What is a better investment: increasing the value of my condo through home improvements, or keeping money in an investment account that's earning average interest?
A few months ago I bought a condo for $80,0000. I realize now that I can't afford it. I only make $11.00 an hour. Right now, I can pay my mortgage and all of my bills, but just barely. I really want to fix the place up so I can sell it in the future. I have about $5,000 in various investment funds that I can't contribute to in any meaningful way right now. The money is just sitting in the accounts collecting varying degrees of average interest. Should I leave this amount in my investment account, or should I put the $5,000 to immediate and make improvements to my condo?
I commend you for acknowledging that you may have made a mistake in buying the condo. However, consider it a place to live, not an investment, so do not put any more money into it. At this point, you are living with very limited means and really should be more focused on having an emergency fund equal to six months expenses and considering your long range financial outlook. I suggest making sure that the $5,000 is in a simple savings account where it is not at risk, rather than any kind of "investment" where it would be at risk. You are not in financial condition to be taking on risk of losing any of it. Spending it on the condo would also be a risk because you can not be assured that it would increase the sale price dollar for dollar. Also, do not be in a hurry to sell the condo because you will most likely not get a higher price than what you paid, but will still have the selling expenses to pay.
Looking to the long term, you need to increase your earning capacity. Consider getting a second job and put all of that income towards building your emergency fund to six months worth of expenses. Then redirect the second income to save for some kind of occupational training or education that will qualify you for a higher paying job. Then of course, use the money for that training. Quit the second job and use that time for your schooling. Thereafter, you will have created a whole new life for yourself. Good Luck.