Most people are intimidated by the word ‘invest,’ as if it requires a significant amount of time and money- but truthfully, it does not. The simplest form of investment requires less than a minute of your time, and maybe a dollar out of your pocket.
But let’s be realistic- when we invest something, we want to see the return. You might not really see much of a profit from investing one dollar, so I’m going to go with a more realistic figure, while still remaining modest– $100.
If you’re like me, you can spend $100 in a thousand different ways. But ask yourself- are you really getting anything from that purchase? Are you reaping the benefits of the money you have spent? Most of the time (for myself,) the answer is: NO.
So I’ve done some research: How I can wisely invest my money, without having to fully comprehend the complexities of the stock market?
Here’s what I have found…
Personally, I have a 401k- and I love it. Although not everyone has one, you might have some other type of retirement plan that is offered by your employer. In Northern New York, these gems are not easy to come by- so if you do have one, use it!
For those of you who are asking- ‘What is a 401K, anyways?’ Here’s the lowdown:
A 401K is a retirement savings plan that is sponsored by your employer. It allows workers to save/invest a portion of their paycheck before taxes are deducted. (Pretty great, right?) The name ‘401K’ derives from the section of the tax code that governs them. If you are lucky enough to have a retirement savings plan, such as a 401K, you will receive statements either online or in the mail. These statements will be a pleasant reminder of how much a 401K really adds up- primarily because you don’t actually notice the weekly/bi-weekly deductions. (At least I don’t!)
The key benefit of a 401K is that you control how your money is invested. If your earnings happen to change, you have the capability to increase/decrease your contribution amount. You are in control.
And although there are complex rules about when you can withdraw your money (along with costly penalties for pulling funds out before retirement age,) it is a fail-safe way to invest that extra $100 that’s been burning a hole in your pocket- instead of blowing it on lottery tickets or the recurring trip to the fast food drive-thru you just can’t seem to avoid (guilty as charged.)
Yes, you read that correctly. Books are a great way to invest money. I’m not talking about the new People Magazine or Vanity Fair- I’m referring to those books we all have read that give us that ‘Ah-Ha’ feeling at the end. The books that really ‘stick with you’ for years and years.
Recently, I’ve read some excellent financial and personal development books (Debt-Proof Living, by Mary Hunt – and 101 Ways to Say Thank You, by Kelly Browne.)
What I have absorbed from these books is true insight, inspiration, and realization. The value of these feelings cannot be price tagged, but they certainly can be used to enhance other facets of my life- now THAT is an investment.
Have a Yard Sale
Did I really just propose a $100 investment in a yard sale? Yes, I did.
To have a successful yard sale (and to make some serious dough) you will need to purchase a few things, to make sure everything runs ‘smoothly’
- Tables, to display merchandise
- Cash box for the money
- Markers, scissors, price stickers, display signs
- Calculator (or have the calculator app on your phone handy)
- Bags or cardboard boxes for customer purchases
- Plenty of cash to make change with
Most likely, you won’t even need to invest $100 in the supplies needed for a yard sale, as most of the necessary supplies are everyday items that we all have laying around.
Yard sales (or Garage sales) are a great way to earn some extra money, and to get rid of the junk we’ve been storing for decades now (You’ve seen the show ‘Hoarders,’ right?)
Money Market Account
Another form of a savings account that gets you a slightly higher interest rate is a Money Market Account.
These accounts are very easy to get money in and out of, allowing flexible availability when the funds are needed. And as your balance increases, so does the amount of dividends you receive.
With a minimum deposit requirement of $100, a SeaComm Money Market account is undeniably the way to go, especially if you are considering a more modest investment at first.
How can you invest in yourself, you might ask? Well, you invest in yourself all the time- you just don’t realize it.
Take the $100 and go to the spa; get a massage, facial, or a fish pedicure (yes, that’s a thing.)
Maybe you’re not a ‘spa person,’ and you would much rather enjoy dinner and a movie with a friend. You could take a mini road trip, try out a yoga class, OR put the money away and save up for that cruise you’ve always wanted to take.
Either way, investing in yourself is one of the best ways to enrich your life- financially and personally.
Your Credit Card Bill
I know this might not seem like an investment, but trust me- nothing feels better than getting ahead on your credit card dues.
Here’s an example: If you have $100 balance on your credit card debt at 17.99% interest, you are not going to find another investment (included on this list) that will earn you that kind of return. Pay off the debt and get rid of that negative interest.
You can always think of it as avoiding a negative $100 investment. And if need be- you’ve just earned yourself some additional credit on your credit card- for emergencies only, right?
Start an Emergency Fund
If you don’t already have a stash of money that sits there just for emergencies, then the best place for you to put your $100 is a Regular Savings account.
Having money set aside for emergencies means that when something unexpected happens (and it will happen, eventually,) you do not have to resort to acquiring debt to fix the predicament. It also takes a little weight off your shoulders.
For example, I used to own what they call a ‘clunker’ for a vehicle. I knew that it was nearing the end of its life, but I didn’t want to admit it to myself. As I was driving down the highway- the inevitable happened. With the engine now shot, I was forced to go shopping for a new vehicle.
Although having to be towed along the highway was a bit annoying- having some money put away in my savings account took the stress away from the down payment for a new vehicle (and paying the fee to have my car towed.)
Coincidentally, SeaComm offers its members a Regular Savings account with a minimum balance of just $5, and dividends paid to you monthly based on your daily balance.
Why not invest in others and what it can do for their lives? Arguably so- there is nothing more rewarding than giving to those in need.
Find a local charity that you believe in and make a donation. There are a variety of programs and organizations that would gratefully accept $100 from you- after all, it could provide meals to those who really need it, or clothes for those who cannot afford it.
Maybe you’re like me, and you would much rather volunteer your time. That’s just as great, if not better. Take some time and spend a day volunteering at a local charity or non-profit organization, like a meal delivery program, animal shelter, or even a nursing home.
I can guarantee you- the time you spend volunteering is worth much more than $100.
Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
We all are aware of the brutality of a North Country winter- but the summer months can be pretty fierce, too.
$100 is more than enough to make your home more energy efficient- saving you money throughout the year. Here are some tips to utilize that $100 bill:
- Insulate your home • by sealing windows and doors and making sure you house does not leak air. You will find that this makes a huge difference on your energy bills during either of the two most extreme seasons.
- Switch from using incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs • Although fluorescent bulbs cost more initially, they last 8-12 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Over time, this will have a positive impact on your overall energy usage.
- Plant a tree outside or near your home • Not only do trees provide shade in the warmer months, but when the tree is bare in the winter- it will allow warm sunshine into your home during the most ideal time of day.
- Replace/Update your furnace • Save up for a high-efficiency furnace, which burns less gas, burns hotter, and releases less carbon emissions. OR fund some important updates, such as; changing the air filters or sealing the ducts. These updates will keep your furnace from working too much, saving you money over time.
Do NOTHING with It
There’s nothing wrong with just keeping that $100 on hand. Sometimes it’s a nice surprise at the end of the month to see that you actually didn’t go over your budget. But do yourself a favor and be mindful of how you use that $100. By making thoughtful decisions with the money we earn, we can ensure that we get the maximum purchase power with each dollar. As Ayn Rand once said, “Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”