|Investment Type||Best For|
|High-yield savings accounts||Emergency funds and money that needs to be accessible|
|Certificates of deposit (CDs)||Those who don’t need to touch their funds right away|
|Company retirement accounts||Easy contributions, company matching, and investment diversification|
|Investment apps||On-the-go recommendations that are easy to access and often free|
|Robo-advisors||A hands-off approach with a diversified portfolio|
|Peer-to-peer lending||High risks but also high rewards|
If you’re new to investing, the idea of getting started can be daunting. After all, you probably don’t have tens of thousands of dollars lying around to build a portfolio and feel like you can’t make much of a difference with the disposable cash you do have.
Luckily, though, you can start your investment journey for a lot less–even if you only have $100 to begin.
The most important part of investing is getting started as early as possible. Rather than waiting until you have a large sum of money saved up, you can get started today and begin growing your savings. 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.
Deal of the Day: Chase is now offering a $200 cash bonus when opening a Total Checking Account. No minimum deposit and all deposits are FDIC insured up to the $250,000 per depositor maximum.
Let’s look at a few fun (and low-cost) ways that anyone can start building an investment portfolio today.
Table of Contents:
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 returns will be more limited than they would be 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 1.80% on high-yield savings accounts right now, and the interest rate climbs all the time. This makes them a great introduction to the world of interest-bearing funds.
Some of our favorite banks for high-yield savings accounts include CIT Bank, Ally Bank, and Capital One 360. All three are online banks, charge no fees for savings accounts, and offer some of the highest interest rates on the market today.
2. Earn With A CD
If you want your money to grow 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. Plus, many of them have low minimum deposit requirements, meaning that you can get started even if you only have $100 to tuck away.
Right now, you can find rates as high as 2.10% for CDs. This is double (or more) 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 (which usually involves 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.
Not sure if your IRA is as optimized as it could be? Services like Blooom offer to analyze your investment account to ensure that your money is growing as well as it possibly can.
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
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 the perfect recommendations for you.
To start using Stash, you only need $5, making it one of the most flexible and affordable investment options around. Plus, if your account balance is below $5,000, your monthly service fee for using the app is a single dollar.
Yep, for only $1, you can get curated investment options as well as a wealth of 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.
To read our complete review of Stash and learn more about the app, see our write-up here.
5. Robo-Advisors Might Be the Answer
There is a growing number of robo-advisors on the market today, most of which offer you automated investment options for an affordable price tag. This makes them a great option for beginners 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.
You can also opt for a robo-advisor such as Ally Invest or M1 Finance. Ally’s trading platform is free for stocks and ETFs, and charges less than $10 per trade for mutual funds. With M1 Finance, there are no fees to worry about as long as you meet low investment minimums on the platform.
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.
Curious how you can grow your investments if you’re starting out with only $100? Here are a few common questions from others who are just as curious.
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.
Be sure to also watch your progress over time, too, and revisit whether you are making efforts in the right places. No, you don’t need to watch your investments daily or obsess over normal market fluctuations. However, using a platform like Personal Capital to track not only your investments and savings accounts but overall net worth can be invaluable along the way.