Every payday, I sit down with my online baking app, a notebook and pen, and a box of tissues for when I inevitably cry over how little spending money I’ll have once I pay my bills. That, my friends, is the dreaded experience of living paycheck to paycheck. Once my bills are paid, groceries are ordered, and I’ve transferred 10 percent over to savings, the situation looks pretty bleak. Living paycheck to paycheck has convinced me in the past that I’ll just never have enough money to do the things I want: save for retirement, travel, purchase that investment piece I’ve had my eye on for years, and of course, invest in the stock market. But that dream isn’t necessarily out of reach. It IS possible to invest in the stock market, even if your budget doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room.
Once I started using Public, an investing social network that helps you invest with tips and tricks and investing developed right into the platform, investing stopped becoming this enigmatic thing I could never do on my own and actually became manageable—no extra money required. Here’s how I’m using Public to start investing even while I’m living on a budget.
1. Buy only a portion of a share
Gone are the days where you had to drum up a large amount of money just to purchase a share at a company you were interested in investing in. Instead, Public offers fractional investing. Fractional investing is when you only buy a slice of a share instead of the entire thing. Say a share in a company is $70. Instead of investing $70, you can put in however much is available to you ($5, $10, $15) and own a portion of that share instead of the entire thing. As that company’s share goes up and down in value, your slice will reflect that based on how much you put in.
This was a game-changer for me in finally understanding how I could take part in the stock market without having a plethora of cash in my account just waiting to be invested. I can skip on a latte one morning and put that $6 toward an investment I’m intrigued about. Investing isn’t about getting rich quickly; it’s a long-game of building wealth over time and learning more about investments, which Public makes a major part of the platform and why fractional investments can be so beneficial. Just because I don’t have a full share in multiple Fortune-500 companies doesn’t mean I’m not also participating in the stock market.
2. Do your research
Like many people, I knew absolutely nothing about the stock market prior to trying Public. Zip. Zada. Zilch. But Public has in-app education for those who are new to investing, making it a solid choice for both beginners and experienced investors alike. This is where the “social networking” side of Public becomes seriously helpful. Built into the app are investors from different backgrounds with whom I can have conversations and navigate the stock market in a way that isn’t just me sitting alone with a bunch of numbers that might not make sense to me yet. Once you finally complete the hard parts about learning about investing and deciding you want to do it comes the even harder part of figuring out what to invest in. Sharing perspectives and having transparent conversations makes it so much easier to get educated around the language of investing and make decisions as I build my confidence in the stock market.
3. Zero out your bank account
When you’re creating a budget, make sure every dollar goes somewhere. Instead of having a bunch of “free” money left over once you pay bills (the approach I’ve taken for far too long), opt for a system in which everything has a place. All that extra money after your bills goes to savings, a fund for new spring clothes, getting takeout next Friday, sending your friend a gift, and of course, your investments. When everything is assigned a duty, you’ll likely notice you have a little more money in the bank than you thought (and it’s easier to skip out on impulse purchases!).
4. Use any bonuses or extra income for investments
If you receive any bonuses or extra money through work or otherwise, use that money for your investments.
If you don’t already have extra income to throw at investing, try making extra money. Do you have old clothes or furniture you could sell? Could you take up a freelance gig or start babysitting? If you need or want the extra money to supplement your 9-5, this is a great way to gradually help you build wealth over time.
5. Cut one of your expenses
We all knew this one was coming, but it’s easier than you think. Because Public offers fractional investing, you don’t have to forgo your favorite streaming service or hi-speed Internet just to make an investment; you can invest with as little as $5! This means your “expenses” could be that morning coffee run, the extra money you spend on a delivery fee when you could walk to grab something curbside, the $10 you save when you resist something in those strategically-placed checkout aisles. Before you know it, you’ll have more than enough to start building a portfolio.
6. Opt for a service without commission fees
Public makes investing much more approachable in many ways, but probably the biggest is that all standard trades have $0 commission. Think about it: you’re making a little bit of cash on a share, and when you go to withdraw it, you end up making nothing because you have to pay a commission. Major bummer. Public is commission-free on all standard trades, making that extra barrier to entry one fewer step you have to worry about.
Ready to sign up for yourself? Click here for a free slice of stock when you sign up with a new account!
Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. There may be other fees associated with trading. See Public.com/disclosures/.
This post is sponsored by Public.com, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.