Presented in partnership with Acorns Australia
There is no shortage of guides out in the world that tell you how to invest large sums of money that you already have, and for those without much to spare it can be frustrating. This investment fund needs a five grand minimum, that property needs a 10% deposit - you get the picture. But where do you start if you don't have a great deal of money set aside? Here's how to save and invest when you've got no money.
Carving off large chunks of your income can leave your wallet feeling the pinch, and in many cases, individuals can't afford to do so while paying bills and expenses. Acorns is a brilliant app recently launched in Sydney (they already have 1.2m users in the States) that turns your everyday purchases into a chance to save money without leaving yourself short on dough.
The app has the ability to round up your purchases - so if a bag of chips cost you $1.59, Acorns will round up that transaction to an even $2, and invest that extra 41c in your own personal index fund via the "Round Ups" feature. You also have the ability to schedule small deposits at set time periods, or to deposit lump sums if you happen to come into some money. The app ensures that you always have power over how and when you save, which takes the pain out of the savings process. With your money safely in your Acorns account, you also won't be tempted to dip into it for a night at the bar or an outing with friends - a problem that often occurs when people try to save money in a physical container or hideaway. You'll also get $2.50 cash for each friend you refer that signs up as well!
Turn To the Computer
You've probably heard that all those "work from home" types of opportunities are scams. Honestly, the vast majority of them are, but there are a few exceptions that can end up being very lucrative for you. Sites like Fiverr.com let you use skills ranging from graphic design to offering voiceovers in your unique accent for use worldwide for a few dollars a job. It might not seem like much, but it definitely adds up over time. If you're stuck in the house a great deal, or have a bit of spare time to kill between classes, look to "microtask" sites like OneSpace or CrowdFlower to help pass the time and earn a small yet steady flow of income.
Look To Your Mobile Phone
You've always got your mobile phone nearby for texting, browsing the internet and looking at social media, so why not use it to make money too? While there are the ever-present surveys to take through apps and loyalty purchase programs for the things you're likely to buy on mobile anyway, there are also jobs to do. Apps like Field Agent task members with small, easy-to-do jobs like taking pictures of displays in nearby stores. Other apps like Sydney-based AirTasker put you in touch with actual local people and businesses that need services like picture hanging, tidying up their homes and similar projects. The key to using this tip is to check the apps frequently, several times a day if possible, as jobs are in high demand and are often claimed very quickly.
Sell What You Don't Need
Unless you've really pared down your belongings, chances are there are a few nice shirts lurking in your closet that just don't fit anymore, or perhaps an old gift hamper had something in it that you'd never use. Use services like eBay or Facebook's newly launched Marketplace to list these items; take photos with your mobile phone and make sure you have a nice clean white background to keep the focus on your item. If you have larger goods, such as furniture, a local trade website like Gumtree will help you find neighbours that will pay you on the spot and take away large, bulky items that can't otherwise be sold easily online.
Go In With Friends
If you've noticed that your friends are short on money as well, think about some things you can use group buying power for to help keep costs down. You'll all use household goods like toilet paper, for example, which means you can easily buy larger packages to spend a lot less per roll. Certain food, especially meat, is typically cheaper in bulk - agree on a cut and size you're all interested in and ask your local butcher about bulk pricing. The key to this saving tip is planning and agreement - make sure you all discuss what you need and what you're willing to pay before committing at the store. Hard feelings among friends aren't worth saving a few bucks!
When you earn more and save more through smart planning and using the assets you have right now, you don't need to have a ton of cheddar to set aside a healthy amount of savings. If you're diligent about using these tips to better your financial future, you'll quickly go from barely paying your bills to a comfortable, sustainable lifestyle with a lot less stress.