Investing is a great way to make money over time. Your money gets invested in stocks or assets, and passively increases in value over the years. However, to many folks, investing feels like a rich person’s game. Extra money that can be tucked away in a stock portfolio may not be readily available. But in this blog, we’re going to give some tips to anyone who is interested in investing, whether you’re new to the whole concept or if you don’t have a lot of money to invest.
The key to being able to invest money is to set aside extra income for that purpose. It doesn’t have to be a lot. A few extra dollars per paycheck can go a long way over several years. If you were already saving money each month, you can consider investing all or some of it.
1. Savings Account
If investing is still scary to you, but you want to set yourself up for success, you should start with a savings account at your favorite financial institution. This is a step up from putting money in a cookie jar, and ensures that you’ll get at least a little bit of interest (although it’s never going to be a lot). Savings accounts aren’t tied to a debit card, but the money can still be easily withdrawn if needed. This means you can’t “accidentally” spend it during a bout of retail therapy, but also that it’s accessible during an emergency.
If you’re looking for a savings account, Oregonians Credit Union has a lot of options! Read the linked article to learn more about the best savings account choices.
2. Use a Robo-Advisor
The stock market is an intimidating and scary thing if you’ve never invested before. Luckily there are solutions for people who want to dip their feet into investing, but are still overwhelmed by it. Robo-advisors are automatic services that invest for you. You answer a few questions about your financial goals and your level of risk, then it does the rest. The service will buy and sell stocks as needed and always reinvest the money in a variety of stocks.
The main downside is that these services can cost up to $500 and sometimes come with service fees. That means that if you don’t have a lot of money to work with, this option might not be practical. Unless you also have $500+ to invest upfront, it will take a while to pay for itself.
So, do you have the money to spend and invest, but not the time to learn the stock market and monitor your stocks? Then a robo-advisor service is the way to go!
3. Mobile Apps
It’s the 2020s, which means anything worth its salt is available on your smartphone. Many investing services are available as mobile apps, putting the power literally in the palm of your hand. In the past, buying and selling stocks required a fee. Thanks in part to the success of mobile apps that don’t charge these fees, that is mostly a thing of the past. Using one of these apps will be entirely free and you’ll get the most out of your money.
You can invest in a fraction of a stock rather than buying a full one, you can invest in cryptocurrencies, and you can easily take advantage of dramatic price changes. The advantages are pretty endless! The main difference between these apps and normal stock market investing is that they promote buying and selling stocks at a more rapid pace. On the other end of the spectrum, most traditional investing is long-term, with the aim of growing the value of the stock through dividends over many years. Investing apps encourage you to keep an eye on price fluctuations and “buy low, sell high”. Not quite day-trading, but still faster than most traditional investing. If you want to gamify your investing, using a mobile app is a fantastic way to do so. It’s like getting a new high score!
The great thing about a mobile app for investing is that you don’t need much money to get started. You can buy a huge variety of stocks for under $10 or even under $5, if that’s all you have available to start with.
3. Real Estate
Obviously if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket, real estate can be a great investment opportunity. But what if you don’t have that much money yet still want to get started in real estate? There are now crowdfunded real estate investments – in other words, you and a larger group of people each put up a portion of the cost of a piece of real estate, and everyone will benefit from it based on how much they put in.
These investments may be in the thousands of dollars, and come with a degree of risk since they will not be diversified like a stock portfolio. The advantages (other than not having to have a large sum of money) include the fact that you share the cost and risk with other people and you don’t have to actually maintain the building since you are not the owner. The value of a piece of real estate is independent of the stock market, which should be an advantage as well. You may be faced with some fees by working through a crowdfunding service, but with as little as $500 you could get started investing in real estate, if the stock market is still intimidating.
4. Retirement Fund
Every little bit taken out of your paycheck feels like a sting, but if you can contribute to a retirement account then you really should. An employer-sponsored 401(k) account will generally match your contributions up to a certain extent. If you can reach that threshold (whether it’s a percentage or an amount) then you’ll be making the most out of your money in the long term. It’s basically just free money! But you need to have the ability to invest that money in your retirement account in the first place. Start with 1% of each paycheck. This should be easy enough. From there, try investing an extra percent over the first few years. You’ll thank yourself later when you retire! Saving any money in any sort of investment account can be used for retirement, however the key here is the matching contribution that your employer may offer. If you don’t have an employer-sponsored 401(k) there are other retirement account options that you can open yourself, including various types of IRAs.
5. Mutual Funds
Mutual funds are portfolios of stocks and bonds that can be purchased in one transaction. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of money to invest, the $500 – $5000 upfront cost may be a little much. If you do have the funds to make a mutual fund an option, they are excellent options for long-term growth investments. They’re also great for new investors who want a diverse portfolio but aren’t sure exactly how to put one together.
6. Financial Planning Services
At Oregonians Credit Union, we offer services from an experienced financial advisor. This service helps Oregonians members create investment and retirement plans. If you’re just looking for generic financial advice, 401(k) tips, or stock advice, then the financial planning service will be useful to you! If you have difficult questions about your finances, let’s get in touch. Our advisor is a registered representative of CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC
There are plenty of ways to invest, whether you have a lot of money or only very little money. If you don’t have a lot of money you can start small with an investing app. Once you’re a bit more comfortable and familiar with the world of investing you can move on to strengthening your retirement fund, putting more money into a diversified stock portfolio, or even starting an adventure in real estate investing!