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How to Start Investing With Little Money: Recommended Apps & Tips

Some people will go their whole lives without investing any money. Why? The single biggest reason may be that they simply don’t feel they have enough cash to invest.

There’s a misconception that you need thousands of dollars to begin investing, but nothing could be farther from the truth… especially today. Technology and steady evolution in the investment industry have removed many of the barriers to entry. You can even get started with $10 or less.

First off, at the most basic level, you can open a retirement account — either an employer-sponsored plan or a self-directed IRA account — and begin payroll deducting very small amounts out of your paycheck and into your retirement account.

However, that may not be an option for you. If that’s the case, don’t despair. There are a number of investment apps that will enable you to begin investing with $10 or less.

If you’ve been avoiding investing because of a lack of money, avoid no longer. You can now begin investing with as little as the equivalent of just one or two lattes per week.

Here are some of the best investment apps that you can start with $10 or less. They’re not gimmicks, either — they’re legitimate investment apps currently used by millions of investors.

#1. Acorns

Rating:

8.5/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $0
  • Fees: $1/month under $1 million; 0.25%/year over $1 million; FREE for under 24 and in college; IRAs are an additional $1/month; $3/month for Spend and Later
  • Website Access: Yes

Acorns is a micro-savings and micro-investing app. It’s probably the best-known player in the field. The company claims nearly four million people are using the app to save and invest.

The app works by “investing your spare change” through an automatic process referred to as “round-ups.” You connect the Acorns app to your checking account, and when you make purchases using your debit card, the app rounds the charge up to the next dollar.

For example, if you make a purchase for $5.32, Acorns withdraws $6 from your checking account, pays $5.32 to the vendor, then reserves 68 cents for savings. Once your savings reach $5, the money is transferred over to the Acorns investment app.

In that way, not only does Acorns help you invest, but it also gives you the ability to save up the money you’ll need to begin investing.

On the investing side, Acorns also functions as a robo advisor. That’s an automated investment platform that both creates and manages a portfolio for you going forward. Your only responsibility is to fund your account, which is happening automatically through the round-ups process.

  • Acorns offers Acorns Core as a taxable investment account and Acorns Later as an IRA. You can choose which account to fund or even split your funding between the two. Either portfolio is comprised of a mix of stocks and bonds that are held in low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs) invested in several different asset classes.
  • There’s no account minimum, and you can begin investing when your savings balance reaches just $5. The fee for Acorns Core is $1 per month, regardless of the balance in your account.
  • The Acorns app is available for both Android devices and iOS devices.

#2 Clink


Clink App Review

Rating:

6.5/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $0
  • Fees: Free
  • Website Access: No

Similar to Acorns, Clink is both a micro-savings and a micro-investing app. However, the methodology is a bit different. Whereas Acorns makes small savings and investment contributions through round-ups on all your spending activity, Clink concentrates on select spending activities.

For example, you can schedule a percent of your spending to go to the app when you shop or eat out using your credit card. The funds will then be transferred to your investment account. Alternatively, you can schedule automatic transfers to your investment account, with funds moved from your checking account to your Clink account.

  • There’s no minimum investment requirement, so you can certainly get started with less than $10 — or even no money at all — and fund the account through spending or transfers. But a major advantage is that you can use the app free of any fees. Of course, this will improve your investment performance over the long term.
  • On the investment side, your funds are invested in a portfolio of ETFs invested in stocks and bonds. You can choose the level of risk you want to take with your investments, from conservative to aggressive. One disadvantage with Clink is that it offers only taxable investment accounts, no retirement account options.
  • The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

#3 Robinhood


Robinhood Review

Rating:

7.5/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $0
  • Stock Trades: Free
  • Options Trades: Free

Robinhood isn’t a micro-savings app that will help you save money. Instead, it’s a discount stock broker that enables you to open an account with no minimum initial investment. You can then trade stocks, ETFs and options without having to pay any trading commissions. You can even trade cryptocurrencies — a feature that’s nearly unique to Robinhood.

  • The app is available for Android and iOS devices. The company claims the app has more than 5 million users who have performed more than $150 billion in transactions.
  • Since it isn’t a micro-savings app, you’ll need to set up your contributions to the platform. Those contributions will need to come from scheduled deposits, which you can set up as automatic transfers on a weekly, biweekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Naturally, you’ll need money in your account to begin investing. You’ll probably need to begin investing with either low-priced stocks or ETFs, since Robinhood doesn’t permit trading fractional shares.
  • Although Robinhood has no minimum initial investment requirement and charges no fees, it does require you to have some knowledge of investing, since you’ll need to select the stocks and funds you want to invest in. It does not offer a robo-advisor service that would design your portfolio and manage it for you. You’ll need to do both yourself.

Like Clink, Robinhood offers only taxable investment accounts, not retirement accounts. But it’s still an excellent choice if you want to trade stocks and ETFs free of charge.

#4 Stash Invest


Stash Invest Review

Rating:

8.5/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $5
  • Fees: Beginner Plan: $1/month; Growth Plan: $3/month; Stash+ Plan: $9/month
  • Website Access: Yes

Stash Invest is also a micro-savings and micro-investing app. You need a minimum of just $5 to open an account and begin investing. But it differs from other apps on this list in that while it provides you with investment advice — including portfolio recommendations — it doesn’t actually manage your investments for you. You invest through the app, using its suggestions, and manage your own portfolio.

