If you’ve ever been intimidated by the thought of investing in the stock market, this post is for you. You do not need to have tens of thousands of dollars to dip your toes into this water. You can start investing with a small amount of money, too. Read on to find out our list of five things to consider if you do not have a lot of cash but want to invest.
We get it. Investing is intimidating. As first-generation wealth builders, you’re probably the first in your family to even be thinking about investing. But if you’re serious about building wealth, investing in the stock market is an integral piece in this journey.
Contrary to what mainstream media may make you think, however, you do not need to be wealthy to start investing. Even simply investing a small amount of money can go a long way.
The key to wealth-building is time and consistency. If you have both of these on your side, you’re on the right track. Notice that we did not say that a large income was necessary. Really, you can start investing with less than $100. Read on to learn about two key investment strategies, and to find out how you can start investing and building your wealth.
One of the questions to ask yourself before starting to invest is what method you’d prefer. There are two main approaches:
Under this investment strategy, you would divide up the total amount of money you want to invest across a period of time. You would purchase regardless of how the market is doing. Investors who opt for this strategy do so in hopes of mitigating the impact of a volatile market (which just means a crazy market).
Say you have a goal to invest $1,000 over the span of a year. $1,000 divided over 12 months averages out to about $83 per month. You would thus invest $83 each month, regardless of how the market is doing.
This strategy spreads the overall risk of investing.
Under this investment strategy, you would invest your total amount of desired money into the stock market at a single moment.
Say you got a bonus at your job and you’d like to invest $1,000 of that bonus. Through the lump sum strategy, you would invest those $1,000 in one single moment, rather than spacing them out equally over a period of time.
This strategy gets you into the markets sooner.
How To Decide
Which investment strategy you use is dependent on the amount of income you have available to invest, as well as your tolerance for volatility.
In any case, you can start with whatever amount of money you have.
1. Fractional Shares
Fractional shares are exactly what they sound like: fractions of shares, either individual stocks or ETFs. Rather than having to pay the full market price for an individual share, you can buy slices of shares.
For example, if you wanted to purchase Amazon stock, you would currently need upwards of $3,000 for an individual share. Through fractional investing, you determine how much you want to spend on a slice of an Amazon share: anywhere from $1 to $2,999. Your earnings are proportional to the amount you have invested.
Not only does fractional share investing allow you to buy into companies you want sooner, but it also allows you to diversify your portfolio. Through this practice, you can buy a variety of companies or ETFs in different sectors with less money.
Not all brokerages will allow you to do this. One of our partners, Public, makes this easy for you. With Public, fractional share investing is fee-free and available for many of their offerings. This platform is also great for beginner investors, as it allows you to learn about different companies based on your interests, and shows you what some of your favorite finance creators (like us!) buy into their own portfolio.
2. Employer-Sponsored Retirement Accounts
If your employer offers a retirement account, consider enrolling in it! These include 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and maybe even an HSA.
To invest in these retirement accounts, you set a percentage of each paycheck to be contributed directly. This can either be pre-tax (traditional) or post-tax (Roth). For example, let’s say you elect to contribute 1% of each of your paycheck. Let’s assume each of your paycheck, pre-tax, is at $2,000. 1% of your paycheck would be $20. That means for every paycheck, you would be contributing $20 to your 401(k), pre-tax.
Some employers will even match your contributions to a certain percentage. That’s an added bonus because that just means free money. While starting with 1% of your paycheck seems small, it at least gets you in the market. Over time, you can work on increasing the amount you contribute.
For a deeper dive into how your 401(k) can serve your wealth-building journey, we like Episode 92 with Marie and Stephanie of Winenance.
3. Invest Your Spare Change
Some brokerages allow you to link up your external bank account to their account to round-up your transactions and invest the difference. One of our partners, Stash, has this feature, which they call “Round-Ups.”
Through this method, you truly start small and can do so automatically. For example, if you purchased a drink for $3.25, Stash would round up to $4.00 and invest the $.075 into your investment portfolio. Where this money gets invested depends on what you have elected as your portfolio preferences.
4. Budget Your Investing
If you’re just starting out with investing, chances are you don’t yet have a budget for it. That’s okay. When designing your budget, you’ll want to also think about your investing goals.
Say your budget right now offers a lot of room in your “wants” section. Perhaps a change is to reallocate $50 to $100 per month to investing. As you start your journey and start to feel out your new budget, you can reallocate accordingly to meet your goals and progress.
If you need a budgeting app, we like using Cleo, a free budgeting app that serves as a sassy Siri for your finances.
5. Invest In Yourself Or Your Business
While this isn’t exactly related to the stock market, an investment in yourself is one of the greatest ones you can make.
Maybe you have a business that you’d like to see grow. Consider investing some money into a growth plan, including digital ads, contractors, or hiring someone.
Investments in yourself will vary according to your goals.
The Bottom Line
We know investing can be intimidating. But if you’re here, you’re on the right track. And if you have a few extra dollars or have a smartphone, you can start investing with whatever amount you feel comfortable with. You can ease your way into this world, but never settle. You can start small, but also use the time to build up your knowledge, skills, and comfortability.