any price.

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