Every good thing starts with a little step. And believe me, we’re huge believers in little steps. Little steps signal one important thing: action. Without action there is no progress when it comes to getting your personal finances under control. So, there you are, in your 20’s, budget in place [link to post], some funds saved for emergencies [link to post], school debt under control [link to post], and a vacation booked. And then, it happens. You suddenly have $1,000 saved and no idea where to put it.
Sure, you could put it under your mattress, but I doubt that’s a very effective method of investing for someone as savvy as you. So, what can you do with $1,000 to help maximize it? This post is all about giving you ideas for how to invest that first $1,000 that doesn’t have a specific home. It might not seem like much at first, but we can tell you from experience. That first little step adds up, and the earlier you take action on this small sum of money, the more upside it has.
Here are four ideas you can take action on today to put that $1,000 to work for your family:
Open an Online Savings Account
Why Online? Well, chances are your local banks can’t compete with some of the interest rates that are provided online. For example, our local bank was only providing us 0.05% on our savings account and so after a little digging we found out that Capital One (who we already hold two travel credit cards with) had an easily accessible online savings account with a 1.05% interest rate. As recently as today the same account offers 1.15% interest with no-fees.
And so take that $1,000 and open up a Capital One 360 Savings or Money Market Account and let your money earn a modest interest rate in today’s economy.
Open an account with a local Credit Union
If the online route isn’t for you then instead of a bank why don’t you try a local credit union? What’s a credit union, you ask? Well, there’s a long answer, but to keep it simple it’s basically a bank with membership guidelines. So, not anyone can get an account from specific credit unions. Sometimes you need to be a student of a specific school, maybe a teacher, or a member of a labor union, but increasingly credit unions are opening their arms to new clients and so nowadays you pretty much just need to live within 10 miles or so of the credit union you’d like to join.
Credit unions are an option because they also, like the online banks mentioned above, tend to offer relatively higher interest rates on their products. And so, just search Google for some credit unions in your area and check out which ones are offering the highest interest rates on their savings accounts.
Here’s a couple tips:
- Are there minimum balances required?
- Are there fees? How much are they?
If you put your money here you not only have the ability to earn a little bit of interest on that $1,000, but also access to some other financial products that the credit union offers such as loans and lines of credit.
Invest it with Wealthfront or Betterment
We’ve written before about our favorite robo-advisor before and so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see it show up again. If you have $1,000 there’s probably few better places to put it than in a new investment account with a robo-advisor. And we recommend two.
First, Wealthfront. Why Wealthfront? Well, the track record they have coupled with our own personal satisfaction with them makes this a great bet. But Betterment is also an incredible option. I have friends who use Betterment and speak so highly about it. It’s also important to note that Betterment is the fastest growing robo-advisor out there right now. So with both of these online platforms you can’t go wrong. I tested each of them extensively before settling on Wealthfront, but both have great and easy user experiences and top-notch customer service.
Be aware that unlike the above options, when you put your money with an online advisor like Wealthfront you are investing and so you do have potential for loss.
But, what’s great about robo-advisors is that you get tons of control over how much risk you want to take on. So, if you have $1,000 and you just want it kept as safe as possible then just tell Wealthfront or Betterment and they’ll invest it as safely as possible.
It’s reasonable to expect that you’ll earn between 5-7% APR with either of these options so, while a little more risky, this definitely has more upside than the first two options we’ve explored. (If you’d like to read more about Wealthfront before opening your account check out this post.)
Open an account with Wealthfront (When you use our link you will get an additional $5,000 managed for free. We will too!)
Take a Bet on Yourself
This suggestion should probably be the last suggestion. Why? Because this one, unlike all the others on this list, doesn’t depend entirely on external forces: interest rates, risk retention, markets. This suggestion can certainly be enhanced or hurt by forces that are external, but ultimately the success of putting your $1,000 here rides on something else: You.
What do I mean by take a bet on yourself?
Well, nobody else is you. What’s that mean? It means that you yourself are an incredibly rare asset. You literally are one-of-a-kind. Now, don’t laugh and write me off. Hear me out. This isn’t some type of self-help type of statement to repeat to yourself ad nauseum. Instead I want you to believe this truth:
There are things that only you can do, in ways that only you can do them, for people that only you can reach.
You literally have a way of going about the various strengths that you have that is unique and because of that you can have an audience and reach them and provide value to them. This is the beauty of the age in which we live. To start something new you don’t need huge capital, you don’t need the right degree. You can literally take your $1,000 and bet on yourself.
This doesn’t have much downside because no matter what happens you are sure to learn many valuable lessons and the upside is that maybe you create a steady side-income for yourself, or maybe even a new career path by starting a small business.
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This is exactly what my wife Jaimee did shortly after we got married. Once we got our budget in place and had a little bit of money saved she took $850 and bought her first camera. She then started Jaimee C Photography (which after many iterations is now just a business under her name: Jaimee Morse). Had Jaimee not taken that initial bet on herself our life would look really different than it does right now. She might have a 9-5. Our boys might be in daycare 5 days a week. We might not have our student loans paid off. Taking a bet on herself (by the grace of God) was the best thing she could have ever done with $1,000 and I’d encourage all of you to take the plunge as well!
Maybe start a blog about something you love (it will be way cheaper than $1,000 and allow you to do other creative marketing things), or start your business (read about how we started Jaimee’s), learn a valuable skill through Udemy. Whatever you choose, putting a $1,000 bet on yourself is something that is definitely worth a shot.
So, you’ve still got that $1,000. What are you going to do with it? We hope one of these four suggestions proves to be very beneficial to you. Whether you choose to save the money in a high interest savings account, invest it to try and get a much higher return, or take a bet on yourself and start something new, these are all better than the alternative: inaction.
Take that first small step today and put your hard work back to work for you.
One of our greatest values at This Polk Home is creating an online environment of grace, trust, and community. This will always drive the content that we produce and we want you to know that. That’s why we promise to always promote and publish content about products and services that we have created ourselves, have used, are using, and in most cases will continue using in the future. When you read a post on our blog we want you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what we’re recommending is something that we truly believe will be of value to you our readers. -The Morses