Whether you’re a college kid reading this, or a 28-year-old in a mediocre career, maybe a millionaire, or even just a 10-year-old kid, (in which case, kudos to you kid for reading up on finance so early in your life, you’re way ahead of the game.) I bet $1,000 sounds a hell of a lot better than $20.
(I probably should have chosen another word besides hell for the 10-year-old reading this. My bad.)
Look, kid, it’s probably best if you read something like the Penny Hoarder, I don’t really hold back here. Unless you’re a bad kid already, in which case I’m happy to have you here to learn.
Why To Invest With $20
So, you want to trade that extra $20 you have laying around for $1,000 huh?
I wish it was as easy as snapping my fingers. But unfortunately, everything in life takes either hard work, patience, or rich parents (kidding on that last one, but that does help). Investing early with only a little money definitely falls under the patience category.
It takes approximately 3 ½ years to turn 20 dollars a month invested into 1,000 dollars. Which may seem like an outrageous amount of time, but if you think about it, 20 dollars a month is only around .66 cents a day. So, your .66 cents a day will end up being about 888 dollars in 3 ½ years if you do nothing with it.
But the coolest part of it is, if you make a 9% return on that money (which is lower than the S&P average, so if invested in a good ETF, you can expect to replicate this), then you will have $1,000 by the time that 3 ½ years is up. Which amounts to $112 without doing ANY work. Pretty SWEET gig if you ask me.
A lot of people will just tell you to save your measly $20. Don’t bother to invest with it, investing is for rich people. Investing is for when you have more than $20 to put towards it.
But the truth of the matter is, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Even just $20 a month is worth investing, and if nothing else, it can help you get your feet wet. As you make more money over time you will know exactly what to do with it.
So, let’s get right into what you came here for.
How Do You Invest Only 20 Dollars Into The Stock Market?
Well, I hope if you are trying to find an answer to this question than that means you are debt free and have a nice and comfortable savings account.
Now, on the other hand, to you newbies who are ready to be the next Warren Buffet with just $20.
Before getting into it, let me mention that with just a small amount of money available to invest, you should primarily be focused on retirementaccountinvesting, as you can save money on taxes by investing this way. I will get more into that later.
You first have to recognize that the largest barrier to entry in investing is that a lot of high performing, quality stocks are expensive. They can run anywhere from $50 to $1,000 (darn you Amazon, you expensive monster). Even ETF’s can be quite expensive at around $150-$250 a share.
They are tough for a college kid or low-income individual to afford and that can really hold you back. (If you are confused about what ETF’s are then you can learn about this and other investment terms as good places to set and forget your money).
So, how do you get around this?
The way I see it, you have three viable options. Well, besides robbing a bank for the money you need to invest. In which case, best of luck to you on that one…
(I am in no way endorsing the act of bank robbery just in case that is misleading… 😉 )
So, that really only leaves you a few options. Let’s dive into them.
1. Open an account with a broker with no minimum deposit requirements and start transferring 20 dollars a month to your account.
This, in my opinion, is the worst option, (if you truly only have 20 dollars).
The reason I say this is because the money will have to accumulate over time until it is enough to purchase whatever ETF or stock you choose. We want to make sure you are getting your money in the stock market as soon as possible so that it has time to grow.
I personally use Charles Schwab for my Roth IRA (since I am able to deposit larger amounts every month rather than only $20) and I have enjoyed using them so far.
I actually preferred Stash over all other options for quite a while. While Stash is a viable option as well I actually made the switch to M1 Finance this year instead of stash, and I love it so far.
The differences are minimal but M1 Financeallows you to automatically rebalance your portfolio with just one click, which sold me.
The reason I recommend Stash for when you’re first starting out is that it allows you to buy fractionalshares of ETF’s or Individual companies you may be interested in. Unlike other brokerages which only allow you to buy total shares of ETF’s or companies, you can afford.
Stash is better for the interested investor as it allows the user to make their own choices for what to invest in.
I enjoy attempting to beat the returns of the S&P 500 and choose to invest in an array of individual companies I believe have the potential to outperform. This is why I initially chose Stash.
But, you must also remember this method comes with greater risk. As you choose your own stocks, you are basically implying that you have a better idea of what stocks will outperform others.
