There is no better time for new investors to get started investing. Unlike in our parents days, there are lots of ways to get started with very little capital. and I want to share these with you, so you can get started right away. Many of these are easy to implement and many have practically zero dollar minimums.
1. Now obviously, if you work for a company, and they have a 401K program, then a payroll deduction and investing it into a set of mutual funds is the easiest way to get started. In fact many companies are implementing what is called, negative enrollment which means they start you out right away unless you specifically say no. And if your company match of any kind, then its a no brainer. At the very least make sure you invest enough to get the match. The one mistake I made when I was younger was not investing the maximum from day one.
2. If you are lucky enough to work for a public company that has an Employee Stock Purchase Plan, then this is the second way to get started. I worked for three companies that not only had an ESPP but provided a 15% discount on the shares purchased. If your company has the discount, then you should be maxing that out. Most purchase every six months and if you are like me, and had a 15% discount, then you are getting close to a 70% annualized return with very little risk. And that is assuming you sell the next day. Hold it even longer and not only can you get a higher return but also the lower capital gains tax.
3. A discount broker. Fidelity announced in 2018 they are setting up no fee, no minimum brokerage accounts. And then of course Charles Schwab matched them with minimum $1 investment. Isn’t competition grand? So even if all you have is $100, then get started with one of their index funds, like a Total Stock Market or similar. Then add to it on a monthly basis through direct deposit, or as you get little windfalls, like birthday money, bonuses and I always like to use rebates from, for example, my dogs heartworm medicine. Even $50 a month ads up to $600 a year and that’s before returns. I have accounts at both so I can recommend both to you.
4. Direct Purchase Programs. Many companies have direct purchase and dividend reinvestment programs that allow you to purchase shares directly from the transfer agent. Let me repeat, you don’t have to go through a broker, just directly the transfer agent. This is how I bought several stocks including Walmart or Exxon Mobile for as little as $250. Obviously, since they are single stocks, they are more risky but another way to get started easy, especially if you believe in a company.
Here are two transfer agents that allow for direct investing and dividend reinvestment.
Now as you can imagine, this listing is not exhaustive and there are tons of other investing options for you to choose from. But these are the ones I started with over time to build up my investing chops. In fact, I am trying to consolidate my accounts as I have to many but its nice to know you don’t need thousands of dollars to get started. What are some of your favorite ways to get started?