Bootstrapping: 4 Easy Ways to Start Investing for Extra Cash

Financial experts diversify their portfolios. Besides stocks and bonds, they invest in tangible assets like real estate that can produce income and grow in value over time.

1. Invest Fee-Free

The Robinhood app is best known for having no trading fees. You can buy and sell stocks on U.S. exchanges without paying a commission, and you’ll pay no account maintenance fees. Plus, Robinhood gives you a free share of stock when you sign up (you’ll randomly be given a share of GE, Ford, Snapchat, Apple, Facebook, or Berkshire Hathaway). 

In keeping with its stripped-down approach, Robinhood doesn’t offer investment research or advice on your portfolio. This is the least lazy way to invest that’s included on this list — but probably the easiest way to invest if you want to choose the stocks yourself. If you want to try out investing in specific stocks, you can learn about it through the app, avoid paying fees and never leave the house.

2. Invest in Real Estate (No, You Don’t Need Millions)

You can get started investing in real estate with as little as $500. Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money gets invested in private real estate around the United States. The company does all the heavy lifting for you.

3. Invest Your Digital Change (and a Free $5)

Stash, lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000. You can set it up to pull a specific sum of money from your bank account at regular intervals, so you can grow your investments over time. Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money. But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

4. Invest for Retirement Like a Pro

The biggest investment of your life is your retirement fund. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you should make the most of it. However, most of us pretty much ignore our 401(k) accounts after setting them up, studies show. You should actually make periodic adjustments as your retirement funds grow. To make that easier, we recommend checking out a robo-adviser called Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

It just takes a few minutes to get a free 401(k) analysis that will show you whether your investments are allocated properly and whether you’re losing money paying hidden investment fees. It’ll even tell you just how much more money your account could earn by the time you want to retire.