Stock market investing this way without first researching the companies you are buying into is just glorified gambling.
So please, do your own research and choose companies that are either strongly recommended by many financial experts for good reason, or companies that you have a strong belief in and have good opportunity for growth (I will talk more about the process of valuing stocks in future blog posts, so sign up for our email list if you’re interested and be on the lookout for that).
With Stash, it only takes 5 dollars to buy into any company or ETF available on the platform. Stash also offers a retirement investment account as well and it would be wise to use this over just the basic option to ensure you are saving as much money as possible on taxes.
3. You can easily invest with $20 using an app called Acorns.
Now, Acorns is an amazing app when it comes to beginner investing.
It helps to simplify the process of investing so much anyone (yeah, even you total newbies who hate finance but just want to adult for once) can understand it.
Acorns allows you to start investing with as little as 5 dollars and has many ways you can grow that account balance over time.
This is a great place to start investing that $20 dollars you have saved up and you can even set a monthly transfer of 20 dollars to keep the momentum going.
Acorns works by taking the money you invest and buying fractional shares of different ETF’s. This allows you to be able to buy fractional shares of expensive companies.
Some handy features with Acorns are that they have different portfolios that match different goals and expectations. (I always recommend aggressive, go big or go home am I right?)
But you should base your portfolio off the goals you have in mind and the time in which you expect to have your money invested. Acorns makes the process easy by choosing for your based off of your given information (you can always change your portfolio if you please).
Not only do they have this option, but another AMAZING feature they offer is also the ability to use roundups.
What this essentially means is that when you link your bank account to Acorns you have the option to turn roundups on so that every purchase you make will be rounded up to the nearest dollar.
The spare change is then invested into your Acorns account. This is an amazing feature because this can really allow money to accumulate in your investment account without you noticing.
When I was using roundups I was averaging about 20-30 dollars a month just from roundups. So this is a feature you should really consider using, most of the time you never even notice the money is gone.
Acorns costs a dollar a month for their lowest priced plan, and they also offer retirement accounts called Acorns Later which should primarily be your focus until you have more money to invest. This is because retirement accounts have tax benefits you cannot receive in a normal taxable investment account.
OH. Acorns is also free for you broke college kids out there!!
(and only a dollar a month for anyone else. Definitely worth the money!)
Investing with only $20, $50, or even $100 dollars may seem like a pretty boring and measly thing to do. But to be honest, we all have to start somewhere.
I started with only $20 when I began investing.
Now I not only have thousands of dollars invested, but I also get paid dividends often that I use to reinvest and continue to grow my account balance.
It’s important to remember that you may only have 20 dollars now, but eventually, you will have more. You need to try your best to take every little bit extra you get and add it in with that 20 dollars every month.
Or maybe you can look for other ways to grow your investment amount like saving your change, or my favorite, using a cash-back debit card and credit card to get cash-back and investing that as well.
This adds an extra 120 dollars or more to my investment account every year. Just for buying things I already used. (Stay tuned for more about this, I plan on talking more about how to get the most out of everyday spending with Cashback in my article next week.)
I think the most frustrating thing to me when I first started was people telling me it was silly to only invest 20 dollars at a time. Don’t let this discourage you the way it did me. Keep going and keep investing more and more, and over time, you will be in a way better place than if you had just held off until you had a big fancy career and a killer salary.
(Spoiler alert: for most people that’s a fairly long ways off, and a lot of money you missed out on in the meantime.)
Another thing to look out for is costs when you’re investing. You have to be sure that however you are investing you’re making sure you are spending as little as possible on fees. John actually wrote an article that goes more into detail about this, you can check it out at 5 concealed costs that destroy your investment returns.
The hardest part of investing isn’t saving up the money to do it, it’s accepting the fact that you already have enough and getting started now. All it takes is $5. Let the momentum push you and before you know it you’ll have hundreds even thousands invested, and you’ll be darn happy you do. 😀
Alright guys, today we are talking about a big one.
How to control your money – you know, that money that always seems to disappear on you. You see, controlling your money is a lot like getting a new dog (for you cat people, I have no analogy for you here).
Sort of like when you get a new pet, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get it to do what you want sometimes.
