Electrical outages have been on the rise since 2009 as a result of a spate of heat waves and natural disasters. Just ask the 1.3 million folks who recently lost power in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.
Solution: Buy a portable generator to ensure you won't be left in the dark -- or stuck with costly hotel bills and a refrigerator full of spoiled food -- in the next storm.
A 6,500- to 7,000-watt generator should give you enough power to run the fridge, the washer, a TV, and a few lights, says Ryan Emerson of East Hill Electric in Eau Claire, Wis.
Top pick: Generac 6,500-watt portable generator.
Use any leftover cash to stock up on gas; 10 gallons will buy you about a day of power.
If you have an extra $10,000, options abound for you to boost the value of your home, give to charity or take off on a cheap European vacation.