5 Ways To Get Started Investing With Very Little Money

5 ways to get started investing with very little moneyDo you think that it is impossible to build a balanced investment portfolio if you have very little money to invest?

Think again.

Using very little money, you can spread your investments across the full spectrum of asset classes – stock-based mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, bonds, and even commodities.

All you have to do is know where to find investments that you can start with as little as $50 or $100. And there are plenty of options.

1. Give Betterment a whirl.

Betterment is an online investment firm that has no minimum investment or balance requirement. They do however require that you contribute a minimum of $100 per month to your account. It is not a traditional brokerage firm that will allow you to invest in the stocks and funds of your choice, but is an excellent place to start investing with very little money.

With Betterment, you basically have two investment options. Each option is referred to as a basket that is made up of a mix of exchange traded funds, or ETFs. One basket is comprised of stocks, and the other of treasury bonds. All you need to do is to choose your allocation between the two baskets, and your contributions will automatically be invested based on the allocation.

Another benefit to small investors is that Betterment does not charge transaction fees. The only charge they assess is an annual fee equal to .35% of your account balance, on account balances up to $10,000. If you have $1,000 in your account, your annual fee will be $3.50. When your balance exceeds this amount, the annual fee will be progressively lower.

The strategy is simple yet aggressive, and this can be a benefit to someone investing with very little money. Since you don’t have a lot of money to spread over many different assets, you need to keep your investment system as simple as possible. And since you want to grow a small amount of money into a large amount, Betterment’s aggressive approach is a solid way to get there.

Nearly every large investor started out as a small one. But the advantage that you have today is that there are more options for the small investor than ever before. Start with the investment options above, build a larger amount of money, and then you’ll be able expand your options even more. The most important part of investing is always getting started. And having very little money is no longer an excuse.

Read more in our Betterment Investing Review.

2. Try out I Bonds.

I Bonds are US government securities and they can make the perfect bond allocation of a small investor’s portfolio. You can buy them directly from the U.S. Treasury through their website at Treasury Direct.

You can purchase I Bonds in denominations as low as $25 ($50 if you buy using your income tax refund), up to a maximum denomination of $10,000. The minimum term is one year, running to a maximum of 30 years.

Rate of return on the bonds is a combination of interest and semi-annual adjustments for inflation. All income is added to the face amount of the bond and payable at redemption. The current rate of return on an I Bond is 1.76%, which is far better than what you can get on certificates of deposit for much longer terms, and for far larger denominations.

I Bonds are also tax-exempt for state income tax purposes, though the income earned is taxable at the federal level.

3. Buy mutual funds or ETFs through an IRA.

Most mutual funds have minimum initial investments that range anywhere from $1,000 and up. If you’re just beginning to invest and doing so with small amounts of money you generally will not be able to participate in funds. But there is a way around that.

Most mutual funds will waive minimum requirements if you invest in them through an individual retirement arrangement (IRA). You’ll be able to fund your IRA with periodic contributions of only say, $50 or $100 each month, and investing the money in funds as you do.

4. Invest in silver coins.

If you are interested in diversifying into tangible assets, a good option for small investors is silver coins. Silver is currently trading around $30 an ounce, so you will pay roughly that amount for one ounce coins, plus a mark up for broker fees.

Fees will vary from one broker to another, and depending on which type you choose. There are large national dealers, such as Goldline and Blanchard & Company. When you buy from companies such as these, you’ll pay a fee per coin, plus either shipping charges if you want take delivery, or storage charges if the company stores the coins for you. Transaction fees will be lower for the purchase of a larger number of coins.

You can also buy from a local dealer. The process will be similar, except that you will eliminate shipping charges. And generally speaking, you’ll take delivery of the coins rather than having them stored by a small dealer. This is a less expensive way to purchase silver, however the integrity of a small dealer can sometimes be an issue. If you do work with a local dealer, be sure to check them out with the Better Business Bureau, and get referrals from anyone you know who might have done business with them.

5. Find brokerage firms that waive minimums.

Some brokerage firms will either lower or waive minimum initial investment requirements on certain funds. In the process, they will generally insist that you make regular monthly contributions to the account.

