The most important part of investing is getting started as early as possible. Rather than waiting until you have a large amount of cash saved up, you can get started today. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to building a healthy portfolio that earns you interest and sets you up for financial success… for as little as $100.
Let’s look at a few fun (and low-cost) ways that anyone can start building an investment portfolio today.
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1. Start with High-Interest Savings Accounts
The easiest, and most flexible, way to begin your investment adventure is actually to start saving your money in a high-yield savings account. While your return will be more limited than on the stock market, it will also be a safer investment–and you can withdraw your funds at any time without penalty.
If you don’t already have a sufficient emergency savings account established (ideally, six months’ worth of expenses), this is a must. Even if you do have some money saved away, a savings account can be a great way to keep a smaller amount of funds safe and secure, yet accessible.
The savings accounts of today won’t earn you as much as they would have ten or twenty years ago. However, there are some online banks offering as much as 1.75% on high-yield savings accounts right now, and the interest rate climbs every day. This makes them a great introduction to the world of interest-bearing funds.
2. Earn with a CD
If you want your money to earn a bit more than it would with a high-yield savings account but still need the funds to be secure against market drops, then you can look into a certificate of deposit, or CD. These savings vehicles offer a guaranteed rate of return on your investment, in exchange for locking your money away for a specified period of time.
As long as you leave the funds alone until the end of the CD term, you will receive your full investment amount plus the agreed-upon interest. It’s a safe, easy way to earn extra cash on your savings!
CDs come in a number of different flavors. For instance, there are CDs ranging in term from as little as three months to as many as five or six years. The longer the term, the higher interest rate you’ll be offered.
Right now, for instance, you can find rates as high as 2.80% for CDs. This is double the rate offered by many banks for high-yield savings accounts, which means you can earn quite a bit more for your investment. As long as you know for certain that you won’t need to withdraw your funds early (usually incurring a painful early-withdrawal penalty), putting cash into a CD is a safe and easy way to invest.
3. Invest in Your Retirement Through Work
Interested in tax-advantaged retirement funds that will help you invest in your future? Then look into starting (and fully funding) an IRA, in addition to your 401(k), through your employer.
If your employer offers to match contributions toward your 401(k), you should always take advantage of this. Even if you only contribute enough to collect the full employer match, that’s fine; failing to do so is essentially leaving free money on the table, though. Plus, your 401(k) contributions are tax-deductible and will grow over time, providing you with a healthy retirement nest egg for your future.
IRAs are also excellent long-term investment vehicles, primarily for the tax benefits. If you open a traditional IRA, your contributions will be tax-deductible up to the annual maximum. If you qualify for a Roth IRA, your contributions won’t be tax-deductible now, but your withdrawals will be when the time comes to utilize those funds. (To learn more about which IRA best suits your needs, check out this article.)
Saving for retirement is the second-most-important priority (behind establishing a healthy emergency savings account). Before worrying about building a stock market investment portfolio, be sure that you are setting your older self up for success.
4. Utilize an Investment App (Stash)
Ready to dabble in the stock market, but don’t quite know where to start? Or maybe you don’t think that you have enough investable funds to warrant a stock brokerage? Well, then an investment app might be the perfect introduction for you and your money.
There are a number of intro-to-investing apps on the market today, but one of our favorites is called Stash. After answering a few questions to determine your investment style (do you want to be super conservative with your money, or risk more in order to potentially make more?), Stash will curate recommendations for you.
There are no investing minimums¹ to start using Stash, which makes it one of the most flexible and affordable investment options around. Plus, the monthly fee can be as low as $1.² Yep, for only $1, you can get curated investment options as well as advice and resources. This makes Stash truly ideal for beginner investors who don’t really know where to start or aren’t ready for a financial advisor just yet.
¹For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
²You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
DoughRoller is a paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser.
5. Robo-Advisors Might Be the Answer
There are a number of robo-advisors on the market today, most of which offer you automated investment options for a reasonable (or even, cheap) price tag. This makes them a great option for beginner or hands-off investors who want their money to grow without constant oversight.
Companies like Betterment and Wealthfront offer easy-to-use platforms that make investing as simple as using a savings account. Simply add the money you want to invest (as much or as little as you can afford each month) to your account and watch Betterment work its magic by investing your funds in ETFs (exchange traded funds).
Robo-advisors will help you rebalance your portfolio over time, can reinvest your dividends, and will even help you with tax loss harvesting. The fees are a bit higher than you would find if you invested your funds directly with a company like Vanguard, but the added expense may be well-worth it to you for the convenience of a hands-off approach.
6. Check Out Peer-to-Peer Lending
Looking for a quick return on your funds, whether you’re investing $25 or $2,500? Then look into peer-to-peer lending.
Platforms like Lending Club and Prosper allow approved investors to put up funds in denominations as low as $25. You’ll be able to choose the peer loans that you’re most interested in, lending money directly to borrowers and enjoying return rates ranging from 5% to as high as 33% in some cases.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending comes with additional risks, but with great risk comes great rewards–namely in the form of interest rates higher than you’re guaranteed to find elsewhere.
Investing doesn’t only mean spending tens of thousands of dollars on stocks and building a Wall Street portfolio. It simply means making your money work for you, and you can get started for as little as a few bucks.
There are plenty of options to begin building your first portfolio, letting your money earn interest and grow over time. Whether you choose a high-yield savings account or go the high-risk/high-return route of the stock market, the important thing is to start early. How will you start your investment journey, even if it’s only with $100?