This is actually a very common question: How do I invest with only twenty dollars to spare each month?
It was most recently asked by Jacqueline Robinson of TX in response to a US News article that I contributed to:
Basically, I would have to put back pennies at a time and hope that one day it will add up to a nice saving for me in the future. Ok, yes I would like to have that special person to come onto my job at Sobway and say, I read your story on the us news and how I feel that this money would benefit you more than it would me at the moment, or that you are the lucky winner today. Well, that would be living in a fantasy world, so if I could get some good, strong suggestions on how to save money and invest at the same time for my future I would leave El Centro College in Dallas TX with a smile on my face.
Well, Jacqui, I’m certainly not going to come into your ‘Sobway’ for a sandwich and write you a check for $150,000 as a ‘tip’ as you will no doubt lose it pretty quickly because you need to first learn the lessons of money before you make your money so that you can keep your money 😉
The question is normally asked in a manner that suggests: “$20 is such a small amount, what possible difference can it make if I save it instead of spend it?”
Well, in some respects I understand the ‘losing attitude’ because even if you faithfully save $20 each month and somehow manage to match the 30 year ‘guaranteed’ stock market return of 8.5% compound (ignoring fees), after 30 years Jacqui will have saved less than $30,000 (which is worth less than $9,000 in today’s money if inflation averages just 4%).
But, Jacqui will no doubt be receiving better and better jobs and at least increasing the $20 monthly savings with inflation (won’t you, Jacqui?), so she should end up with something approaching $45,000 (or, less than $14,000 after inflation) …
… so, I share her implied pain.
But, with $20 a month you can rent a stall at a market and sell on consignment seconds from local manufacturers (that means that local manufacturers will gladly let you have a bit of their not-quite-right stock on ‘loan’ until you can sell it and pay them a pretty cheap price) … or, one of a hundred other ‘micro businesses‘ that require little to no start-up funds.
With the couple of hundred dollars a month that you might make from that activity, you might be able to build up a ‘nest egg’ 10 times larger than before …
… better yet (because, who can live the rest of their lives off the equivalent of $140,000 after inflation … total?!) use that money to gain a higher education and/or start an internet-based business that might make you an extra few hundred dollars a month.
With, say, an extra $700 a month you could ‘retire’ after 30 years with the princely sum of $450,000 (in today’s ‘after inflation’ dollars) or use that few extra hundred dollars a month to start a ‘real’ business … one that can …
… well, you know the rest: it’s how I went from $30k in debt to over $7 million in the bank in just 7 years.
Jacqui, you’re already $30k – and, $20 a month – better off than I was when I started my journey, so suck it up and get to it! 🙂