How do you start investing? At some point, we all face this question, and for many, it can seem overwhelming or even out of reach. After all, don’t you need a windfall, significant time, and experience? Not necessarily.
The landscape of the investment community has changed drastically over the last decade. The Internet has transformed what is possible, and the mechanics of online options has revolutionized choice and access. And the fundamentals continue to transcend time and generations.
Start Growing Your Money with as little as $1,000
With as little as $1,000, you can grow your money and launch smart and savvy strategies to shape your financial future. That means young parents can take steps today to prepare for their children’s college costs tomorrow. It means rising entrepreneurs can launch their startups sooner. And it means hard-working people can more confidently secure their retirement future.
Here are the top 10 ways to invest $1,000 today:
1. Robo-Advisor (RA): If you are an informed investor, but your budget doesn’t cover a financial planner, this just might be your partner. A robo-advisor is an online wealth management service designed to provide automated, algorithm-based portfolio management advice, and it does it without the expense of human fund managers. Investors utilize online forms to map out investment plans that reflect their goals and profile for risk. RAs offer low-fee models and an opportunity for smaller portfolios that may otherwise fall short of traditional investment minimums.
2. 529 Savings Plan: Your children’s college education will be here before you know it, and it’s going to be expensive. A 529 is a tax-advantaged plan designed to encourage saving for projected college costs. They are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions, and are authorized by Section 529 of the IRS Tax Code. But it’s more than a savings account, it’s an investment fund for your child’s future. Investment components often include: stock mutual funds, bond mutual funds, money market funds, and age-based portfolios that automatically shift to more conservative investments once the beneficiary is college bound. Parents, grandparents, and others can open funds, or contribute to an existing account.
3. Exchange Traded Fund (ETF): If financial markets aren’t your forte, an ETF presents a lower-risk alternative. An ETF is a basket of securities that is traded like a stock, but instead of investing in one company, participants hold a variety of assets. So if one asset goes south, you’re still covered by the remaining entities. ETFs are on the exchange and can trade anytime that the market is open. Trades typically occur between investors, which means greater tax efficiency due to fewer taxable events. In fact, capital gains in ETFs are not attributed until the assets are sold with the complete fund. Lastly, investors are armed with the benefit of transparency as fund holdings are disclosed daily.
4. Certificate of Deposit (CD): Are you looking for the security of a savings account, but better interest? CDs offer fixed maturity dates, specified fixed interest rates, and they can be purchased for as little as $100. The nature of the waiting game combined with penalties that are inflicted for early withdrawals prompts many investors to overlook this possibility. The answer? An ascending CD ladder that diversifies your portfolio through a myriad of terms. The ladder enables higher interest rates to be accrued on your longest term option, while you have faster access to your quickest turnaround. In fact, some CDs reach maturity in 90 days.
5. Roth IRA (RIRA): It’s never too early to begin retirement planning. In fact, nearly half of all Americans have saved nothing. So it’s not surprising that 8 in 10 investors between the ages of 30 and 54 believe they will NOT have enough for their golden years. The answer is to diversify, and that means not solely relying on your savings and employee sponsored 401(k) plan. A Roth IRA is different than traditional retirement accounts, and for an important reason. Tax benefits.
Investors pay income tax on their contributions upfront, so their withdrawal is tax-free upon retirement. Another differentiator is flexibility. If you encounter a downright financial emergency, a unique investment opportunity, or your dream home awaits, your RIRA could provide funding. Roth contributions can be withdrawn penalty-free at any time. To tap into earnings, investors must be at least 59 1/2 years old, but there are several exceptions that are eligible for earlier withdrawals. Post-secondary education expenses, up to $10,000 for first time home buyers, permanent disability, back taxes, some unreimbursed medical expenses, and health care premiums during unemployment all qualify.
6. 401(k): Why turn down free money? The matching employer contribution doesn’t cost you a dime, and you are guaranteed a 100% return on your investment. Additionally, 401(k)s typically offer a variety of possibilities that are not bound by minimum requirements. Make no mistake, the selection is not a plethora of options, but you will likely get access to funds and investment tools that may otherwise be unattainable.
7. Index Fund (IF): Index funds are competitively priced because they aren’t actively managed like other funds. IFs are a type of mutual fund, and constructed to match the components of a market index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. They only have one job, and that’s to track the market. The uncomplicated nature of IFs keeps costs low, and those low costs are passed on to you in the form of better returns.
8. Real Estate Crowdfunding: Once upon a time real estate investing was reserved for the wealthy. Buy-in requirements were upwards of $100,000, and if you didn’t hold court with elite social circles, you were left out in the cold. Recently, it all changed when legislative and regulatory action disrupted the state of affairs, and provided access to a new wave of investors looking to invest smaller sums of capital. With as little as $1,000, your laptop, and some research, this online community could be your next opportunity.
9. Mutual Fund (MF): A mutual fund allows investors to purchase a collection of stocks, bonds, or other securities. And it enables many to reach a level of diversification that they wouldn’t be able to achieve independently. They are typically actively managed to try to beat the performance of an index like the S&P 500. A MF can be traded only after the close of trading each day. It has a minimum holding period and there are penalties for selling early. Fund holding are disclosed quarterly, and average annual expenses are 1.42%.
10. U.S. Government Savings Bond (SB): With a minimum buy in of $25, practically everybody can afford this old school pick. Savings bonds are endorsed by the federal government and much lower risk. When you invest in a savings bond, you loan the amount you paid for the bond to the U.S. government. The bond can earn interest for up to 30 years, and after 12 months, it can be cashed in for its maturity value and accrued interest. While a SB won’t deliver mega-bucks, they are a reliable and safe way to grow your money over extended periods of time.
As investors, we all understand the power of financial literacy and how it can contribute to success over the course of a lifetime. Purchasing SBs for children is a teachable moment that can influence and shape the way that they manage and invest their money throughout adulthood. Show them that monthly statement, and explain the power of earning, saving, and investing.
Always Match Investing Risk with Opportunity
As with any investment, it is critical that your profile for risk matches your opportunity. Ask questions, do your research, and talk to the experts. Remember, you’ve got options and financial planning starts with you.