There are so many ways to save, and one of them is putting aside a small amount each month for investments. If you're new to personal finance or just want to get started saving some cash, it might be hard to figure out where to begin. Here are three simple questions you should ask yourself before deciding how much to set aside every week, month, or year.
A little while ago we wrote about how you could earn as high as 15% interest per annum when saving up to an annual deposit of $5,000 into a superannuation fund. That was based off the assumption that you would put away at least 1% of your gross income (or savings) into this kind of account annually. However, if you have less than $5,000 saved, then there are other options available.
The first question you'll need to consider is "where am I currently able to save?" This article assumes you don't already have any extra funds saved from gifts, inheritance, or previous contributions made by others. If you've got additional resources to contribute, read our post on tips for using spare change to boost your retirement portfolio.
So let's say you only have $100 sitting around. Where can you use that to start investing? The answer isn't immediately obvious. In fact, you may not even realise it until you go looking.
We spoke with Robert Pagliarini, Head of Investment Advice at NAB Bank Australia who said:
"One common mistake people often make is thinking their current salary provides sufficient capital growth over time...In reality, most Australians [with] average salaries actually end up losing value due to inflation."
Here are three different scenarios to help you decide what to do with your $100. What happens if you choose option A, B, or C?
Option A - Keep all of it in bank deposits: It turns out that keeping your entire contribution in safe accounts like term deposits, banking cheques/certificates of deposit (CDs), etc., doesn't really provide very good opportunities for long-term growth. According to NAB's Head of Financial Planning, John O'Shea:
"[These products] offer relatively low rates but they also come with large penalties for early withdrawal and exit fees."
That means these kinds of accounts generally won't allow you to take advantage of market fluctuations without incurring higher costs. Banks tend to charge hefty exit fees when withdrawing your money early, and because of rising competition between providers, CD rates aren't always the highest either. As such, putting your whole budget towards bank accounts leaves you exposed to those risks.
On top of that, according to Pagliarini, banks usually don't pay nearly enough attention to managing customer portfolios effectively. He says:
"...banks focus heavily on retailing financial services, rather than providing advice tailored specifically to customers’ needs."
As a result, he recommends setting aside at least 10% of your total contribution in alternative solutions. Optionally, you could keep some of it liquid and risk-free, though. For example, you could open short-dated fixed rate bonds, or buy shares through a unit trust.
Keep in mind that CDs and similar products typically offer lower minimum opening balances compared to mutual funds, too. You'd probably have better luck getting access to higher APY yields by choosing a product that offers both longer maturities and higher dividends.
Option B - Put half in a guaranteed investment bond (GIC): Guaranteed Investment Bonds (GICs) are basically bank certificates issued directly from a government agency. They promise to return a specific percentage of your initial investment within a certain period of time. So far so boring.
However, GICs differ from regular savings accounts because they include insurance policies against unexpected events like death, illness, unemployment, natural disasters, war, etc. These guarantees ensure you won't lose everything overnight, especially during times of economic uncertainty.
According to Pagliarini, GICs are particularly popular among retirees since they offer decent liquidity and minimal default risk. To qualify, however, you must meet strict criteria including having no credit problems, stable employment, owning real estate property, etc. Basically, anyone who fits that description qualifies for a GIC.
You can find information on individual countries' offerings here.
Another plus point of GICs is that they offer slightly higher APYs than traditional bank accounts. On the downside, GICs can cost quite a bit more than ordinary bank accounts. Fees range anywhere from 0.25% to 2%. Not cheap! Additionally, GICs are subject to withdrawals being limited once you reach age 59, unless you purchase another certificate beforehand.
Finally, remember that GICs are considered non-marketable securities. Because of that, you cannot sell them back to the issuer after you redeem them. Instead, you have to turn to brokers to sell yours back to the company.
Option C - Invest part of it in a balanced mutual fund: Balanced Mutual Funds aim to strike a balance between stock and bond assets. Their goal is to deliver consistent performance across various markets, without exposing investors to excessive volatility.
To achieve this, balanced funds employ managers who actively manage portfolios instead of simply following pre-set benchmarks. Like GICs, they also carry insurance policies against unforeseen circumstances. Since they strive to generate steady returns regardless of external factors, they're great alternatives to traditional bank accounts.