Forget getting it potty trained and keeping your new friend from chewing up your favorite shoes. Training a new pet is a daunting task, much akin to training your income to get it to do what you want.
But, dogs do get trained, and people do take control of their finances, so how do we potty train ourselves to stop pissing away our money?
Let’s jump right into the 3 main steps to get that money under control.
1) Budget, Budget, oh, and did I mention BUDGET?
You’re probably thinking, “I have heard this a million times”, and you probably have.
But did you ACTUALLY do it??
Execution is so important in this. You have to immediately take the time to sit down and write out your expenses for every month. There are many options out there for budgeting.
(There are even apps like Mint – which is free – that let you sync your accounts and set budgets to keep yourself from overspending.)
If you’re wondering how I budget, I actually prefer using a sticky note app on my computer.
I write down what date my bills are due, and how much they are for the month. This will give you a total number for the cost of living. For example,
Rent Due on the 1st – $1,200.00
Car Note Due on the 9th – $270.00
Internet Due on the 10th – $60.00
Insurance Due on the 18th – $200.00
Gas – $70.00
Total — $1,800.00
Really put your effort into this; take the time to total up EVERYTHING you buy EVERY month, no matter how small the cost. Once you have filled these out, you now have an idea of how much you’re spending (an estimate on some things like gas is better than nothing).
The next step is making sure those necessary things are paid every single month with no worries. Because if these things are important enough for you to purchase every month, then you most likely need them in your life.
Some things will be exceptions and you can go ahead and cut things out that you don’t need and cancel them during this stage (e.g. the gym membership you got that you said you would use, but never use). This eliminates so much financial stress.
I use this total to determine my budget by dividing my total cost of living for the month by 2. (I get paid bi-weekly) The number will change according to how many times you get paid a month.
Ex. $2,800/2 is $1,400.
After finding this number I know EXACTLY how much I need to put away every two weeks (since I get paid bi-weekly) for bills and other necessary monthly expenses. So when I get my paycheck or any money, I put $1,400 directly into my savings account.
With the remaining money, you have to decide how you want to use it. You have to make sure not to dip into that money that you put away.
Leaving this money alone is what will help to eliminate your stress of not having enough for bills.
If you get paid weekly, then you would put $700 dollars in your savings every payday. Then at the end of the month, you transfer everything you set aside to your checking’s account and pay your bills.
Overspending is no longer possible with this method because that money is off limits for anything other than bills. This eliminates a world of stress and is a habit that has changed my life personally.
You have GOT to budget to make sure you have no financial worries or forget any bills. It will take discipline and it will take time. But, IT WILL BE WORTH IT.
2) Decide what to do with the money left over.
So, you have all your money for bills transferred away from your checking account, and you’re now wondering, “What do I do with the rest of this money I have from my check?”
Or you’re thinking, I don’t even have enough money for my bills. In which case, you need to look at what you can possibly cut down on to save money and afford your bills.
About that leftover money…there is only one logical answer here for spending it. Blow it ,right..?
That’s right. Just burn right through it. (Like this fool pictured below, burning a 100 dollar bill… I sure hope that’s monopoly money for his sake.)
Don’t laugh… For most people, that’s about how they treat it.
The leftover money is NOT the expendable cash you get to blow every week. Not if you ever want to be financially stable and free that is. What you do with this money is the difference between financial comfort and a stressful and anxious life. YOU CHOOSE.
First and foremost, this money should go towards a safety net.
I hold enough money in my savings to cover at least a year of my expenses. For some people the number that makes them feel comfortable is different, but I would suggest a minimum of three months’ worth of expenses. (actually, over at Money under 30, they have made an awesome calculator that you can use to find exactly how much you will need. You can find the calculator here.)
To start, transfer around 40-50% of the money that is left from your check to your savings account to build up your savings net.
Secondly, that high-interest debt. If you have any credit card debt or any high-interest loans, these MUST go first. Nothing will sink you into a negative net worth faster than high-interest debt.
Put at LEAST 30-40% of the money leftover towards these high-interest debts. Continue doing this until your high-interest debt is paid off, then you can move on and begin focusing on investing.
I can’t express enough how satisfying these first two steps will be for you. They will give you a feeling of safety knowing you have enough for emergencies, and more importantly getting that debt paid off will give you a feeling of freedom and accomplishment.