  1. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices and includes both taxable investment accounts and traditional and Roth IRAs. You can fund your account by making scheduled deposits from a linked bank account into your Stash Account.
  2. One of the major advantages with Stash is that the portfolio it designs is invested in not just ETFs, but also individual stocks. And since Stash allows trading fractional shares, you can purchase small slivers of high-priced stocks to include in your portfolio.
  3. Stash Invest charges a fee of $1 per month to provide investment advice. However, once your account balance reaches $5,000 or more, there’s an annual management fee of 0.25% (replacing the $1 per month charge). This is comparable to the lower end of the fee range for most robo advisors.

Among all the apps on this list, Stash Invest may be the best for you if you want not only to begin investing with a very small amount of money, but also to be more actively involved in the process. Since Stash makes investment recommendations that you must implement in your portfolio, it gives you an opportunity to learn the mechanics of investing. That can set you up for a lifetime of do-it-yourself, self-directed investing. That makes Stash Invest as much an investment tool as an investment app.

#5 Stockpile


Stockpile Review

Rating:

6/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $0
  • Stock Trades: $.99/trade
  • Options Trades: N/A

Stockpile is actually an online, very low-cost stockbroker that allows you to open an account with a minimum deposit of $0. It then enables you to make trades for just 99 cents per trade. That’s just about the lowest trading fee available with any broker — at least those that charge trading fees at all. However, you’re limited to trading just stocks and ETFs. Also, Stockpile permits taxable investment accounts only, not retirement plans.

  • Stockpile is best known as a platform where you can purchase gift cards toward the purchase of stocks. Since it’s now close to impossible to buy paper stock certificates, Stockpile came out with the gift card idea to enable people to give the gift of stock, particularly to children.
  • The app is available for Android and iOS devices, and the service even comes with broker-assisted trades.
  • There won’t be a problem purchasing even high-priced stocks, since Stockpile allows the purchase of fractional shares. You can even use fractional shares to create a portfolio of several well-known companies with a relatively small amount of money.

It’s important to point out that Stockpile doesn’t offer a managed investment service. When you invest through the company, you’ll be purchasing individual stocks and ETFs, so you’ll have to have some knowledge of investing and creating and managing your own portfolio. This is a true self-directed investment app.

Robo Advisors With No Minimum Initial Investment Requirement

Apart from investing apps, there are also full-blown robo advisors that are also available through smartphone apps.

#1 Betterment

Rating:

9/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $0
  • Fees: Digital – 0.25%/year; Premium – 0.40%/year
  • 401(k) Assistance: Yes

Betterment

is the largest — and perhaps the best-known — independent robo advisor. It determines your risk tolerance, investment goals and time horizon, then designs and manages a portfolio for you. All you need to do is fund your account.

No minimum investment is required, so you can begin investing with just a few dollars. Betterment charges an annual fee of 0.25% of your account balance. It offers taxable accounts, as well as retirement accounts. On taxable accounts, it even offers tax loss harvesting to minimize the tax liability generated by your investing activities.

#2 Wealthsimple


Wealthsimple Review

Rating:

8.5/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $0
  • Fees: $0 to $100k – 0.50%/year; $100k+ – 0.40%/year
  • 401(k) Assistance: Yes

Wealthsimple

works similarly to Betterment in that it’s a robo advisor providing full portfolio design and investment management. It also has no minimum investment requirement.

The platform typically charges an annual management fee of 0.50% of your account balance, but Wealthsimple is currently offering a promotion to manage the first $10,000 free. It offers both taxable investment accounts and retirement accounts. Your account can be funded by weekly, biweekly or monthly automatic deposits.

What separates Wealthsimple from other robo-advisors is its specialization in socially responsible investing (SRI), as well as its Halal Investing Portfolio for those of the Islamic faith.

#3 M1 Finance


M1 Finance Review

Rating:

8.5/10

Quick Summary

  • Minimum Investment: $0
  • Fees: None
  • 401(k) Assistance: No

M1 Finance

is something of a hybrid between robo advisors and traditional investment brokerages. By that I mean you can actually build your own investment portfolio, which is then automatically managed by M1 Finance, robo-advisor style.

The service does this using a concept called “Pies.” A pie can be either an existing template designed by M1 or one you create yourself. Each pie contains up to 100 stocks and ETFs and is built around a certain investment theme. And since M1 allows for fractional shares, a pie can easily include shares of many different companies with just a small amount of money.

M1 Finance is available for taxable accounts and retirement accounts, has no minimum investment required and charges no investment fees. It’s available for Android and iOS mobile devices.

Final Thoughts on How to Start Investing With Little Money

You may have difficulty wrapping your mind around the idea of investing with only $10, but it’s a necessary first step in the investment process. Just as with any other important endeavor in life, you’ve got to start somewhere. And if you don’t start investing when you have a little bit of money, you may never reach the point where you feel you have enough to ever get started at all.

There are plenty of apps available to enable you to begin investing with very little money. You don’t need to use them as investment platforms for the rest of your life. Rather, think of them as an opportunity to become involved in the investing process, on the way to bigger and better things.

As both your portfolio size and your investment experience grow, you can transition over to large discount brokerage firms. There, you can engage in self-directed trading or hold some or all of your money in a managed option. But that can never happen if don’t get started now.

Each of the apps on this list will give you an opportunity to begin investing with just a few dollars. That’s all you need to get the ball rolling. If you save and invest just $10 per week, that will be over $500 per year. But you don’t have to stop there. You can increase your investment in the future and even make lump sum contributions from financial windfalls, like your tax refund.

Once you get started — and that’s the key to everything that will follow — the rest will fall into place. And it all starts with a single, simple investment app that will allow you to start investing with only $10.

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