You’ve paid your bills and still have a few dollars to save. Now what?
You don’t need a lot of money to start saving and investing. But, before you do, it’s best to get your financial house in order to ensure that the small steps you take have maximum impact. Here are a few ways you can diversify your assets and put your money to work for you with as little as $3,000.
Invest $1,000 in an exchange-traded or index fund.
The stock market can be daunting, but you don’t need a lot of money or skill to start investing. One of the easiest ways to invest in the market, besides employer-sponsored retirement plans, is through exchange-traded and index funds. These funds are an excellent way to dip your toe in the market with a relatively small amount of money.
Exchange-traded funds, commonly known as ETFs, are a collection of assets that are traded like securities. An index fund is a group of stocks that track benchmark indices such as the S&P 500 or Nasdaq 100.
The biggest difference between the two is that index funds can only be traded at a set price at the end of the trading day, while ETFs can be bought and sold during the day. Both offer exposure to the market and low fees.
Deposit $1,000 in a high-yield savings account.
Consider depositing $1,000 in a high-yield savings account that offers far more interest on your money than a standard savings account. Whereas the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation pegged the national savings account rate at just 0.33% on Jan. 17, 2023, some high-yield savings accounts pay as much as 5%.
These accounts are an ideal place to stash and grow an emergency fund. You can earn money without monthly fees or any additional costs. But keep in mind that interest rates on high-yield savings accounts can fluctuate.
Setting aside money that can be easily accessed could also help you avoid using high-interest credit cards to manage unforeseen expenses. After you start an account, you should strive to save at least three to six months’ worth of your expenses.
Deposit $1,000 in an Individual Retirement Account
Even if you have an employer-sponsored 401(k), investing in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a good way to grow and maximize your retirement savings. An IRA gives you the ability to save more money and might offer more investment choices than your 401(k).
With a traditional IRA, earnings are tax-deferred until withdrawal, and contributions may be tax-deductible depending on your income, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Roth IRAs don’t offer an upfront tax deduction, but they do provide tax-free growth and withdrawals at age 59½ as long as you’ve had the account for five years. There are income limits on Roth IRAs. The IRS says individuals must earn less than $153,000 to open an account, while married couples must have an adjusted gross income of less than $228,000 for the 2023 tax year.
All of these options can help set you and your family on a path to financial security, but you must continue to contribute or invest, even if it is just a few dollars a month.
"If we’re not helping all employees of color earn more, invest more and develop genuine autonomy, we’re not uplifting disenfranchised communities. The financial health of marginalized workers is critical to achieving equity and creating a productive and engaged workforce."
Founder of OfColor