Balanced funds can be run passively or actively managed. Active management involves paying a fee for professional assistance. Passive management does not require any ongoing service charges.
Personally speaking, I recommend starting with passive management. After all, you shouldn't incur unnecessary expenses upfront if you haven't yet learned how to pick winning trades manually.
Once you've decided where to allocate your $100, the next step is figuring out which investment strategy to pursue. There are two main choices: index funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Each has its own pros and cons, so let's break down exactly what each entails.
Index funds: Index funds are essentially collections of related shares that track a particular benchmark, like S&P / ASX 200, Dow Jones Industrial Average, FTSE All Share, MSCI EAFE, etc. The idea behind index funds is to reduce exposure to risky asset classes by diversifying holdings amongst numerous companies.
They accomplish this by selling units called shares. When someone purchases a share, they become a member of that collective group and receive voting rights. Thus, when shareholders vote on whether to approve corporate decisions, members collectively determine the outcome.
Because of this indirect ownership structure, index funds are known for offering low operating costs and excellent tax efficiency. Another benefit is that index funds are designed to mimic broad market indexes, meaning they fluctuate alongside them.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Exchange traded funds (ETFs) work similarly to index funds. Unlike their counterparts, however, ETFs trade on public exchanges like normal equities do. An investor owns units representing a stake in a given company. However, unlike index funds, ETFs can be used as a standalone investment tool in lieu of a full allocation plan.
For instance, if you wanted to hold onto your cash for six months, you could place it inside an Australian Shares Fund ETF (ASF) for 6 months, and then transfer it to an international equity ETF (EWD) for 12 months, and repeat the cycle again and again.
It's important to note that holding cash outside a professionally managed investment vehicle is possible, but carries greater risks. Cash held outside a vehicle exposes you to undue volatility and lack of security, since it requires self-management. Also, you might miss out on potential gains if prices rise above your target levels.
When comparing index funds vs. ETFs, here are some key points worth considering:
Costs: With index funds, you pay nothing beyond the price of buying units. Conversely, ETFs involve trading commissions, maintenance fees, brokerage costs, and more. Depending on the type of ETF, some may charge transaction costs as well. Fortunately, these can easily be offset by doing things like spreading transactions throughout the day, avoiding heavy trading periods, and employing stop losses.
Liquidity: One major difference between ETFs and index funds comes down to liquidity. While index funds are meant to maintain consistency, ETFs are intended to give buyers flexibility. That's why you can freely switch between them at will. Just think of them as separate vehicles that serve different purposes.
Taxation: Tax implications depend entirely on where you live. Some jurisdictions apply double taxation treaties that exempt foreign dividends from local taxes. Others levy flat withholding rates for residents earning incomes abroad. To avoid complications, consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any moves.
Withholding tax rules vary depending upon residence status, citizenship status, and industry sectors. Check out this link for detailed explanations of how tax laws affect expats living overseas.
Investment Strategy: Exchanges traded funds are primarily suitable for active traders seeking to build a portfolio for medium-to-longer terms. Meanwhile, index funds are ideal for long-term investors who prefer stability. Be aware that index funds tend to perform better than ETFs over shorter horizons.
It's time for another edition of Moneycast, the show where we help you figure out all your financial questions and learn how to get rich (or at least not lose as much as you think). Today, we're going to look at one specific question many people have when they first hear about real estate flipping: How can I make more money with $100 or even just $50? This is something I struggled with myself while building my own business in real estate. The good news is there are ways!
First off, let's talk about what "flipping" really means. In short, it's buying property below market value, renovating it, selling it above market price. One of our favorite methods of doing this comes from investor David Wood, who explains his strategy in this video. Basically, he looks for properties below market value but still within a certain range so that investors like us don't go bankrupt trying to fix them up. Once you've found these deals, you then sell them. And if you want to take things further, here are some tips to consider before purchasing any home.
The next step is to find an area you'd be interested in investing in. If you're looking for quick cash, try neighborhoods such as Stuyvesant Town or Gramercy Park. These areas tend to attract wealthy professionals and families due to their higher rents and proximity to downtown Manhattan, making them great places to buy cheap houses quickly. This makes them ideal candidates for investors. You'll also find plenty of other options in New York City by searching Google Maps' satellite view feature.
