A big paycheck and lots of extra cash aren’t necessary to get started investing. There are many ways you can invest small sums of money in order to build your portfolio and save for your goals. Low-cost investment options may also mean that you can start investing sooner. The longer your money is invested, the more time it has to take advantage of compounding interest, which is any return earned on a principal, plus past returns. Best of all, when you start even with just a little money, you get into the habit of investing, which can help you build wealth for years to come.
Here’s a look at some simple ways to invest with little money.
How to designate money for savings
Some investment tools can actually help you find some room in your budget for savings.
Automating your investment contributions. Consider transferring money from your checking or savings account bank account into an investment account each month or each pay period. Start with an amount you’re comfortable with, such as $10, and aim to increase that amount over time. By automating the process, you allow your investment account balance to slowly increase without much effort on your part, and without running the risk that you’ll spend the money before you can save it.
With Stash, you can automatically transfer money to your investments on a schedule by setting up Auto-Stash. Remember though, there’s a difference between automating the movement of money to an investment account, where it may sit as cash, and using Auto-Stash to move money into a specific investment. When you use Auto-Stash to buy an investment, there is always the risk that you can lose money, as there is any time you invest in the stock market.
Consider investing your spare change. When you’re getting started, it can be difficult to commit to investing a set amount every month. But what about a few cents whenever you make a purchase? It might not sound like much, but it can be a simple way to invest a little cash without too much strain on your budget. Several apps, including Stash, can help you do this by rounding up to the dollar every time you buy something and investing the change. So, if you spend $9.50 on lunch, the app can round up your total to $10 and save the extra $0.50 to invest. When your extra change amounts to $5, the money goes into an investment account. With Round-Ups on Stash, the $5 is invested into an investor’s cash balance in their account.
Consider investing windfalls. When you get an occasional, modest windfall—a tax refund, a check from a relative for your birthday, or a raise at work—consider earmarking those dollars for investing, instead of spending that money on a splurge purchase.
Low-cost ways to invest it
Once you’ve identified the money you want to invest, you can make it go further with low-cost investment options and strategies.
Consider Using a low-fee robo advisor. Robo advisors are digital investment platforms that automate investment choices based on algorithms. Robo advisors can significantly cut down on the fees that human advisors typically charge. Robo advisors can also allow you to invest in a set of diversified portfolios of stocks, bonds, and other securities aligned to your goals. They can then manage it for you, helping to keep it balanced, for a small fee. Many robo advisors require a very low minimum investment, which means you can start investing with a small amount and deposit as much or as little as you want.
Look for low-cost investment funds with low minimums. Low-cost mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with a low or no minimum investment can offer an inexpensive way to access a diverse mix of investments, including stocks and bonds. While some funds may require a minimum investment amount, others may not.
Consider opening a retirement account.1 If you have access to a 401(k) through your job, contributing to it—especially if there’s an employer match on the table–can give you the chance to supercharge your retirement savings. That’s because funds put in your 401(k) can be automatically deducted pre-tax from each paycheck, so you won’t have to worry about moving the money yourself, and any growth will be tax-deferred and also subject to the power compound terest. You will have to pay taxes on that money once you start withdrawing from the account, usually at or after age 70 ½.
If you don’t have a 401(k) plan, consider opening a traditional or Roth IRA, both of which can offer tax advantages and allow you to invest your contributions. Contributions to traditional IRAs are made with pre-tax money.2 Any growth of your investments is tax-deferred and withdrawals you make when you retire are taxed. On the other hand, contributions to Roth IRAs are made with after-tax dollars.3 Money in the account can grow tax-free and withdrawals made when you retire are not subject to taxes.
Look for high-yield savings account. If you’re working on short-term financial goals—like building up your emergency savings or paying down credit card debt—and you’re not ready to invest yet, consider keeping your cash in a high-yield savings account. A high-yield savings can account can pay more interest than a typical saving account, so with a top-earning high-yield account, your money could earn closer to 2% or more in interest compared to as low as 0.01% for regular savings accounts. With a high-yield savings account, you’re potentially earning higher interest than you would in most regular bank accounts, but you still have easy access to the money whenever you need it, and the higher earnings can help you reach your financial goals more quickly.
Build healthy habits
When you’re working with a tight budget, coming up with extra money to invest may feel impossible. Just getting started—opening an account and adding a little seed money—is often the biggest hurdle to investing. If you can commit to investing a small sum every week, month or year, you can give your money a chance to earn you returns over the long term.
There’s no need to wait to start investing until you’ve amassed thousands to put toward your first investment. You can start small and set goals for investing more as your budget allows.
With Stash, you can start investing with any dollar amount.