I am not quite sure how many times I have heard it said: “A penny saved is really truly a penny earned.” Old Ben Franklin was so right back then when he said it and the truth is it hasn’t changed in all those years. What that actually means is this: If you sit around and moan and groan that you just don’t have enough, earn enough, save enough or just can’t do what you want to do to try to build your wealth, there is a way you can at least start.
Taking small steps will get you to your goal and even better, those small steps can lead you to being an investor where you can actually make your current income earn a lifetime additional stream of it! So follow my advice today and stop saying “I don’t have enough money to invest!”
Why Saving Is Actually the Same as Earning Extra Money
How do you get your money right now? If you are like most people, you have a job and get a paycheck every week or two. And then after taxes and insurance and all of those deductions for Social Security, you take home what’s left. I know when you look at that check, no matter how much is left, you think to yourself, that’s it? I worked and that’s what I get? It’s just not enough and I need more. That story is just about everyone’s these days.
But what about the idea that if you spend less from that check every week, then you have more left over. It’s not very complicated as an idea, but doing it is a challenge. That challenge has to involve a plan of some sort and a few of those small steps I mentioned before, but it can be done. Where do you start to save and then use that money to invest and build real wealth? That’s the big question.
Trimming Your Budget
To begin with, you need a budget. I mean an actual list of what you must spend every month and how you plan to do it with your current income. Don’t be afraid to look and plan how to trim your expenses. It can be done and nothing in trimming is set in stone forever.
Amazing But Totally True!
As I have been writing for years, a budget is really important to make, follow, and review all the time. I am in my 70s and I still spend time every week looking at my spending and trying to think of new ways to save.
For me, it’s no longer the only way I have to get more money in my accounts. I have several alternate streams of income that help with that task. But that wasn’t always the case. It’s still amazing that I can find new ways to save. You can do it, too. Review, review, and review again.
The bottom line is that if you can trim just 5% off your spending or find ways to save 5% every week when spending, if you earn $1,000 a week (about the average full-time salary today in the U.S.), you can find at least $50 a week that you didn’t have in your pocket before. Those 50 bucks a week or $200 a month can get you into the stock market and that small step can help yield big results to build your wealth!
But What If There’s Nothing Left to Trim?
Now I’m a firm believer that just about anyone can trim their budget (even when we don’t think so), but the reality is that some of us simply don’t have the income to make it possible. If you are already living your bare-bones budget, there are two things you may be able to do. The first is to take advantage of assistance programs to help your finances. These include low-income utility programs, food banks, SNAP (food stamps), low-income housing, etc. The second is to increase your income by taking on a side hustle or second job, or by increasing your value in your job to get a raise (or a different job).
These aren’t easy options, but with effort and time, hopefully you are able to improve your financial situation.
Investing with the Right Strategy
Let’s say you’ve managed to save up just a few hundred bucks in your hand. Investing is actually now on the table. It’s a huge misconception that to start any kind of investment portfolio, you need a lot of money. When I was young, I actually though that people who invested in the stock market were only the wealthy. That was more so then than now.
Today, investors are from every part of society and there is a good reason for that. The idea of building a long-term stream of income from something other than a job is a reality that works. The stock market, even with its bumpy ups and downs, over the long haul has produced big wealth here for millions. That’s why you need to get started.
The best advice I can give you is that the sooner you start investing with what little you have, the greater your chances of eventually having a lot of money to work with. But even when you start small and money is limited, there are some things you can do to maximize your investment strategy.
Self-Directed Investing Is Actually Free
The good news is that you don’t need to pay someone for advice on your stock moves when you do it. I go through my bank and they let me move money in and out of a self-directed account every day if I so choose. Just FYI, I don’t do that every day because I understand investments are better in for the long haul. No one can predict day to day what will happen to any one stock. If that were true, we’d all be wealthy.
What to Buy?
I am firm believer in making investing “personal”. What I mean is that you should invest in the stocks of companies whose products you love and services you use and enjoy. If you like them, that means others like them, too. That’s a good thing.
Some of these companies and products have been around forever and there’s a good reason for that. So if you love Coke and buy it all the time, maybe that’s a stock that you want to buy!
Maybe there are a few stocks you’ve been eyeing, but only one or two are in your budget. That’s OK. You don’t have to buy every stock you’re interested in today. Narrow down your choices and even check the net for information about the companies so that you can figure out which of those to buy first.
There are three questions you want to ask yourself about any stock:
- What is the growth potential?
- Is the company innovative?
- Is the stock price in your budget and still has value to grow?
If buying any single stock scares you as a beginner, buying mutual funds or index funds may make you more comfortable in your investing.
When you buy index funds, you’re actually buying a bucket of stocks instead of investing in a single company. When you buy shares of an S&P 500 index fund, for example, you’re effectively putting money into the 500 largest publicly traded companies on the market. That buy allows you to build a diverse portfolio without doing a ton of research.
There may be fees involved here, but because they’re passively managed, you won’t be hit with any exorbitant fees when you buy them. Some funds have very low fees and some have higher fees which are deducted from your stock asset so you don’t actually get a bill to pay for their work. But they all have fees. Even so, mutual funds may be your best first step.
You can actually buy a piece or a fractional share of a stock these days, rather than an entire share. That’s great when you want to invest in a company, but a single share of its stock is way too expensive for you. When Alphabet (Google’s parent company) sells for over $2,000 a share and you are a big fan of it, why not just buy a small part of it you can afford right now?
Like index funds, fractional shares can help you build a diverse portfolio without a huge outlay. And while not every brokerage allows investors to buy fractional shares, the option is becoming increasingly popular. You can check out investment platforms like: Interactive Brokers, Robinhood, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and SoFi Investing, just to name a few.
Even when you don’t have enough money to invest “a lot”, don’t sweat it. Instead, focus on these ways you can make that money work for you and grow.
Ben Franklin said a lot of wise things in his day, but the one about the penny saved is my favorite. Saving your pennies eventually grows into dollars and that’s important.
Don’t think you can’t be a part of investing and growing wealth because you don’t have enough money to invest. There are people learning that they can every day.
There are just a few ways to actually get more money in your pocket—earn more, spend less, and save more are the three that come to mind for me. Add invest more to that list and do it by following the three ways I mentioned to get there. You can do it.
Are you an investor or are you on the sidelines because you don’t have enough money to invest? Can you find a way to get that money if you tighten your belt? What’s your next move to build wealth?