One such firm is Tradeking. There is no minimum to open an account. This won’t allow you to invest in anything you want, but as a small investor, it still an excellent way to get started.

Check with other investment brokerages too. Firms are always changing their product lines, and you may find that you have more options than you think.

Have you been avoiding investing because you think you don’t have enough money? Have you tried any of the investments above? Leave a comment!












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17 Comments
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  1. Great info. I just received my first 401k but was laid off from that company. I am wanting to start looking for ways to invest in my retirement. And unfortunately I have waited late in my life to do this. So how would you find out what is personally best for you?

    Thanks good article.

    • Hi Troy–It really depends on your time horizon, personal preferences, risk tolerance, and oher income sources you expect to have. Investigate all the possibilities, then decide what works best for you.

  2. These are all very good tips. My wife and I used something probably a little less efficient, but effective, nonetheless: we opened a separate savings account we just called “our future” or something like that. Any time we wanted to go out for dinner, we said, “Let’s buy our future dinner, instead,” and we’d put the $50 we were going to spend in there.

    It earned almost no interest, but it acted as a catchment basin for all sorts of money that otherwise would have been flushed down the drain, When it reached something like I thing $2,000 or so (this was a few decades ago) we felt we had enough “critical mass” to open a brokerage account and begin investing.

    What I learned from that is it doesn’t matter how little you start with, but it does matter a lot how soon you start.

    The other thing we learned is: it’s amazing how much money you have to put into something like that when you don’t plan it, but just do it. Every 3 months or so we’d look at the account and go, “Wow, look how much we could put away when we thought we had nothing.” And of course, that fired us up to try even harder.

    • Hi William–Getting started is so important. You can waste a lot of time contemplating how difficult it is, but once you start it somehow gets easier. Forward motion is one of the most under-rated success strategies. At some point you have to put reservations aside and just do something. Sure, it may not be perfect but it really doesn’t have to be either.

  3. Katherine

    Thanks so much for this article! Very informative and makes me see that even though I don’t have a lot of money to invest right now, I still have quite a few options!

  4. To invest in today’s over regulated market you must break the rules of insider trading or else your just gambling not investing. Further all debt should paid and at least 10% of your net worth in gold/silver ( physical ) for financial insurance. Fed res QE 1, 2, 3, 4 has more than trippled total money supply and is reason enough to double that. Good luck investing in anything and actualy making a profit which is the PURPOSE/DEFINITION of investing.

    • And no spending on education , now way over supplied, is not investment, especialy with secular over priced institutions. Don’t believe it? Just go ask the 50%+ unemployed collage grads in the last three years and with 6 figure debt. Quickest way to a life time of debt slavery is buying what educrats are selling.

  5. Harry Poindexter

    Try a direct investment in a company. We did direct investment in Southern Electric (SO) and then DRIP (dividend reinvestment) You can start with $50 and reinvest the dividends it can really add up over time. Set and forget.

  6. Thank-you fo this information. Iam extremely new to learning to save money much less actually investing my money. Thank-you for teaching me options to get started when I have very little to invest to begin with. Iam truly happy to have happened upon this site. Thank-you for the help.

  7. get 2 jobs. live on one and use the other income to build your wealth by purchasing assets.
    learn what an asset is
    learn what a liability is
    spend money on only assets and protect them with knowledge and asset “insurance”
    learn the right things to value and pursue them obsessively, especially if your broke now.

  8. This has been very helpful to read. The money that I have in my savings account has just been sitting there and I’m trying to figure out a way to use a portion of it on some type of investment.

  9. I and many of my associates (friends) are of the over 50 types with years of business experience and the means to produce. NOT in todays socialists, the world owes me, pop culture! I’m thinking there has got to be many more like us just sitting on the side lines waiting for this nonsense to pass.

    • I do not think its going to pass.

      • Looks like the working class will have high un employment for some time. Gotta start voting for free markets or the market will continue to contract.

  10. Wilfred Khalik

    Is it possible for Non-US Citizens to invest in I Bonds?

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