If you don’t have any high-interest debt, you can take this money percent and focus on growing that savings account to a comfortable place, (so put 70-90% of your money towards savings) or begin putting it to work in an investment (more on that in the last step).
Lastly, with the remaining 10-30%. Find something you ENJOY spending money on. It could be a hobby, or something even as simple as dates or things for your loved ones. (I like to buy nice things for my girlfriend or spend money on my bike or running stuff)
The last step is just as important as the first two. If you aren’t taking time to spend money on things you enjoy in your life, then why are you even making money? I used to obsess over this and horde my money.
Now I make it a point to spend some every once in a while, and it has helped me to enjoy my life so much more.
3) Invest the remaining money.
So, I’m using the extra money to save and have already paid off high-interest debt…What now?
The best thing I think you can understand about money when it comes to comparing it to a dog is that it has a LOT of potential. But, it all depends on how you train it.
People don’t realize this is how money acts, sitting around acting like this cat. Doing nothing. (Had to put something with a cat in there for my cat people, hate to leave you guys out.)
Most people’s money sits around and is quite lazy actually.
But what you have to do to really take your life up a notch and get to feeling comfortable, is starting to put your money to work for you.
There are so many ways to do this, you would not believe.
There are tons of different markets to get into (depending on how tolerant you are to volatility and how much research you want to do). There are more options now to make and grow money than there have ever been before.
I would recommend taking the time to decide what things you might be comfortable investing in, and what sort of goals you have. For some people that extra money is better spent putting towards a down payment on a rental property or invested in the stock market or maybe a CD or even cryptocurrency, or even building your own business. I personally do a little bit of all of that.
I mean, Why not…? I think passive income and putting your money to work for you is so underrated. There are apps that will literally do every single thing for you for less than what you would pay for a fun-sized Snickers bar at your local grocery store.
Some Example Of Ways To Control Your Money
If you are interested in real estate but don’t have the funds to buy a rental property quite yet, there are crowdfunding sites like Fundrise that can get you started.
(FYI this is a very illiquid investment just like buying actual property, meaning it’s a long-term investment. Do not expect to be able to sell your holdings and receive the amount in less than 3-5 years)
If you’re interested in the stock market, here are some of the apps that I have used in the past and really enjoyed for different reasons:
Robinhood– a free, no-fee to trade exchange that allows you to buy and sell stocks at your own discretion. I still use this app daily and love it even more now than I did several years ago when I found it. They are always adding new user options and growing their platform in a way that is in the best interest of the investor. There are not many differences between Robinhood and any other investment firm except that its simplicity and ease of use is unparalleled. They also have some crypto available to some users in some states.
Acorns– an app that allows you to invest little amounts at a time with deposits and roundups (an action that rounds every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and invests the change). I also love this app for the everyday person who doesn’t really want to learn the market and build a portfolio on their own. Acorns takes your age and adjusts your risk management based off of that and income and builds a customized portfolio of publicly traded ETF’s for you.
Stash Invest– an app that provides many different ETFs and even individual companies that you can purchase up to as little as five dollars’ worth at a time. This is my favorite as I am interested in buying individual stocks and do take time to research and analyze stocks and choose a few for individual investment along with my ETF’s. I recommend Stash for beginners as it strives a lot to educate investors and makes investing interesting.
If you’re interested in cryptocurrency, then there are apps and sites like Coinbase and Binance that are great for getting into the market and learning a little bit about different coins and the future of blockchain (like what purposes they have) as well as how to invest and hold them.
These are just a few examples of places you canplant your money and allow it to grow over time. Each comes with their own level of volatility and risk. I don’t want to go into too much detail about these markets specifically as I will be writing more specific posts about each investment market and how you can get into them.
Even if it’s just getting a high yield savings account or putting your money into a 3-year certificate of deposit (CD), you HAVEto put your money to work and allow it to grow, or else you will always find yourself running out of it before you can replace it with more.
Take Control Of Your Money Today
It’s time to get busy living better.
No more stressing about your money. You need to take the time to get control of your finances and eliminate financial stress from your life. So you can focus on YOU.