Once you've decided on an area, search online to see whether there are foreclosures available near you. Foreclosure listings often include information regarding the location of the house, its condition, and how long ago the foreclosure took place. When viewing these listings, keep in mind that the owner may have already repaired damage caused during construction or attempted repair work done by previous owners. Also remember that prices listed on Craigslist reflect only the seller's asking price — the actual amount paid after repairs and improvements.
Finally, once you've identified potential homes, contact local lenders to ask about loans for those particular properties. Often times, banks won't lend you money unless the property has been inspected and appraised. After obtaining financing, put down a 10% deposit on each home. Then, wait until the appraisal process is complete before moving forward with closing the deal. Make sure you consult an attorney experienced in real estate transactions prior to signing anything.
Now that you understand the basics of flipping houses, let's move onto the big question: how can I make more money with $100 or even $50? Here are three different ideas to give you inspiration.
If you've got $100 sitting around right now, why not spend half of it on a nice meal at a fancy restaurant? Or maybe you could splurge on a new pair of shoes? Instead, invest every extra dollar into growing your rental portfolio. We call it doubling your income through passive investments.
Let's say you decide to purchase two houses instead of one. Each house would cost you $100 per month to rent ($12,000/year = $1,200), plus utilities. Let's assume both houses earn $2,500/month, which averages out to roughly $30,000 annually in gross revenue. At the end of four years, you'd bring home $60,000, which translates to $15,000 per year in net profit. That's five times better than renting! Of course, this example is highly simplistic because most flips aren't profitable straight away, but the point remains: you should always strive to maximize profits early whenever possible. It's easy to double your annual earnings over time through smart investing decisions.
Of course, this assumes you actually manage to flip those two houses. To increase your chances, choose a neighborhood full of renters rather than homeowners. People who live in apartments tend to care less about exterior paint quality and overall appearance. As a result, they're willing to accept lower-quality renovations in exchange for having access to affordable housing — perfect conditions for a landlord. On top of that, avoid fixing up rentals too expensively since you probably won't be able to recoup costs later on. Renters might notice small problems, especially when dealing with larger ones like plumbing issues. Remember that although you're running a business, no one cares about your personal needs except yourself. Be prepared to sacrifice comfort.
In addition to doubling your monthly income, you could also triple it using this trick. All you need is $300 saved for six months and you're set. Simply withdraw $25 from your account every week and invest it. By the sixth month, you'll have accumulated approximately $900 — nearly $3,000 total. Now divide that number by 52 weeks and voila, you're left with $18.91 worth of free capital per week! Investing your weekly savings wisely yields huge results. For instance, you could use part of that $18.91 to open a Roth IRA. Withdrawing $5,400 from this fund every year and putting it back toward your goal of becoming financially independent allows you to reach goals faster than ever.
Alternatively, you could choose to save a portion of your paycheck for retirement purposes. Since you're likely saving for your future anyway, it doesn't hurt to allocate a little extra towards your 401(k) plan. Ideally, however, you should contribute between 18 percent and 20 percent of your pre-tax salary — otherwise known as pretax contributions — to receive the maximum tax deduction allowed under current law. Plus, experts recommend starting young and continuing to save throughout life. According to CNBC, Americans aged 35 and younger typically devote only 3 percent of their incomes to retirement planning, whereas older adults dedicate 6 percent [sources: Hiltunen, Bloomburg]. Saving early prevents you from falling behind later on and gives you a chance to build wealth for years to come.
One way to dramatically boost your profitability is finding a unique niche product. Real estate investors often specialize in residential buildings, commercial structures, single-family homes, multi-unit dwellings...the list goes on. However, in order to succeed as a flipper, you must possess knowledge pertaining to multiple aspects of the industry. Therefore, it helps to become familiar with several types of projects simultaneously. A generalist learns everything they can about various subjects, allowing them to provide solutions for clients regardless of type of transaction. Although it pays to specialize, success in multifaceted fields requires versatility.
