You have a crisp, new one hundred-dollar bill in your wallet.
Listen up. Just because you don't have much money to invest doesn't mean you shouldn't invest it.
Want to know the most difficult part of investing? Starting.
You read that right!
Just starting is rather difficult, and once you accomplish that challenge, investing going forward is pretty easy.
For those of you who are discouraged because you only have a little bit of money to invest – don't fret!
One hundred dollars is a great way to get your foot in the door and start a habit of investing that could very well lead to a bountiful harvest down the road.
I'll tell you from the start that it isn't easy to find ways to invest just $100 or even how to invest $1,000 dollars. Many brokers have account minimums.
Additionally, sometimes you might find yourself being charged, for example, a $50 annual fee which can cut your account in half. That makes no sense.
However, there are a few ways you can invest $100 dollars and have it be worth your time and effort. I'll show you how.
I also invited a plethora of other financial experts to lend their advice for this article. You'll get a big helping of financial advice along with some unique ideas I didn't even have in mind. Really, these guys are smart and creative – pay attention to what they have to say! If you are feeling a bit more ambitious, check out a great read on the best way to invest $20,000 dollars. 🙂 One step at a time!
Investments Worthy of Your One Hundred Bucks
1. Lending Club
Lending Club is a peer-to-peer lending service. Peer-to-peer lending is just what it sounds like: it's lending to someone else. Ordinary folks lend and borrow from each other to make a profit. Lending Club is actually the world's largest online marketplace for connecting borrowers and investors.
I'd take the $100 and split it in four investment sources on Lending Club and then reinvest the profits. Simple, boring and so not rock star.
You can actually make some pretty sweet returns at Lending Club and the good news is you can invest with as little as $25. Plus, there's no account minimum currently at Lending Club.
I wouldn't recommend that you invest all of your dough at Lending Club going forward, but it's a great way to start investing and you'll learn the ropes of peer-to-peer lending.
And here's the deal: you can fund an IRA or Roth IRA with as little as $100. That's right, there's no minimum at Scottrade, so you have no excuse not to get started investing.
Another great thing about Scottrade is that there are no monthly or yearly maintenance fees – and no inactivity fees! That means if you decide you want to invest 100 bucks and aren't sure when you can invest again, you won't pay any penalties for waiting.
You should keep in mind, however, that certain other types of non-IRA accounts do have a minimum: $2,500. So if you're looking to invest in a non-retirement account, this could pose a problem. But hey, you should probably be investing for your retirement first before you start investing for other purposes.
The bummer about Scottrade, like many other discount online brokers, is that they don't provide investment advice for most accounts. However, they do offer a portfolio manager that will help you find new investments based on your risk tolerance.
3. Betterment or similar Robo-Advisors
Robo-advisors are a class of investment adviser that provides portfolio management online without the need for much human interaction.
Another company in this category is Acorns, which specializes in micro-investing by rounding up the change on your purchases.
I put my first $100 investment into an Acorns account.
4. EverBank – MMA
Currently, their high-yield MMA account offers 1.1% APY for the first year. While that's certainly a fraction of what you could potentially make with the previously mentioned ways to invest $100, it's a great way to guarantee that you won't lose your money. Your deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor.
If, by chance, you have more money to invest than $100, you may want to check out more ways to invest with confidence.
How do you decide if you should invest in something safer but with lower rates, like a EverBank MMA account, or something riskier but with potentially higher rates, like Lending Club? There are many factors that go into making this kind of decision, and I'd like to take a minute to explain how you can make the appropriate one.
If you don't have at least eight months of emergency savings, it's probably best to start by investing your $100 into a money market account. You're going to want liquidity if an emergency arises and, while many of the other types of ways to invest $100 might allow you to pull out your money quickly, there may be some drawbacks like pulling out of the market too early or needing money in the middle of a loan term. A money market account can even come with limited check writing capabilities to make your money accessible at any time
Once you have a fully-funded emergency fund, it's a better time to do some riskier investing.
5. Your 401(k)
This is the easiest way to invest your money. You can have money taken directly out of your paycheck and deposited into your 401(k), starting with your first $100. This is so simple to do, yet so many people don't. And hey, if you have a 401(k) match, why not take advantage of it?
If this were my first $100 ever, earmarked for investing, I'd increase my 401(k) contribution to $100, where it would get matched dollar-for-dollar by my employer. Pretty tough to beat an instantaneous 100% gain. 🙂
Keep in mind, however, that you better know what you're investing into within the 401(k) – don't you even think about target date mutual funds!
Yes, investing in yourself is one of the best ways to enrich your life – financially and otherwise.
