I used to think investing was expensive, but it only took me $20 a week to get started

  • When I started investing I was skeptical because I didn’t earn much, but gave it a try anyway.
  • I set up $20 a week deposits and forgot about them. In a year, I’d invested $1,040 without thinking.
  • I didn’t miss the money, and it was an easy way to start building wealth on a small income.
  • Consult with an advisor to make sure you are doing everything to grow your wealth in this challenging time »

My first foray into investing coincided with a time in my life when I wasn’t earning much. 

My dad felt strongly that I should know the basics of investing once I got my first real job out of college, especially since that job didn’t offer me a 401(k) plan at first. He taught me how to use a brokerage account at Fidelity, and helped me make my first few transfers and trades with a few hundred dollars I had saved. But, after that, I stopped doing it — I felt that I couldn’t use my account unless I had big chunks of money to put into it. 

Since I’d learned how to invest with a lot of money, I thought that was a prerequisite. But, I was wrong. 

Knowing that I needed to keep investing led me to set up an account with Robinhood, since I found my Fidelity account difficult to manage. After setting up an automatic deposit of $20 per week from my checking account into my investment account, I realized that it wasn’t only possible for me to invest with the little money I had, but I should have been doing it all along.

Making small, automatic transfers made investing feel manageable

It may not sound like much, but that $20 a week proved to me that I could afford to invest.

When I wasn’t earning much, saving $1,000 meant trying to leave money in my checking account until I could meet my goal. But, inevitably, I’d spend it before the money ever had the chance to hit my brokerage account. When I started with the direct deposits to Robinhood, pulling $20 a week from my account made it painless to actually invest.

And, even though it was a small amount, I saw it add up quickly. In a year, I’d invested $1,040, and it had grown a bit, too. 

This system simply worked better for me psychologically. Asking me to save $1,040 a year? At that time, no way. I would have felt like that was impossible. But, asking me to put away $20 a week? That felt attainable. It broke investing down from this giant task to a small, weekly thing that I didn’t even have to do. 

At first, I didn’t realize that it was possible to invest with small amounts. Now, I swear by it. 

I’ve since started earning more, and have challenged myself to save and invest more. I’ve changed my strategy away from Robinhood, but I still use a similar principle elsewhere. Now, I use a robo-advisor that makes this strategy even easier, since I won’t have to pick where every dollar goes, simplifying it even more.

This strategy made investing possible at a time in my life when I felt like I could never get ahead financially. For anyone who wants to get a start in investing but doesn’t have much money to invest, I say starting small is the way to go. 

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