Taking control of my income was one of the most revolutionary changes I have ever made in my life, and I want to see you do the same. I want our readers to feel the same comfort I have come to feel in my life financially.
So next time a fool tries to get you to blow your money, you let ‘em know you’re busy living better than that, and they can have that blasphemy all to themselves.
Let me know what budgeting process you use or if you tried any of these and how it’s working out for you! I look forward to hearing from you.
So people are often wondering what it ACTUALLY takes to be a millionaire?
Interestingly enough, most people will make a million dollars or more in their life. That means that in all likelihood you will eventually or have already made a total of a million dollars.
So why aren’t you rich then? Well, more times than not (minus terrible life situations and unforeseen financial disasters) it’s because you simply spend more money than you save.
Usually on food! 😉
LOL, yeah, I was that person once too. You know what I’m talking about.
But seriously, most people will never experience financial stability or freedom because they spend their money versus saving it. They trade future stability and satisfaction for immediate satisfaction.
So, how do you break this habit? How do you give yourself the same mindset that a millionaire has? That “money gives you freedom, and money makes money” mindset. The first step is Budgeting. I emphasize the importance of budgeting so much because it truly is what can change the financial stress in your life.
Why is budgeting so important? Why can’t I just pay my bills and save my money?
Aha. If only it was that simple. Money works a lot like magic. It appears and you’re all excited about it and then suddenly to your confusion, *poof*, it can disappear in a second. Except unlike a real magic trick, the money isn’t brought back. There is no “prestige” (best movie ever encase you haven’t seen it) Once you spend it, it’s gone.
(Granted, the above-pictured magician looks quite intimidating, I’m not sure I would give him my money, especially not expecting to get it back. His face is literally hidden in this hood. I feel like I’m watching Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge me) with my girlfriend and her sister and “A” is out to get me.)
Anyways, A lot of people don’t recognize that money spent comes with an opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the loss of any potential gain from using YOUR money on something that will benefit you in the future instead of what you actually spent it on.
For example, if ten years ago you bought a brand new super cool home theatre system for a thousand dollars, you’d have an outdated, probably poor quality sound system as of today. But, on the other hand, if you bought a thousand dollars’ worth of Amazon ten years ago instead, you’d have $12,398 instead.
Of course, not everyone can buy the Amazon stocks of the world. But it is a good example of how money saved and better spent can make a huge difference for your future.
This is why budgeting is so important, to make sure that the money you actually have goes to a place where it can make a difference for your future instead of just becoming the finale to a magic trick and just disappearing. Now that you’re convinced of how majorly important budgeting is. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
(If you’re wondering why I don’t use apps like Mint or super detailed budgets, I actually have and did use these for a while. I personally did not like it, for some people it works great. But I believe it causes more stress than it saves sometimes. You can’t always know what will happen in your life and you can’t always know what you will spend on every little thing. So over time, I have established my way of budgeting that I prefer much more.)
So, without further ado, Here is my method.
I write down what date my bills are due, and how much they are for the month. This will give you a total number for the cost of living that remains the same.
Ex. Rent Due the 1st – $1,200.00
Car Note Due the 9th– $270.00
Internet Due the 10th– $60.00
Insurance Due the 18th– $200.00
Gas (estimate) – $70.00
Total — $1,800.00
Once you have filled these out, (really put your effort into this, take the time to total up EVERYTHING you KNOW you buy EVERY month, no matter how small the cost.) You now have an idea of how much you’re spending monthly. An estimate on some things like gas is better than nothing.
The next step is making sure those necessary things are paid every single month with no worries. Because if these things are important enough for you to purchase every month than you most likelyneed them in your life, (some things will be exceptions and you can go ahead and cut things out that you don’t need and cancel them during this stage.)
Ex. The gym membership you never use, or the app you pay for monthly but never use. This eliminates so much stress that comes with misuse of money.
The way I use this total to determine my budget is I divide my total cost of living for the month by 2. (I get paid Bi-Weekly, so one paycheck twice a week, your number will be equal to however many checks you normally get per month.) So if you get paid weekly you will divide by four.
Ex. $2,800/2 is $1,400.
After finding this number I know EXACTLY how much I need to put away every two weeks for bills and other necessary monthly expenses. So when I get my paycheck or any money, I put $1,400 directly into my savings account.