Invest in yourself. The ROI on investing in your own earnings potential is radically higher than “just” buy stocks-for-the-long-run in a Roth IRA. It's not even close! For young people, investing into human capital crushes the return potential for investing into financial capital.
Sophisticated Spender would use that money to take her mentor out to lunch and pick said mentor's brain on how they invest – and turn that into a brainstorming session!
I absolutely love the idea to pick a mentor's brain. Sometimes, just talking with like-minded individuals can really help too.
In fact, I happily pay $7,900 a year for Strategic Coach, but believe me, I was once skeptical that going through a coaching program would actually produce results.
When I finally realized that something was missing from my business and life, I talked it over with my wife. She thought I was already pretty motivated in my business and life and didn't really see a point in coaching so I could become even more motivated. She had a good point.
But amazingly, after a lot of discussion, she gave me her blessing to move forward and be mentored in the coaching program, and I've found it to be hugely beneficial.
The bottom line is that you shouldn't overlook investing in yourself. And if you don't believe me, just continue reading all the advice below from these financial experts…
I'd invest $100 in improving my skills through online courses on sites like Coursera, Udemy, Lynda, or Code Academy. A more diverse skill set will offer returns for life.
I would use the money to learn a new skill. Sites like Lynda or Creative Live can offer you a good return on your investment.
While investing in a Roth IRA is good, it's only worth it if you keep investing. Instead, I'd rather take $20 and invest in a knowledge course on Udemy. I'd sharpen my skills in a specific area, then take the rest of the money and advertise my new service to my customers and new customers. If all goes well, that $100 could end up earning me $1,000 in a month or more. That new skill could keep me earning more month after month, which is an excellent way to spend $100. Don't try to learn something from scratch, just sharpen a skill to make you marketable.
The best investment you can do with only $100 is to invest in yourself through some online courses, like Udemy, that will build skills that will take you further in your current job, prepare you for the next job, or help you to start a side hustle. Building these skills will make you more valuable, thus increase your earning capacity, which will result in more money to invest on a regular basis.
I believe that not everyone is in the position to earn a high income consistently over a lifetime but they can find opportunities for stock-market investing, generate unearned income, and build wealth over time. Plus, the earlier you invest, the earlier you'll learn about investing and develop your own style, whether active or passive.
Notice that by jumping in and doing a little investing, you can learn about investing and “develop your own style.” Very true. Sometimes, we just need to start small. Great idea, Julie!
Buy a book, a bottle of vodka, and take a buddy out for lunch. The book should be a biography so that you study someone who has done what you want to do. Vodka should be a for wild night out on the town. Take a successful friend out for lunch and pick their brain.
Martin, this is a great idea. I mean the taking a successful friend out to lunch, part. 😉
Speaking of buying books, that's my next tip…
Books can change lives – why not invest in them?
Want two on my reading list? The Art of Work by Jeff Goins and People Over Profit by Dale Partridge.
Want a few classics that will improve your finances? Here are my picks:
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Another expert recommendation came from Alan Steinborn:
I'd take $10 and buy the book Your Money or Your Life. Then I would take $90 and invest in a fund like Betterment or Acorns.
And if you're looking for bonus points, check out Soldier of Finance by yours truly, Jeff Rose.
To increase my chances of actually being mentioned in the post, I'd have to say go out and buy Soldier of Finance.
Boom. You made the article Steve. 😉
More from GFC, Below
Steve isn't alone about my smarts:
@jjeffrose taking smart people out for coffee and ask them questions. 🙂
I'm flattered guys, really.
Okay, Steve Chou's first recommendation was as follows:
I'd buy a year's worth of Bluehost and start a website.
But, I'm sure he actually likes my book, too. 😉
Speaking of starting your own business though…
8. Your Own Business
Starting your own business can be one of the best things you ever do. The higher up the ladder you are, the more you get paid, and the more control you have. And you can't go any higher than owning your own business.
I'm gonna take that $100, invest it in a leaf blower and a rake, and start a side business that will make me beaucoup bucks!
True, you can build a business from scratch! Looks like Greg isn't afraid of hard work!
I would spend it on something that I could sell for more, then continue the process. For instance, buying something at an estate sale that you can turn and flip on eBay or Craigslist.
I can't tell you how many things I've purchased at garage sales for $10 and turned a $100 profit. I ended up buying a piece of property for $8k with all my profits by the end of the year.
I'd totally invest in entrepreneurship. Lawn mower –> five neighbors as customers –> at $5 / month each –> $300 for 1st year. 300% return on first year.
The entrepreneurially-minded have much greater chances of financial success. Even if you think you're not the entrepreneurial type, give it a shot. You don't know how you'll do until you try. You could even try with something as easy as to become and Uber driver. Pick up that side hustle and make extra cash in your free time to put towards your new business!
