- When I started investing, I wasn't earning much. I thought I had to have big chunks of money to invest, but that thinking only made me want to turn my back on investing.
- After learning about automatic direct deposits, though, my philosophy changed. I learned that not only was it possible to invest, but it was actually completely thoughtless.
- I set up direct deposits for $20 a week, and forgot about it. In a year, I'd invested $1,040 without even missing the money.
- The experience proved to me that not only can you invest with only a little bit of money, but it's the best way to start and make investing manageable.
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My first foray into investing coincided with a time in my life where I wasn't earning much.
My dad felt strongly that I should know the basics of investing once I got my first real job out of college, especially since my first job didn't offer me a 401(k) plan. He taught me how to use a brokerage account at Fidelity, and helped me make my first few transfers and trades with a few hundred dollars I had saved from working during school and college graduation gifts. But, after that, I stopped doing it I felt that I couldn't use my account unless I had big chunks of money to put into it.
After all, I'd learned how to invest with a lot of money at once. At the time, I didn't know how to invest with a small amount of money, or even if I could. Since a sizeable amount of money was something I didn't have, it was easy to tell myself that investing was simply out of reach. But, I was wrong.
Knowing that I needed to keep investing led me to set up an account with Robinhood, since I found my Fidelity account difficult to manage. After setting up an automatic deposit of $20 per week from my checking account into my investment account , I realized that it wasn't only possible for me to invest with the little money I had, but I should have been doing it all along.
Making small, automatic transfers made investing feel manageable
It may not sound like much, but that $20 a week proved to me that I could afford to invest.
When I wasn't earning much, saving $1,000 meant trying to leave money in my checking account until I could meet my goal. But, inevitably, I'd spend it before the money ever had the chance to hit my brokerage account. When I started with the direct deposits, pulling $20 a week from my account made it painless to actually invest.
And, even though it was a small amount, I saw it add up quickly. In a year, I'd invested $1,040, and it had grown a bit, too.
This system simply worked better for me psychologically. Asking me to save $1,040 a year? At that time, no way. I would have felt like that was impossible. But, asking me to put away $20 a week? That felt attainable. It broke investing down from this giant task to a small, weekly thing that I didn't even have to do.
At first, I didn't realize that it was possible to invest with small amounts. Now, I swear by it.
Even though I've since started earning more, and have challenged myself to save and invest more, I still use this method to make it seem like a smaller task. I've increased my investing to $30 a week, and hope to continue to grow it. I've since switched from Robinhood to a robo-adviser to use an automatic investing service that makes this strategy even easier, since I won't have to pick where every dollar goes.
This strategy made investing possible at a time in my life where I felt like I could never get ahead financially. For anyone who wants to get a start in investing but doesn't have much money to invest, I say starting small is the way to go.
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