It may seem like an impossible task to invest on a low income, but the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices. Unlike savings, which serve short-term financial goals like buying a new car or establishing an emergency fund, investments are intended to meet your long-term financial goals, including providing for a child’s college education or your retirement.
Regardless of income, the money that you do have needs to be managed. The best investment products for you will be determined by your long-term financial goals. Discuss these with a financial advisor who may be able to assist you with finding investments that best serve your goals – even if they seem small or insignificant compared to the figures you read about or see on television.
Types of Investments
Retirement plans: 401(k) and IRAs Many people choose to invest through their employer, taking advantages of the matching funds and tax benefits that accompany many 401(k) plans and IRAs (Individual Retirement Arrangements). Contributing at least the amount your employer will match is one way to get a significant return on your investment. Because the employee typically decides the contribution, you can begin with a small amount each paycheck, gradually raising your contribution as your salary increases. If your employer does not provide a retirement plan, you can still set up an IRA as an individual, and reap the tax benefits.
Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds When you purchase a stock, you are buying a share of ownership in a company. A bond is a loan of money to a company, or government, that promises to pay back the principal plus interest. Mutual funds pool money from many investors to buy a variety of stocks, bonds, or other securities. Investing through a mutual fund, rather than purchasing stocks and bonds on your own, provides several benefits, such as being able to choose from a variety of professionally managed funds tailored for different levels of risk and rates of return. Some mutual funds have an initial investment of as little as $50, making them an ideal place to begin investing on a tight budget.
Consider your long-term financial goals, and determine what type of investment combination, or portfolio, will best serve those goals. Then, begin investing. No matter what the initial investment is, the important thing is to start. A financial advisor may be able to help you find areas in your budget to cut back in order to increase your ability to invest, and direct your investments so they may best serve your long-term financial goals.