Many people believe that you need thousands of dollars at your disposal in order to start investing. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. You can start investing in the stock market today with $500 or less.

young woman

So if you’re wondering how to invest $500 or less, here are seven smart ways to get started.

1. Try Micro Investing

With micro-investing, you can start investing with as little as $5. This makes it the perfect option for college students or anyone who wants to start investing but doesn’t have a lot of disposable income.

There are plenty of micro-investing apps you can choose from to get started. These apps are easy to use and cater to brand-new investors. To learn more about micro-investing, here are five apps you can look into.

Acorns

Acorns is one of the easiest and most low-cost ways to start investing. There’s no minimum balance required to sign up for Acorns, and the company only charges $1 per month.

After you sign up, you’ll connect your Acorns account to a credit or debit card. Every time you make a purchase, Acorns will round that purchase up to the nearest dollar. Once you hit $5, Acorns will begin investing that money for you.

Betterment

Betterment is a good option for anyone that is interested in micro-investing but wants to have a little more control over their investment portfolio. The company does the investing for you but gives you the option to work with a financial advisor and have more say when it comes to your investments.

There are no minimum balance requirements to sign up for the company’s most basic plan. However, the company does charge a 0.25% monthly fee on your investments.

Stash

Stash caters to all different types of investors. When you sign up, you’ll take a brief survey to determine your level of risk tolerance when it comes to investing. From there, you’ll pick how much and how often you want to invest.

And Stash lets you choose the types of companies you want to invest in. For instance, if you’re only interested in investing in eco-friendly companies, you can specify this in your profile.

Robinhood

Robinhood is one of the best options for new investors. There’s no minimum balance to get started with Robinhood, and the company doesn’t charge any trading fees. And the company’s app is fairly intuitive to use.

Plus, Robinhood is one of the few micro-investing platforms that let you trade full stocks, mutual funds, options, and cryptocurrencies.

Rize

With Rize, you can save or invest money. Even if you just want to set up a savings account, Rize will pay interest on your account, and your returns will much better than what you would earn at a bank.

To get started, you’ll set up your savings goals and timeline. From there, the company recommends how much and how often you’ll want to save to meet your goals.

2. Open a High-Interest Savings Account

If you’re not quite ready to start investing, then you could try opening a high-interest savings account. This is an easy, low-risk way to start earning interest on your money. The average high-interest savings account pays about 2% in interest.

Of course, you’re not going to get the same kinds of returns that you would if you invested that money in the stock market. But this is a better option than doing nothing, and your savings account could serve as a long-term emergency fund.

3. Pay Down Your Debt

Paying down your debt is one of the best investments you can make in your future. This is especially true if you have high-interest credit card debt. According to the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate on a credit card is just over 15%.

And if you don’t have a good credit score, your APR will likely be much higher. A high APR can add up to hundreds of dollars in interest every month. So by paying down your debt, you’ll be saving yourself thousands of dollars over the next year.

4. Try Commission-Free ETFs

If you have some interest in investing, you may want to learn how to do it yourself. In that case, commission-free ETFs are a great option. ETFs are a type of mutual fund so you can purchase several different investments in one transaction. This allows you to diversify your investment more than if you just bought individual stocks.

5. Open a Roth IRA

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, then you should seriously consider opening a Roth IRA. This is a retirement savings plan that allows you to contribute after-tax money to your account. So eventually, when you reach retirement age, you can withdraw that money tax-free.

However, there are a few things you’ll need to know before opening a Roth IRA. First of all, you should only open an IRA if you’re prepared to leave the money there.

If you withdraw the money before you’re 59½, you’ll end up paying penalties. So if you think you’ll need to take your money out early, you should consider one of the other options on this list.

6. Start an Online Business

If you’re looking for an unconventional way to invest your money, why not try starting an online business? Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses require a lot of capital to get up and running, but the same cannot be said for an online business.

You won’t need office space, a warehouse, or expensive equipment. You can definitely get started with $500, and in all likelihood, it will cost much less than that. Here are some popular online business ideas:

  • Starting and monetizing a blog
  • Selling things on eBay or Craig’s List
  • Selling services like freelancing writing, editing, or graphic design
  • Opening an e-commerce store
  • Buying items and flipping them for profit

7. Use Robo-Advisors

And finally, you might consider using a robo-advisor to invest your money. A robo-advisor is a simple online investment platform.

When you sign up, you’ll fill out a list of questions, and the company will create an investment portfolio for you. Your investment portfolio will be tailored to you and how conservative or risky you are.

A robo-advisor will have fewer capabilities and services than you’ll receive if you work with a financial advisor. You won’t receive personalized advice based on your financial goals.

But the fees are low, and you can get started right away, even if you only have a small amount of money to invest. And robo-advisors offer a number of investing options, including:

  • Roth IRAs
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Solo 401(k)s
  • Taxable accounts

Bottom Line

Hopefully, this article has shown you that investing doesn’t have to be confusing or expensive. You can get started right away with very little money. And if you aren’t ready to invest just yet, you can focus on paying down high-interest credit card debt, boosting your income, and saving an emergency fund.