Prosper is another peer-to-peer lending service worth checking out. Like Lending Club, you can make some pretty nice returns.
In fact, a couple years ago I put Lending Club and Prosper head-to-head in an experiment. Take a look at this article to see the results: The Prosper Vs. Lending Club Experiment.
Again, like Lending Club, you can invest as little as $25 and there's no account minimum.
Loyal3 is an interesting option that allows you to buy and sell stock for free.
But there is a catch. They only offer a few big-name stocks such as Apple, Best Buy, Coca-Cola, and other names you're sure to recognize. Don't expect to find diversified funds in the mix.
However, they do let you invest small amounts like $100. In fact, Loyal3 is one of the few brokers that let you buy fractional shares. For example, if a company's share price is $350, that's usually the minimum you can invest. But with Loyal3, you can feel free to invest a fraction of that price (and get a fraction of a share).
I'd start investing in a favorite company through Loyal3 for no fees.
So, if you are in love with a particular company and you'd like to place your bets on them, Loyal3 just might be the ticket.
If you travel a lot, spending your Benjamin on making your trips more efficient can help you save a bundle of money and time.
Buy something today that will save you money or time over the long run. If you fly a lot, maybe it's the Recheck program ($85) so you can breeze through airport security much faster, which will save you time and money (and stress).
That's a good tip, but make sure your airlines will honor that if you're flying internationally – we had to learn that the hard way on a recent trip.
I would show my kids that I was investing that money for a family chosen purpose. They will keep you accountable and depositing into that account, especially if it is for something like a vacation.
One last tip on traveling by air: invest in some blankets. Coming home from a trip we had to sleep on nasty airport carpet because our flight was canceled. Maybe invest in some small pillows too.
12. Index Funds, Baby!
Index funds are a pretty popular choice for investment managers, and for good reason. Hey, even Warren Buffett chimed in on the glories of index funds in one of his recent letters:
My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund (I suggest Vanguard's). I believe the trust's long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals – who employ high-fee managers.
Many of the financial experts I found had the same advice…
Open a Roth IRA and invest in a low fee S&P 500 index fund. Watch it grow.
Index fund FTW.
Invest the money only in what you understand. Take the time to understand the different account types and different investment options. For a beginner, index funds are a great way to go because they offer built-in diversification since you are buying into hundreds if not thousands of companies.
Given that a beginner likely has a 401(k) already set up and going, I would recommend the newbie investor use it to start a Roth IRA with either Vanguard or Betterment. For Vanguard, just go into a cash fund until you reach the minimum required to get into their index funds. Take the extra time you would use looking for a good stock and use it to learn about diversification and asset allocation. Good luck!
There's a life cycle to building wealth, and having just $100 to invest says you're right at the beginning. That means the most important thing is to figure out how to increase your savings rate because your savings rate as a percent of the amount you spend will determine how long it takes to achieve financial security. It is only late in that cycle once your savings are firmly established that investment return becomes important. For that reason, simply invest it in cash or low cost, passive index asset allocation approaches (many already mentioned here) so you don't waste critical time focusing on unessential issues. Also, place it in an IRA or other tax-deferred legal legal structure so that you put a fence around it so that you face a penalty if you feel tempted to spend it. The 80/20 rule says focus on saving in the early stage of your wealth curve, and focus on return on investment in the latter stages once savings and essential personal finance habits (like saving) are firmly established.
Speaking of saving…
13. Save it to Save More!
Saving money and using it at an opportune time can be a great investment. There's nothing quite like cash in the bank to take advantage of some great opportunities.
I'd invest it right into my yard sale fund – put it in my glove compartment and keep it there for when I happen upon a steal at 75-90% off! Instant money duplication!
I would buy $100 worth of toilet paper in bulk with a coupon found online. The return on this investment will be somewhere around 50% and is tax-free!
Don't invest it. Period. Keep it in $20 bills in your wallet and have it in reserve in case of emergency or opportunity. (I'm thinking of an opportunity like bulk buying or discount buying for cash.) It's absolutely crazy to think of investing at all until you have at least a few thousand bucks in reserve. If someone is that broke, they're better off using the money to smooth their consumption habits and focus on getting deals with bulk buying.
14. Your Debt
Having debt is like having an investment that goes poorly every moment you hold onto it. If you want a guaranteed return on investment, paying off your debt is a great idea.
Put it on the highest interest rate debt you owe.
Why not invest in others and what it does in their lives? I'd argue there's nothing quite as rewarding as investing in people.
