Many of us hesitate to invest because the word investment brings up pictures of Wall Street and million-dollar transactions. However, there are more tools than ever before to help you learn about investing and start building wealth even if you don’t have much money to spare. Through a range of smartphone apps, websites, and other tools, creating an investment account requires very little upfront knowledge, and initial investments can be as low as $1. Furthermore, opening an account takes only a few minutes. Each tool has its own appeal, and deciding which one to use depends on your ultimate goals. Some of the top ways of investing with limited cash include:
Several reputable robo-advisors offer help to people with no prior investment experience. These accounts use an automated program to invest and track growth based on user preferences regarding risk level and types of assets preferred. The fees for these accounts are very low and typically a percentage of the total invested. One of the leading robo-advisors is Betterment, which has no minimum starting balance. The platform provides a simple interface with no hassles and the money is invested immediately.
Some robo-advisors, such as M1 Finance, do require a minimum balance. While M1 requires a starting balance of at least $100, the company does not charge management fees or commissions, and clients can quickly choose between several different pre-made portfolios or customize their own through a simple platform. Another option is Wealthfront, which requires an initial deposit of $500 but charges no fees until the account reaches $5,000.
2. Mutual Funds
When you invest in a mutual fund, you are actually putting your money toward a portfolio of stocks and bonds, all in one transaction. For that reason, they are a great choice for new investors. Not long ago, mutual funds were only available to people with a significant amount of money to invest. It was difficult to find a minimum investment of even $500, and most were much higher. However, many mutual fund companies have taken steps to make their investments more accessible.
Some companies, such as Transamerica, T. Rowe Price, and Dreyfus, will waive minimums provided that you agree to automatic monthly investments, which can be as low as $50. You can also contact your employer’s human resources department to arrange an automatic investment through a payroll savings deduction so that your wealth grows effortlessly.
3. Treasury Securities
While Treasury securities have rather limited returns, they are considered one of the safest investments as they are backed by the federal government. If you are concerned about losing money through investments, you may want to start with Treasury notes and then move to other options once you feel comfortable. Because they help increase the amount of interest earned on the total, Treasury notes are especially beneficial for individuals with money in a savings account that they do not plan to touch.
You can purchase these bonds directly from the Treasury website. The website makes it simple to create a bond that works for your financial plan. You can find denominations as low as $100 and maturities ranging from 30 days to 30 years. The maturity date is when the bond is repaid in full plus interest. Typically, longer maturities pay higher interest. You can also consider Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, which pay interest and offer principal adjustments that help account for inflation.
4. Real Estate
Some people may be surprised to see real estate on this list. After all, how can someone with modest means afford to buy property? Luckily, there are many different options, such as real estate crowdfunding, that can help you invest in real estate. To do this, you put what you can toward the purchase of a piece of real estate and then receive a return in proportion to your contribution. One company that is making this process simple is Fundrise, which has an online platform requiring an initial investment of only $500. It also charges only 1.0 percent in fees and offers a 90-day satisfaction guarantee. Many other companies are facilitating similar real estate investment opportunities, and you can also get in on property deals directly through crowdfunding platforms.
Another great way to get started in investing if you don’t have a lot of money to spare is through micro-savings apps. One app, Stash Invest, focuses on helping people build investment savings through small contributions over time. Unlike robo-advisors, Stash does not automatically invest the funds. Instead, once enough funds have been accumulated, the app walks you through the process of choosing your investments.
Since its inception, Stash has helped more than 3 million investors build $1.5 billion. You can open an account with no initial deposit and start investing with as little as $5. The app offers different ways of investing, such as round-ups on card spending, which accumulates spare change from your purchases. When you are ready to invest, you simply answer a few questions about your goals and then choose options that align with them. Investment options include stocks and exchange-traded funds.