6 Lazy Ways to Start Investing — Even If You Only Have $1

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Investing sounds exhausting. You have to follow the stock market and read The Wall Street Journal and watch CNBC and pretend like you care who Warren Buffett is. You have to nod knowingly when people use terms like “capital gains” and “liquidity.”

It’s all so much work. Better to blow your extra cash on new shoes or mixed drinks instead, am I right?


Here’s a secret the stockbrokers won’t tell you: Investing doesn’t have to be that much work at all. You don’t actually have to know anything — or do much at all.

6 Lazy Ways to Invest

Here’s how to invest like a pro with minimal effort: Use apps and tools that will do all the heavy lifting for you. Basically, put your investments on autopilot.

It’s not scary at all.

Here are some of our favorite lazy ways to invest…  

1. Invest Fee-Free

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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)

Low rise apartment building in Vancouver's waterfront.
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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.

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.

“I invested a couple grand, and I’ve been really pleased with the results,” said Katie Smith, a 21-year-old, who recently graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Fundrise had an average annualized return of 11.44% in 2017. Investors pay 1% in annual fees — a 0.85% asset-management fee and a 0.15% investment advisory fee.

“I can go into my Fundrise account and see what I actually own,” Smith says. “I own a piece of an apartment complex in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Property on the West Coast. Bits and pieces of apartment complexes in Texas and Denver, a construction loan, a mixed-use property.”

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

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Acorns makes it easy to invest without missing the money you set aside. It rounds up debit- or credit-card purchases to the nearest dollar and invests your digital change.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get $5 for signing up!

Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar shared her Acorns review — she saved $116 in three months, about $35 a month, by connecting one debit card to the app and forgetting about it. At that rate, you’d put away $420 a year. And if you use your credit cards more frequently, your round-ups could amount to much more.

Where does Acorns invest your money? Once you create a financial profile, Acorns uses that to build your investment portfolio, which ranges from a conservative (slower growing, lower risk) mix of government bonds to an aggressive (faster growing, higher risk) mix of stocks.

Acorns costs $1 a month for balances up to $1 million.

Another microinvesting option, 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.

Plus, Penny Hoarders get a $5 bonus to get started!

4. Get $50 to Invest in Causes You Care About

Investing can be a great way to grow your money, but have you carefully considered which companies you’re willing to back? Their morals and values? You probably wouldn’t want to invest in a company that’s destroying our oceans or cheating the system.

Impact investing is a simple fix. It adds a new layer of transparency to investing. Take Swell Investing, an SEC-registered investment adviser committed to supporting sustainable companies.

Its Impact 400 portfolio features companies whose products and services align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They consider everything from gender equality to ending poverty to clean energy.

You can start with just $50 and invest in this or other portfolios committed to clean water, zero waste, renewable energy or disease eradication, to name a few. Plus, you’ll get a $50 bonus with the code PENNY after making your initial investment.

Swell doesn’t have any trading fees, price tiers or expense ratios. It charges a 0.75% annual fee — that’s about the cost of one coffee ($3.75) per year if you invest $500.

Disclosure: We have a financial relationship with Swell Investing LLC and will be compensated if consumers apply for an account and/or fund an account with Swell through links in our content. However, the analysis and opinions expressed here are our own.

5. Support Women-Owned Businesses Without Leaving the House

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Traditional investing companies have never really considered the fact that women statistically get paid less, yet live longer. That’s why Sallie Krawcheck, a former Wall Street CEO and an adamant proponent of women’s financial power, founded Ellevest.

It’s an investing platform designed for women, by women and in support of other women. It uses a unique algorithm designed to help you better plan for the future.

Once you sign up for free, Ellevest will issue you a free personalized investment plan. Play around with the numbers. See how much you could save depending on how much you’d contribute each month.

Ellevest’s “digital” plan is designed to be accessible. There’s no minimum balance, and you’ll pay an annual fee of 0.25% of your assets under management to Ellevest. For context, that’s $25 on a $10,000 account.

6. Invest for Retirement Like a Pro

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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.

After that, if you sign up, it’s as low as $10 per month to have Blooom monitor and maximize your 401(k). Bonus: Penny Hoarders get a special rate of $99 per year with the code REEETIRE.


Let Laziness Work Its Powers

See? Investing doesn’t have to be that hard.

Because I’m lazy, I have learned to do all these things. What little I need to do I can do from my phone.

It’s that easy. With a few clicks of a mouse or a few swipes on your phone, you’re done!

You’re an investor now.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s lazy.