For example, some savvy investors prefer to focus on acquiring distressed properties and then selling them at fair market values. Others opt to locate high-end condos and convert them into luxury units. Still others seek to acquire low-income family homes and rehab them into middle class residences. Whatever approach you ultimately pursue, try to stay informed about the latest trends within your chosen field. Keep track of mortgage rates, interest rate fluctuations, and economic indicators. Noticing patterns in the market ahead of everyone else will allow you to capitalize on opportunities before anyone else does.
Regardless of how you proceed, you shouldn't neglect the importance of research. Learn everything you can about economics, demographics, finance, insurance, and legal matters associated with real estate. Take courses related to contract interpretation, loan origination, credit analysis, title procedures, etc. Read books written by successful investors. Attend seminars and workshops offered by professional organizations. Finally, educate yourself on the psychology of buyers and sellers, since this plays a crucial role in determining whether or not someone wants to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship with you.
With all of the headlines about "how much you should save," it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. The truth is, saving money shouldn't be overwhelming at all. You don't have to invest thousands just to get started and in fact, you probably only need as little as $100 or less per month.
The key here isn't how much you put away but rather what kind of return you generate from each dollar invested. If you're like most people, however, the best thing you've heard recently was probably the magic number of 10% annualized interest rate. In other words, if you saved up $1,000 then earned an average 9%, you'd end up with around $900 after one year. That may sound great, but let me ask you this -- wouldn't you prefer to earn even higher returns than that?
If so, chances are good that you'll want to learn a few things about investing before making any serious decisions. After all, while earning lower rates might take longer to grow your savings, they also provide greater security over time because of their steadier growth patterns. On top of that, some investments offer better risk-reward ratios (returns vs. risks) compared to others. For example, bonds tend to offer lower potential losses during market downturns, but usually result in slower growth when prices rise. Stocks, on the other hand, typically fluctuate both ways depending on factors such as earnings, dividends, etc. However, stocks require more work since investors must track price movements regularly to stay ahead of stock bubbles, among other issues.
So where does that leave us? Well, we recommend starting with three basic questions: What can you do with 100 dollars cash? How can I flip 100 dollars fast? And what is the smartest way to spend money? Let's look at these in turn.
This question takes into account not only your own unique financial situation but also your lifestyle preferences. It boils down to whether you're looking for short-term goals or long-term gains. Here are two examples:
Short term goal: Pay off high-interest debt. To accomplish this task, aim to pay down credit card balances first, followed closely by personal loans. This strategy reduces overall monthly payments and helps you build equity faster by lowering your debt burden. Next, use the extra funds left over to increase retirement contributions until you reach withdrawal eligibility based on age and life expectancy. Finally, allocate the rest toward increasing your emergency fund.
Long term gain: Buy low-cost index funds to achieve long-term results. By doing so, you avoid chasing performance and instead choose proven managers who actively manage portfolios based on fundamental research principles. Index funds allow you to create customized portfolios tailored specifically to your needs without needing to monitor them daily. Plus, buying index funds doesn't cost anything upfront since they automatically charge expenses once you buy shares.
For more details, check out our guide to building wealth through smart asset allocation.
Now that you understand what sort of goals you want to pursue with your initial investment capital, consider how quickly you can meet those objectives. Ideally, you'll want to focus on achieving immediate gratification whenever possible. While this approach might seem counterintuitive given today's economic conditions, remember that compound interest works every single time. The sooner you start contributing to your 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Solo 401(k), SIMPLE IRA, 529 plan, or similar type of tax-advantaged accounts, the more opportunities you give yourself to maximize your savings potential.
One caveat though: Don't expect too many miracles right away unless you happen to find a hot deal that makes its way onto CNBC within days of being listed on a stock exchange. Otherwise, patience tends to win out over quick riches stories. As Warren Buffet famously said, "It takes 20 years to become really rich and 40 years to stop wanting to hurry."
