Finding the “best” way to invest is a personal journey; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But one thing that’s essential in understanding your best route is knowing how much money you have to work with. The smartest investment for $1,000 isn’t necessarily going to be the same as $10 or $100.
So, here’s a closer look at how to invest $10, $100 or $1,000. Because even if you’ve only managed to scrape together a little extra doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for ways to grow it into more.
Best Investments for $10
There are surprising ways you can get a return on your money, and the benefits of saving and investing are there even when you don’t have a lot of money to work with. So don’t let a lack of funds scare you off; you can find decent investments at any price if you’re willing to do some research. Instead of going out to lunch this week, invest that $10.
Sometimes the best investment is an investment in yourself. With the proliferation of online courses these days, you can learn everything from how to operate a circular saw to how to write computer programs. An online course — many of which are $10 or less — can help you broaden your basic knowledge, learn employable skills or enjoy life-enhancing hobbies, from playing the guitar to arts and crafts. You can even take courses from Ivy League schools for free.
So, when $10 can mean enough to pay for something like the Udemy class “An Entire MBA in 1 Course,” that Hamilton in your pocket just might be enough to launch a new career.
S&P 500 Index Fund
A common complaint among investors is that they can’t participate in the stock market without a sizable amount of money, as fees would eat up most of the investment. The truth is that not only can small investors participate in the market, but they can also effectively track the returns of the overall market at an exceedingly low cost. There are many types of Index Fund’s that offer competitive services. The Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund, for example, is no-load and charges extremely low fees of just 0.02% annually. The minimum investment for this fund is $1, so even with $10, you can start your investment program.
High-Yield Savings Account
If you want to earn interest on your $10 but want to keep it safe and liquid, a high-yield savings account might be a good option. Many online banks offer rates of return higher than 2% while charging no account opening fees and carrying FDIC insurance. You can also pull your money out at any time, and there are no maintenance fees. Rates and features are subject to change at any time, so look at recent surveys to find the best savings account for your needs.
Best Investments for $100
With $100, you can invest in the markets or your future. Whether you’re buying a share or two of stock or just finding ways to build your professional skills, a Benjamin can do a lot when you invest it wisely. So consider skipping that dinner out for two this Friday night and put your money to work instead.
A robo-advisor is a computerized investment platform that allocates your money over an assortment of different mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. The specific portfolio you are assigned is in line with the investment objectives and risk tolerance that you indicate. There are lots of options for a robo-advisor, from Betterment — the largest of the independent firms with more than $15 billion under management — to well-known firms such as Vanguard, Charles Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. Betterment and Acorns are two of the larger firms that have no minimum investment, so you can easily get started with just $100.
High-Yield Savings Account
Yes, this is the second time the high-yield savings account is getting mentioned, but there’s a reason for that: Investments with absolutely no risk, minimal limits on liquidity and consistent yields of 2% or better don’t grow on trees. As such, whether it’s $10, $100 or $100,000, a savings account is rarely the wrong choice. And that’s especially true for someone just getting the ball rolling on their nest egg.
Regardless of the field you’re in, you can always stand to make a better impression, get the word out about yourself, or market yourself for bigger opportunities. If you’re self-employed, you can buy ads or other marketing materials to get more customers or clients. If you’re an employee, you can take your boss to lunch and ask about future opportunities with your company. These types of expenses are investments in yourself that can pay large dividends down the road.
While there are plenty of fine companies with stocks trading for $10 or less, that’s also a level at which it can be a little dicey. However, there’s an abundance of solid options for stocks with share prices below $100 — including Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobile and Walmart — and picking the right company could mean turning that $100 into $1,000 or more over the next few years. Granted, it could also mean losing some or all of your $100, but sticking to blue-chip stocks and holding them for years or even decades is usually a sound strategy that will produce solid results.
The banking industry has been turning a profit by lending money for, well, almost as long as there’s been money. The trend toward so-called “peer-to-peer lending” means that you can play the role traditionally held by banks. The sites — like Upstart, Funding Circle and Prosper Marketplace — allow both lenders and borrowers to seek out options. And because you can band together with other investors to fill out a loan, you can often get in for just $100.
Best Investments for $1,000
One thousand dollars is a serious chunk of change — enough for a luxurious and relaxing weekend away, or enough to really see your money grow if you invest it properly. You have a lot more options available to you than you would with $10 or $100, meaning there’s more to sort through before you can determine which is the best for you and your finances.
When a company reaches a plateau in its maturity and market share, investing in growing the business starts to produce more and more limited returns. In that case, many will start paying out profits directly to shareholders in the form of regular cash payments known as dividends. The end result is a stock that has a built-in feature to provide scheduled, steady returns in the same way a bond or savings account might.
Which stock you choose is, of course, incredibly important. If the price of shares crashes, your dividend isn’t going to make up for it. But, with plenty of options for huge companies with a history of raising their dividend rates over the years, you can also find a stock with good upside and a regular return of 2% to 4% (or more, in some cases).
Not many people are eager to organize their finances when they are living, let alone prepare for when they die. But a good use of $1,000 is to hire an estate attorney and get your financial house in order. Most Americans, especially those with any property or investments, need a number of legal documents, ranging from trusts and wills to healthcare proxies. Financial and estate planning might not be exciting — and it could even be a bit frightening — but hiring an attorney to get your affairs in order will help reduce the stress and uncertainty over what happens to your assets in case you are incapacitated or pass on.
Want to earn a guaranteed return on your money? Pay down your debt. If you’re paying interest on outstanding debt, paying it off gives you an immediate return equal to the amount of interest you would have paid. The average interest rate charged on credit card accounts is about 15%, and some cards charge even more. With the long-term average stock market return hovering around 9% per year, saving 15% or more per year on average is a winning option.
The right home renovation is a two-pronged investment: It both serves a functional need in a house and it could actually improve the home’s value. While there are limitless options for improving a home, here are five options you can choose that can cost $1,000 or less: upgrade the lighting, replace the front door, improve the kitchen cabinets, enhance the bathroom fixtures or get a deep clean.
Some of these options can add value to your home, while others may enhance the quality of your life, which is always a worthwhile investment.
A recent GOBankingRates study found that 58% of respondents had savings of less than $1,000. Financial services firms like Fidelity suggest that you should save at least three to six months of living expenses for a rainy day. When you have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund, you won’t have to cut corners to meet unexpected expenses such as a surprise car repair or a doctor’s bill or take on high-cost debt to pay for every surprise. This can lower your financial stress level, which is another reason an emergency fund is a good investment.
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Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.