$100 isn't going to be effective at all unless you plan on following up with additional investments. I think that money would be better spent while mentoring a child or teenager who needs a good role model.
Long Pham also knows me all too well and also suggested investing in something I love:
In-N-Out gift card? : )
You could always send me some of those gift cards – I'd say that's pretty charitable. 😉
16. Your Thrift Savings Plan
Military version: contribute your $100 windfall to the military's Thrift Savings Plan, and try to save even more there!
Doug has a great idea here, but it's also important to make sure the Thrift Savings Plan is the right choice for you.
Now, here are a few investments you shouldn't put your money into – they're sneaky and dangerous! Once you are ready to move forward with more investing, check out some of our great reviews such as our Lending Club Review to help you know what will work best for you.
Investments You Should Avoid
Cement these bad investments in your mind now. Seriously.
These investments either have a high probability of you losing your money or probably won't yield much of a return.
1. Penny Stocks
Penny stocks – also known as over-the-counter stocks – are dangerous. In other words, you can lose your money in a hurry – and that's what I did.
Yep, your very own Jeff Rose made a mistake by getting caught up in penny stocks.
Think of penny stocks as the “wild, wild west” of trading. Just because the stock trading is at $0.80 doesn't mean you can buy at $0.80. When you put in your order to buy at market, the price can jump up much higher before the order takes place. That's a problem.
2. Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
If it sounds too good to be true . . . .
You know it usually is!
Be careful anytime anyone says there's a “secret” way to get rich that hardly anyone knows about. Be careful when the sales pitch offers returns that are astronomically high. Be careful when everyone around you is saying it's a get-rich-quick scheme!
Follow that advice, and you should be okay.
3. Anything from a Late-Night Infomercial
“Buy now, and you'll get our investor's guide worth $1,000,000!”
Infomercials are super long commercials that claim to give you valuable information. Many times, these infomercials are pretty cheesy and so are the products. What they are great at is sucking you in. The people who pitch infomercials are trained and experienced at putting something in front of you that you would never pick up off the shelf in a super store and then convincing you that you cannot live without that product. They are the modern day equivalent of the pet rock sales man. Beware.
Gambling is the ugly sister of investing. Don't do it people!
But if you're going to do it, you might as well have some fun…
If you only have $100, put it on red in Vegas. If you're right, you'll double your money. If you're wrong, you're only out 100 bucks.
Risky? Yeah. Fun? Could be. 😉
5. Investments You Don't Understand
Only invest in something you know. Don't throw money at something that you don't understand or haven't done before. Most of the time it'll be throwing it into the garbage.
He could say that again. Have you read how one woman paid over $3,500 in variable annuity fees and didn't even know it? It's pretty amazing how much you can pay in fees without even knowing it.
Your first $100 should be invested in something you know and like. If you like sports you could invest in Nike, favorite lunch spot is Chipotle then make that your investment, love social media then maybe Facebook or Twitter are for you. I think it's more about learning and having an interest in your investment.
If you're going to use this approach, make sure that you own enough companies (domestic and international) to diversify your portfolio. The last thing you want is to own just a few companies and see your investments crash. I think Even Steven would agree that it's best to own a lot of companies you love.
6. Keepsake “Investments”
I remember when I was a little kid I invested way too much into baseball cards. Their worth today? Not much to speak of.
Whatever you do, don't buy your favorite player's rookie card and store it in a safe deposit box to protect your “investment.”
Oops. Well, I was a kid, so who could blame me?
Want to Invest More?
If you have a little more money to invest – about $250 – then you can start investing with Motif, learn more about them by looking over this great Motif review– it's what I'm using during the Grow Your Dough Throwdown 2.0.
I had a chance to meet Nick and Saquib who work at Motif and they expressed interest in doing another throwdown. I was interested, but as soon as they told me they could get together a whole bunch of financial bloggers on a leaderboard, I was sold.
In fact, you can even buy my very own Motif! Fun stuff, eh?
Keep on Investing!
Listen up people. Investing $100 (or even $250) isn't enough investing to build a nice nest egg. You're going to have to continue investing. Duh, right?
The best way to invest $100? Repeatedly.
Yep, I agree.
But hey, you have to start somewhere. Start at $100 and one day you will see yourself investing $500,000! Keep big goals in mind!
You might be wondering how much money you'll need to have to retire. Well, I recently put up an article on Forbes that seeks to answer the question if $2 million was enough for a couple to retire. The truth is that you'll need to run specific numbers for your situation in order to answer this question for yourself.
Or, I could help you.
Either way, here's my final advice:
- Start investing as soon as possible
- Start investing even if you don't have much
- Keep on investing
Invest, have fun, and let me know how it goes!