Investing Even If You Feel Broke

While we’re working hard to prepare for our seats at the table, we also need to mind our money. What’s the point of making money if we’re not making it work for us?

For the next few weeks, we’re dedicating #memomonday to getting our financial futures in better shape. We’re passing on gems we’ve learned along the way to make you better informed, and to make your hard-earned money work better for you.

By: Minda Harts, CEO, The Memo

I used to be one of those people who thought I could never invest because I wasn’t rich. After reading several investment books, I quickly realized that I was completely wrong. You don’t have to be rich to invest at all. The only thing you need is patience and a little self-control, and luckily, both of those don’t cost a thing! I started investing with less than $100. If you feel broke now, it’s a good bet you don’t want to feel the same way 20 years from now.

Here are some things that helped me along the way...

1) Invest in Your Favorite Stores

Instead of going out with your friends every week for happy hour, you could instead save your money and invest one weeks’ worth of happy hour drinks in a couple of shares of your favorite company’s stock. Let’s say, for example, you love shopping at a certain clothing store, or enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner – you could take your money and invest it in those brands. When I first started investing, my strategy was to invest in stores that I regularly shopped at. It makes sense – if you love a particular store, other people are bound to love it too, and that means the company is as safe a bet as you can get! Some stocks range from 10 dollars up to 100 dollars each. Let’s be honest, many of us can easily spend that kind of money on a Saturday night. So practice patience and invest in the companies you love.

2) Less Mocha Lattes and One Mutual Fund

I love a good skinny latte with soy milk at least once a week. If you’re a serious caffeine junkie, you might buy your favorite drink from a coffee shop every day. So let’s say you buy a latte every day for the next year...You’ll end up spending roughly $1,800. What if you skip the lattes and invest that money in a mutual fund instead? [Be aware, most mutual funds have an initial minimum buy-in of around $1000.] Yes, the latte gives you instant gratification, but wouldn’t you rather bet on the odds of enjoying a nice beach vacation from the mutual fund on its maturity date? (Another plus – the mutual fund has way less calories.)

3) Treat Every Dollar You Spend Like an Investment

This might sound like something your mom would tell you, but if you start changing the relationship you have with your money, showing it a little more respect, you might spend it more wisely. If you don’t think you have enough money yet to partake in tips one and two, I strongly suggest working on this one and going back to the other two as soon as you can. So the final tip: Make one investment every day. An investment is more than just a stock or bond. Each investment you make represents your future and that nice beach vacation. Once you have invested in your basic needs – food, water, and shelter – every dollar spent after that equals a new opportunity for you to start building the future you want to create. Starting today, sort every dollar you spend into three categories: long-term goals, short-term goals, or immediate needs. You want your money to work smarter for you. Pretty soon this will become second nature and you’ll become much more mindful of how you spend and how much you waste (you know all those rotten apples you’ve thrown out because you never got around to eating them? Those could have been shares in Apple.)

Final Thoughts:

No one is here to judge you on how you spend your money, but we are here to offer you tips on how to make your money work harder. With the tips above, you can consider investing with what you already have, even if it’s only a little. I have no doubt that pretty soon you’ll be hooked and looking for investment opportunities every chance you get.

An earlier version of this article was originally posted on Just Haves