Investing is one of the best ways to grow your money over time, but a common belief that prevents people from getting started is the idea that you need a large amount of money to get in the game. The truth is, the actual amount you need might be less than you think.
Yes, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re also managing any debt you may have and building your savings. But no matter what amount you currently have in your bank account, there’s a path for you to begin.
Here’s how much it takes to start investing, and the steps you can take to make it happen.
Since investing is not a one-size-fits-all game, how much you’ll need to start depends on who you invest with – but technology has made it easier than ever, no matter what your financial starting point is.
For example, you can begin investing for the price of a latte thanks to apps like Stash or Acorns, which allow you to start with as little as $5. These apps provide convenience but not a lot of handholding if you’re new to investing. You can also choose a robo-advisor that uses more complex algorithms (and some human assistance) to build a portfolio for you. These typically have minimum deposit ranges anywhere from $500 to $5,000.
Another option is working with a financial professional to create your portfolio. In this case, the minimum deposit will vary depending on which financial institution you work with. For people who have some experience investing already, you can even go the self-directed route, where you build your own portfolio.
In all of these instances, however, the minimum deposit amount is not the only cost you need to consider. Make sure to consider costs like management fees and/or sales commission fees, and other costs associated with the provider you work with. Do your research so you know all of the associated costs.
Take advantage of any employer-sponsored retirement accounts, if they’re offered. Some employers offer a 401k match up to a certain amount. Plus, contributions are directly withdrawn from your paycheck with pre-tax dollars.
If you don’t have the money required to cover the minimum deposit or fees associated with other types of investing, you need a plan to get there. It starts with getting the rest of your finances in order. If you have a large amount of debt (or haven’t built up an emergency savings plan) yet, those tasks should take precedence over investing. Here are three steps to get everything in line so you can start investing wisely:
1. Assess your net worth and pay down debt
First things first: calculate your net worth so you get a baseline of your overall financial health. This number is what you own (assets) minus what you owe (liabilities). If you have high-interest debt like credit cards, pay those off first, putting as much toward that as you can afford each month.
2. Build up your savings
You need a little cushion in case of a major life shift, health issue, or other unexpected change. The general rule of thumb is to have at least six months' worth of your household income set aside for emergencies, such as unexpected medical bills or losing your job. If six months sounds intimidating, start with three months and grow your savings from there.
If money is tight, start by setting aside a small amount automatically every month. Remember: Setting aside a little bit of money each paycheck is better than doing nothing at all.
3. Plan for different life stages
Your investing strategy doesn’t need to stay stagnant; it can and should vary depending on what stage of life you’re in. To get some ideas on what type of investor you might be, look at three factors:
Investing can seem intimidating, but once you assess your current financial situation and research your options, you can carve out your own path. And be sure to reach out to a financial professional if you have questions on getting started.
Ready to begin? Walk through the basics of how to start investing.