In case you haven't noticed, a lot has changed since Buffett made his famous statement back in 1999. Today, thanks largely to technology advancements, it's easier than ever to identify valuable deals almost immediately following IPO announcements. All you need is access to reliable news feeds, free tools, and a bit of luck. With that in mind, here are a couple useful resources to help you decide when to jump in and when to wait patiently:
Stock scoops & insider trading: Stock scoops tracks publicly available documents related to upcoming IPOs. Once it identifies something potentially interesting, it posts alerts to subscribers via email and text message containing links to articles explaining why companies deserve attention. Meanwhile, insiders often leak juicy tidbits about upcoming IPOs directly to reporters. As mentioned above, these tips appear instantly online due to technological advances, allowing savvy investors to beat Wall Street analysts' estimates by minutes.
Hot new stocks: SeekingAlpha maintains an extensive database of newly released public company stocks. Users simply enter keywords such as "hot" to search for specific sectors, individual companies, and stock symbols, along with additional filters. Results include recent press releases, analyst recommendations, charts, and more.
Of course, you won't always land on the winning side. Sometimes, it pays to keep researching and waiting patiently until you stumble upon the next big winner. Even then, success requires planning ahead and staying disciplined. Remember, unlike lottery winners, successful investors rarely receive lump sum checks that they can splurge on whatever they please. Instead, they convert their windfalls into assets that produce steady income streams. So set aside some long-term goals before spending your newfound wealth. Then stick to your game plan!
Once you've mastered the basics of investing, it's time to think about bigger picture goals. Namely, how to diversify across different categories of products and services. Why? Because no matter how well you perform in one area of finance, problems arise when certain subcategories go south simultaneously. For instance, suppose you bought Apple Inc. (AAPL)'s product line early last summer thinking that demand would continue unabated throughout 2012. Unfortunately, this proved incorrect, resulting in disappointing quarterly sales figures. Now imagine that you were holding $500 worth of AAPL stock back then. A 1% decrease in share value could wipe out half of your profits!
Fortunately, your portfolio offers several options. Of particular note are alternative investments such as real estate or commodities. These alternatives generally carry higher levels of volatility compared to traditional securities but still reward you handsomely if you play your cards correctly. Take gold, for example. Over the past decade, the precious metal shot up in popularity as a hedge against inflation. Yet, if you didn't take advantage of its skyrocketing costs during 2011, you missed out on hundreds -- perhaps even thousands -- of dollars in profit.
Alternatively, you could sell your holdings and reinvest elsewhere. When done properly, this technique allows you to minimize losses and maximize gains, plus it gives you a chance to capitalize on future uptrends. For example, after suffering huge losses earlier this year, traders began selling oil futures contracts. Since natural gas prices had fallen sharply prior to the expiration date of March 15th, buyers outnumbered sellers, pushing up current values significantly. Had they waited another week or two, however, they might have lost everything due to lack of liquidity.
As you can see, timing matters greatly when flipping 100 bucks fast. Knowing when to hold 'em and knowing when to fold 'em can mean the difference between getting rich and barely breaking even. Fortunately, we maintain a list of helpful websites that show you when to strike and when to duck in order to protect your finances. Check them out now!
Sometimes referred to as the holy grail of investing, $100/day refers to the ability of people with limited budgets to outperform wealthy individuals using relatively small amounts of money. Most experts agree that people who consistently pull that feat off either live extremely frugal lifestyles or else utilize sophisticated methods known as technical analysis, arbitrage, and position sizing. We're going to cover a slightly modified version of the latter method.
First, you need to determine exactly how much money you can afford to invest. Doing so starts with figuring out your comfort level. Based on your budget, answer the following four questions:
Can you afford to lose this money? If yes, proceed to step 2. If no, skip to step 5.
Are you willing to accept a moderate loss? If yes, proceed to step 3. If no, skip to step 6.
Do you have multiple sources of income? If yes, proceed to step 4. If no, skip to step 7.
Are you confident that you'll succeed? If yes, proceed to step 5. If no, skip to step 8.
Step 1: Determine Your Target Monthly Investment Amount
Next, divide your total monthly net salary by 30 to calculate your target monthly investment amount. To simplify calculations, round the figure to the nearest hundred dollars ($100). Also, assume that the remainder goes towards taxes, insurance, medical bills, food, entertainment, home repairs, etc., leaving nothing left for discretionary spending.
Step 2: Choose an Investible Portfolio
Choose a combination of mutual funds and ETFs that meets these criteria:
Become CEO of your own lead generation software company, just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.