Ten Wild Ways to Spend $10,000

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Let's say you have an extra $10,000 lying around and aren't sure what to do with it.

Your debts are pretty much paid off, your 401(k) is being fully funded and your mutual funds are doing just fine, thank you.

Sure, you could put the money into the roller-coaster ride called the stock market and set yourself up for an extra dose of market volatility. Or you could do the sensible thing and make extra payments against your mortgage.

But if just this once you'd rather do something off the wall with the money?

Here are 10 suggestions:

1. Give to Charity

You can even find a charity that matches up with your interests, by visiting a website like Charity Navigator. Then you know that the money is going to use for something that you care about, and you can even check ratings based on criteria like organizational efficiency and revenue versus expenses.

Plus, thinking in April terms, charitable donations are tax deductible (although it's too late for this year). Just remember that you must itemize your deductions, and that there may be a limit on what you can deduct.

You may also require specific forms from the IRS and you do need a receipt from the organization stating the charity's name, how much you donated, the date and a statement that no goods or services were received in return for your gift.

2. Take a Plastic Surgery Safari

Medical tourism is fast becoming a way for clients to take advantage of quality health care at cheaper prices, while combining often aesthetic procedures with relaxing vacations in exotic locations. Plus, the time away provides one with an opportunity to begin to heal. South Africa's Surgeon and Safari provides services ranging from cosmetic orthopedic to dental to sports medicine.

Safari options include bush, wine and train safaris, among others. Surgical Attractions also offers cosmetic procedures.

An important caveat: Be careful to do your homework when researching a facility abroad to insure that medical practices are up to par with those expected in the U.S. Speak to respected industry professionals about specific practices and get recommendations from former patients, if possible. Lower prices do not necessarily mean lesser care, but be diligent in doing your research.

3. Buy Tickets to the Olympics

It's an Olympic year, and certainly an historic one at that, as the world converges on China beginning Aug. 8 for the biggest sporting event in the world. Tickets are officially impossible to get, but online ticket sellers offer a variety of possible travel packages, which also include entry into events ranging from judo to basketball to yes, even team handball. An 11-night hotel package at Ticket City that includes excursions to places like the Great Wall and daily track and field tickets starts at $8,500. This does not include the price of the flight.

Individual ticket event options are also available, but hotel accommodations are already very hard to find and incredibly expensive on their own. The Sino Hotel in Beijing offers Olympic packages. Ticket Liquidator and StubHub also offer individual event tickets.

4. Reduce and Offset Your Carbon Emissions, for Life

With $10,000, here's your chance to really make a difference in the environment. Carbonfund, a nonprofit organization devoted to the fight against global warming, offers you the chance to donate based on what you want to offset, and then in turn they give your money to verified renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation projects.

Offset the carbon emissions from your SUV for $648.82 per year -- $10,000 is enough for more than a decade and a half, certainly more than life of your car. At $104.50 per year for 100,000 miles, even the most intense jet-setters can offset the effect of their air travel for the duration of their lifetime. Projects supported by Carbonfund include the SunEdison Solar Projects throughout California, the Indian Mesa Desert Sky Wind Farm in Iraan, Texas, and the Return to Forest Project in Rivas, Nicaragua.

5. Fly Around the World

Now that you've offset your emissions for a while, you can travel with a clear conscience, and see the world you've yet to see. Alliances that offer such tickets include Oneworld, Star Alliance , and Sky Team.

Contact them directly for estimates on fares, but your nest egg should be able to get you a single seat in business class.

6. Fly a MiG 23 (or an American Fighter Jet)

Take flying to a whole new level, now that you're a pro. Sure, you've always wanted to be a pilot and get behind the controls of a fighter jet, but why limit your experience to a domestic aircraft? Log on to FlyMiG.com, where $8,900 will get you a flight in a MiG 23, or spend just over $10,000 for included accommodations.

During the course of your 30-minute flight you will break the sound barrier, and experience rolls, loops and dives with a pilot from the Russian Air Force. Incredible Adventures offers similar packages. In October, the company will also sponsor a sky dive from above Mount Everest. And while $10,000 will get you a flight in Russia, you'll have to pay a bit extra to get yourself there.

7. Donate to a Presidential Campaign

This year, your vote (or your money?) may mean more than ever, with the impending results still very much in the air. You'll be able to spread the wealth a bit too, with most of the primary elections now finished. The maximum one can donate to a single candidate per election is $2,300 (you may contribute a maximum of $4,600 to candidates for a primary and then general election). Popular candidate Web sites for secure online donations include: Donate.BarackObama.com , Contribute.HillaryClinton.com, JohnMcCain.com and VoteNader.org .

Of course, you may also contribute online to politicians running in local and statewide elections. And you can donate up to $28,500 to a political party.

Beware, these donations are not tax-deductible.

8. Self-Publish Your Novel

So you've written what you've determined to be one of the great works of contemporary literature, or at least, you've penned a work you think the people close to you would enjoy reading, but you can't seem to find a publisher to even read your cover letter. Publish yourself. Prices vary greatly depending on whether you've written a novella or an epic. Lulu Publishing allows you to calculate estimates online based on style and length, while Random House's Xlibris invites you to call for a free consultation.

Their packages range from $499 to $12,999.

9. Baseball Fantasy Camp for Two

It's that time of year where our national pastime's greats have returned to the training grounds of Florida and Arizona, to prep for the 162-game schedule that will bring us to the postseason and the World Series. You can get on those same fields before they do, usually in January. If you've ever dreamed of playing ball on major league facilities while being coached by former major leaguers, this is your opportunity, and you'll be able to afford to bring that best friend or family member you used to play catch with growing up.

The New York Mets' 2008 camp cost $4,295 and included roundtrip airfare from the New York metropolitan area, lodging at the PGA Village Resort in Port St. Lucie, transportation, and personalized home and away uniforms, as well as a team jacket.

Carl Yastrzemski was schedule to appear at this year's Red Sox camp, while the Detroit Tigers featured members of their 1968 world championship-winning team.

10. Put It All on Red (If You Dare)

This isn't all that sensible or even smart, but maybe "danger" is your middle name. You could go to Atlantic City, Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe, pretend you're James Bond in a tux and put it all on red at the roulette table. Or save yourself a trip and plunk down (throw away?) the money on 10,000 lottery tickets. Beware of this extremely reckless option. The odds are stacked against you, so don't do it until you can lose it all without your stomach sinking.

Nate Herpich is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor and Sports Illustrated.com.

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