To the outsider, the stock market looks like an exclusive club filled with busy rich people in suits. In reality, however, it’s anything but that.
The stock market is a place where anyone — including you — can invest in stocks, bonds, funds, and all types of securities for any amount of money. Whether you have one dollar or a million dollars, you could grow that money into more money to be used in the future.
But if you have, say, $100 lying around, what can you actually do with it? (Besides spend it, of course.)
Why, you can buy a few of the best-performing stocks. You can even own small percentages of hundreds of stocks. There are many ways you can take that extra scratch and potentially turn it into more money in the future. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started:
Buy low-cost ETFs.
Popular ETFs like $SPY, $VOO, and $QQQ all let you invest in hundreds of companies for one relatively low price, but they still cost over $100 a share. Some newer ETFs, however, cost a lot less. $SPYX, the fossil fuel-free alternative to $SPY, costs under $55 a share as of this writing. $FTXG, which follows the food & beverage market with holdings like General Mills and PepsiCo, costs around $20 a share. ETFs are a relatively lower risk way to invest money without buying individual stocks, and if you’re investing for the first time, they might be the way to go. (If you want to learn more about ETFs, read this.)
Put your money into an Acorns or Stash account.
Apps and services like Acorns, Stash, and Betterment let you invest for as little as $5. You simply link your bank account, choose what kind of portfolio you want to invest in, and watch your money (hopefully) grow over time. Acorns and Betterment let you pick your portfolio based on tolerance of risk (high risk/high gains or lower risk/lower gains), while Stash lets you invest in different businesses sectors. Each app nets you fractions of shares and funds, and while they collect fees, they’re a great way for brand new investors to start.
Invest in stocks on the Dow.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, or the Dow, is the weighted average of thirty American industry-leading companies. When people talk about the market going up and down, they mean the Dow. Companies like American Express ($AXP), Cisco ($CSCO), Coca-Cola ($KO), and Pfizer ($PFE) are listed on the Dow, with single shares selling for under $100 each. These companies are often featured in retirement portfolios, and buying single shares could help bolster your own portfolio, too.
Buy fractions of a share with Stockpile.
Normally, you have to buy whole shares of a stock. Stockpile, however, lets you buy fractions of a share. If you have $100 and the company you want to invest in has a stock worth well over $100, you can buy $100 worth of that stock through Stockpile. Each transaction with Stockpile has an added fee, but its relatively minimal and can help you invest in big-name companies without breaking the bank.
Put money into your 401k.
Putting money in a work-sponsored retirement account can help you save for your future and potentially reap sweet tax benefits. For many 401k accounts, there’s usually no minimum contribution requirement. That means you can put your $100 in now, watch it grow over the years, and take out more than the original $100 investment when you’re older.
You could put that $100 away in your savings or money market account, but the interest accrued won’t be anywhere near as high as the potential gains from investing the same amount. You might want to buy something with that $100 now, but you could also invest that $100 and buy many more somethings later.
Remember: always do what’s best for your future. If you spend less now and invest more, you can earn more over time and potentially retire earlier. While investing never guarantees you money, it’s still a smart, safe way to save for a better tomorrow.