This time of year, especially with the DOW tanking, there's one investment that's guaranteed to return at least 500% over the initial investment in value and satisfaction: Summer is just around the corner and there's still time to get a few tomatoes and some fresh basil planted.
Most nurseries and garden centers are starting to heavily discount their bedding plants. (Last year I spent $1 for two tomato and two pepper plants--that's right .25 cents each, that produced fresh sweet cherry tomatoes and sizzling jalapenos.)
Check out the veggie starts at the grocery store too. All you need is a container, and it doesn't have to be a fancy glazed pot, some soil, light and water. Containers can be almost anything: a child's Easter bucket with a drainage hole pierced into it, for example. Place the pot next to the window if you don't have a yard, balcony or front stoop.
Basil is another fabulous investment; even at the farmer's market, bunches of basil for that fragrant garnish of summer over your fresh tomatoes, is thrillingly expensive. A pot of basil with good light will produce many batches of pesto well into September. Invest in summer and invest in the good life.