This allows you to never wonder if you will have enough money to pay for the things you buy every single month.
You have to make sure not to dip into that money that you put away, (leaving the money alone is what will help to eliminate your stress of not having enough for bills).
If you get paid weekly then you would put $700 dollars in your savings every payday. (this equals $2,800 monthly to cover all your bills)
Then at the end of the month, you transfer everything you saved specifically for bills to your checking’s account and pay them. No more overspending is possible because the money is off limits for anything other than bills.
This eliminates a world of stress and is a habit that has changed my life.
Whatever money is left is the money you have to decide how to use on your own. I use a method I created that divides the leftover money into four sections. Like a delicious sweet potato pie. (this is actually a bad analogy, who the heck cuts pies into slices of four…)
(You’ll learn quickly that I am quite a fan of pie, and many, many, other sweet treats)
I don’t have any high-interest debt anymore as I used this method to pay it off quickly in the past. I also got my savings to a point where I have enough to cover my expenses for a year.
So, I put seventy percent of the money I have left over from my bills into my portfolio.
The remaining thirty percent I have is for fun, hanging out with my girlfriend, spending time with my friends, and treating myself to anything I might want. You will need to adjust your categories accordingly.
I suggest the following… (of course, every situation is different so adjust accordingly.)
50/20/20/10 if you are in a lot of debt.
So you would allocate your leftover money like this:
50% towards High-Interest Debt
20% towards Savings
20% towards Investing
20% towards Fun
30/40/20/10 If you have little to no savings.
30% towards High-Interest Debt
40% towards Savings
20% towards Investing
10% towards Fun
20/20/40/20 If you have decent savings and little debt.
20% towards High-Interest Debt
20% towards Savings
40% towards Investing
20% towards Fun
What are some other options?
You may be one of those people who needs to see where every dollar goes to really see how much you waste and take better control of your money. Some options if you are one of these people and really want a strict budget.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION 1:
Manually write down all your transactions for the month. This is REALLY tough and can really cause a lot of stress. But some people prefer it and it works for them. You just allow yourself a certain amount of money in your budget for spending and you write down each time you spend money and ensure you don’t overspend. Nothing too complicated about it.
Pros: Works if you need to see each individual transaction, Cause you to think about what you are buying and spending money on.
Cons: Time consuming and can cause stress and worry about finances because you are thinking of them more.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION 2:
The envelope method. This is something I have seen work for old school people, and it’s actually something I have used myself in the past. The premise is you take your check and cash it, then take the money and split it into envelopes labeled for what the money is used for. When you run out of money in that envelope, you are no longer allowed to spend any more money on that category.
Pros: This can make you more conscious because cash money is harder to spend then swiping your card because you see the money disappear.
Cons: It can be inconvenient to cash a check and carry around money as most people use direct deposit and hardly ever carry cash nowadays.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION 3:
Using an automated budgeting app like Mint. This can be really helpful, and I actually used this method longer than any other budgeting method until I started employing my own process I talked about above. This lets you set a budget for specific categories and keeps track of each category and your spending in those areas. It can be really helpful as it reminds you of when your bills are due and even offers insight into other things like your credit score too.
Pros: It is easy to set up and create an account and is mostly automated and passive. It can give you a lot of insight into your money habits.
Cons: A lot of things will not categorize properly and can take time to fix, and unfortunately it doesn’t save the correction permanently. It also can disconnect from your accounts and can be frustrating to frequently reconnect your account.
All in all, it doesn’t matter too much what you use to budget, just that you find a way to start and you continue doing it.
A shocking two-thirds of Americans don’t even budget and if they do start a budget they don’t stick with it. That is why I prefer my method over some because it is a lot less strict and over time it becomes like second nature.
However you decide to budget, Just stick with it.
It can be hard over time because it can seem like a time consuming and irritating process. But in the end, the satisfaction from controlling your money through a year worth of budgeting is a fantastic experience.
Not only that, the results that come from it can be life-changing. I know budgeting has been such an important part of getting my life together. Let me know if you guys budget and how you budget, I’d love to hear any other methods. If you don’t, just give it a try. For thirty days at least. See how it feels and see if it makes your life less stressful. I’d love to hear about your experience.