6 Ways to Find Investment Money When You Don’t Think You Have Any
Too many people believe you must have thousands of dollars to start investing. That’s not the case at all.
Sure, it’s easier to invest when you have a lot of spare cash. But it’s crucial to start investing as early as you can, even if your finances are tight. If you’re middle class or struggling financially, putting money aside to gain value over time is the only way to ensure a comfortable retirement.
The demands of everyday life might leave you with little cash left after you’ve gotten your paycheck and paid all of your bills. But a 2019 Gallup poll found that 54% of American adults own stock of one kind or another. And not all of these people are wealthy. Isn’t it time you joined them?
Here are six ways to make that possible this year.
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Six Ways to Find Investment Money
1. Kill Those Subscriptions
Print copies of every bank and credit card statement from the past two to three months. Look through them carefully for recurring payments. You will find they fall into five categories…
- Regular payments you can’t do much about (such as your utilities, car insurance bill, and rent or mortgage)
- Regular payments you might be able to cut back on (such as your premium cable or cellphone bill)
- Subscriptions you use and enjoy frequently (such as Netflix)
- Subscriptions you use occasionally but wouldn’t miss much (such as a wine delivery service)
- Subscriptions you forgot about entirely and haven’t used in months (such as a gym membership).
Although you have to keep everything in No. 1, you should eliminate No. 5 right now, and you can probably eliminate No. 4 too. As for Nos. 2 and 3, take a close look and see if there’s any way you can cut these costs. You could end up saving $100 a month with little impact on your quality of life. That would give you more than $1,000 a year to invest.
2. Break a Bad Habit
Everybody has an addiction. Yours might be fancy coffee or collecting something you never use that fills up storage space. Perhaps you love to purchase items impulsively online, or maybe you have a smoking habit.
Take an hour and track how much your bad habit has cost you over the past six months. For example, an Amerisleep study this year shows the average adult spends more than $2,000 a year on coffee alone. A pack-a-day smoker spends $2,292 annually on their habit.
The goal here isn’t to eliminate a passion that truly makes you happy. It’s to cut an expensive vice that drains money without improving your life.
Don’t pretend you don’t have one. We all do. What’s yours, and how would your finances improve if you invested that money rather than making somebody else wealthy?
3. Kill Your Consumer Debt
Interest payments on consumer debt are essentially money you’re throwing away. Taking on consumer debt does nothing to improve your life, and for many families, it drastically cuts into available discretionary income.
The average American spends just under $100 a month on credit card interest. Since the average American’s take-home pay is slightly less than $3,300 per month, that means the average American spends 3% of their income simply paying down the interest on credit cards. And that doesn’t even include car loans and other forms of consumer debt.
Get aggressive about paying down those loans and credit cards until you’re paying zero interest, and you’ll gain extra money each month in two ways.
First, you’ll have “free money” because you’re no longer paying interest. That interest alone amounts to more than $1,000 a year for the average family. Second, you’ll have the extra money you had been spending to pay down your principal. You could easily free up a few hundred or more dollars each month to invest.
4. Get Smart About Retirement Breaks
Putting money into a retirement account can drastically slash your tax bill, freeing up money for investing.
During tax season, if you owe money to the federal government, you can cut your taxable income by potentially thousands of dollars by investing in a retirement plan, such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401(k).
Every dollar you put into one of these accounts (up to a set maximum) is deducted from your income for tax purposes. That reduces your income to a lower marginal bracket. And the lower your taxable income, the less you have to pay in taxes.
You can take this money you would have paid to the government and instead put it toward your investments. Combine this with some of the other methods on this list for one year, and your money can begin to snowball in a truly dramatic fashion.
Note: Tax planning can be challenging, so you should always contact your accountant to develop a strategy that will work best for you.
5. Clean Your House
This may seem like an odd tip, but cleaning your house can actually help you find money to invest. (Plus, it’s just nice to have a spotless home.)
Having a more organized home can save you money in surprising ways. For example…
- You’ll no longer have to buy replacements for things you still have but can’t find.
- You’ll have less food waste from items that spoil in the fridge or pantry.
- You’ll make room for items you may be paying to keep in a storage unit.
- You’ll know what tools you have when you need repairs and maintenance..
As if that weren’t enough, another reason to clean your house is that it could be a gold mine. Old exercise equipment, used books, collections you no longer need, sports items and more are lying in corners of your home, just waiting to be sold on eBay or Craigslist. What doesn’t sell you can donate for a nice tax break next spring.
6. Find a Side Hustle
So far, we’ve only talked about ways to save money so you can invest, but there’s another side to this equation: making more money.
The best way to do that is to get a raise at work, which allows you to make more money for the same amount of effort. If you can’t do that, you can create part-time income from a wide variety of places.
Some reliably lucrative options include driving for Uber, Lyft or a food delivery service like Postmates; tutoring or giving lessons in one of your hobbies; online freelance writing; selling your art or crafts on Etsy; and housesitting, babysitting or pet sitting.
Get creative. Find the things you do best with your time, and then find the people who need those things. Even just five to 10 hours per week can generate enough investment income to get ahead.
Don’t worry if your first investment contributions are small. It’s better to make a small investment than no investment at all. Keep in mind that investing is a long-term game. Even $10 a week over five years works out to several thousand dollars invested and earning dividends for you. It’s just a matter of deciding to move forward, then acting on that decision.
About Ben Broadwater
Ben Broadwater is the Director of Investment U. He has more than 15 years of content creation experience. He has worked and written for numerous companies in the financial publishing space, including Charles Street Research, The Oxford Club and now Investment U. When Ben isn’t busy running Investment U, you can usually find him with a pair of drumsticks or a guitar in his hand.