5 smart ways to start investing with little money today

© Youngoldman Creative/Getty Images Woman using tablet for investing money

Investing isn’t just for stock market pros — it’s an all-encompassing term for how to be smart about money.

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The truth is: you don’t need an influx of cash to start building long-term wealth. But you do need to learn strong money management skills to make your investments last a lifetime.

Here’s how to start investing, whether you’ve got a few pennies or a few hundred dollars.

1. Open a high-yield savings account

The average American forgoes nearly $2,000 in interest every year by keeping their money in an average-yielding savings account or money market account instead of a high-yield savings account.

In fact, a 2017 survey conducted by Bankrate and MONEY found that more than a quarter of respondents held on to their old bank accounts for decades. Today, however, many brick-and-mortar and online banks offer APYs as high as 2.47 percent with a minimum balance as low as $1.

Opening a high-yield savings account is an easy way to jumpstart your savings and earn more interest on your money.

2. Invest your spare change

There are plenty of apps currently on the market that can help you save money.

Acorns, for instance, rounds all your credit or debit card purchases up and invests the spare change in a basic investment portfolio. Your account can cost as little as $1 (or free for college students).

Digit, on the other hand, uses an algorithm to monitor your bank account to make informed withdrawals based on how much money you can spare from your budget. A subscription costs $2.99 per month and users who stick with the app for three or more consecutive months are rewarded with a 1 percent annualized savings bonus.

If you don’t want to add another account into your arsenal, ask your bank if they have any similar carryover features available.

3. Robo-advisers

A robo-adviser allows you to invest in the stock market through exchange-traded funds, or ETFs. Fees vary by lender, so you’ll want to find one with low to no fees. Minimum opening deposits also vary, but many don’t have requirements for this. Popular advisers such as Wealthfront and Betterment may be good places to start for beginners.

Once you choose your adviser, you’ll sign up and complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire helps determine your risk tolerance with investments. The more risky you are, the more money you could be set to lose, but also gain. Keep that in mind as you build your profile.

Robo-advisers bridge the gap to investing that was otherwise made for those with a significant chunk of change. Since many robo-advisers don’t have minimum opening deposits, you can get started with a few dollars right away.

4. Employer plans

Employer-sponsored 401(k) plans allow you to contribute part of your paycheck into a retirement account. Some employers have matching contributions. For example, if you contribute 3 percent of your paycheck, your employer may match up to 3 percent. This means you’ll get double your contributions every time money goes into your account.

Because the money is deducted from your account before you get paid, you may not notice a difference in your paycheck. Even if your employer doesn’t have a company match, having an account that auto-deducts from your paycheck takes the pressure off of self-contributing when you feel the time is right. This way, it’s taken care of for you.

5. Commission-free ETFs

Commission-free ETFs are exchange-traded funds that don’t charge trading costs. ETFs are a combination of stocks, bonds and other assets. When you invest in ETFs, you pool your money together with other investors and share ownership.

Sometimes, investing in ETFs can trigger a commission fee for every transaction, which is why commission-free ETFs are a less-expensive investment.

Are you ready to start investing in your future?

Investing in yourself may be confusing if you don’t know where to start. Everyone’s circumstances are different, which means what’s right for you may not be right for someone else. Take the time to evaluate your options and choose what works best for you.

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