Here’s How to Start Investing When You Only Have $50 to Spare

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Investing in the stock market might sound like something that only rich people do. But you can start with only $ 50 — and immediately double your money with a $ 50 match.

Swell Investing makes this super easy. You can get started online or through its app with $ 50 — the cost of a dinner for two at Olive Garden. Plus, when you invest $ 50, Swell will immediately match that with a $ 50 bonus! Just use the code PENNY after making your initial investment.

This is a much lower minimum than traditional investment companies will require for you to start investing — so you don’t have to be Warren Buffett or Thurston Howell III to become an investor with Swell.

Invest in Causes You Care About

If you’d like to be a socially conscious investor, Swell lets you support companies that share your values. Swell is an SEC-registered investment adviser with a socially responsible philosophy. It only invests in sustainable companies that are committed to solving global challenges.

With Swell, you can invest in any of seven portfolios of stocks that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Clean Water, Disease Eradication, Green Tech, Healthy Living, Renewable Energy, Zero Waste or Swell’s Impact 400.

Each thematic portfolio includes 40 to 70 companies making a positive impact in these areas. Additionally, the Impact 400 portfolio features 400 companies across multiple sectors.

You can choose a custom blend of portfolios to invest. Or, to make things even simpler, Swell has created predetermined mixes of multiple stock portfolios. The mixes have names like the Environmentalist, the Generalist and the Tech Optimist. This way, you don’t have to choose yourself how to allocate your investment from scratch.

Now, just because you’d like to save the Earth, that doesn’t mean you can’t make some money at the same time.

Swell’s website and its iOS app make it easy to track each portfolio’s performance and change in value over the past week, month, six months, year — or all the way back to Swell’s launch in 2016.

No one can ever guarantee you a certain rate of return. But historically, investing in the stock market has shown to grow your money faster than keeping it in a savings account. If you want to start saving for retirement — or just save for the future — it’s best to start growing your money as quickly as possible.

Save Money by Avoiding Sneaky Fees

Through Swell, you get to invest in companies that share your morals. You probably wouldn’t want to invest in a company that’s destroying our oceans or cheating the system. With traditional investing you might be. For example, the top five retirement funds in the U.S. support oil companies.

Swell’s fee structure is simple. It won’t change depending on the product you use or the portfolio you invest in.

For example, Swell doesn’t charge any trading fees, there are no price tiers or expense ratios, and you won’t find any other obscure fees that might catch new investors by surprise. To save you from these hassles, it simply charges a 0.75% annual fee. For example, if you invest $ 500, that’s about the cost of one latte ($ 3.75) per year.

Depending on how much you invest, you could ultimately save hundreds of dollars this way. A traditional brick-and-mortar investment firm will charge you fees based on how much stock you own, how often you trade stocks and other factors.

So, got $ 50? Bingo! Just like that, you’re a member of the investor class.

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.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Investing for Beginners (Seriously, if You Know Nothing, Start Here)

If you’ve spent so much as 10 minutes reading a personal finance blog — and clearly you have — chances are, you’ve heard that investing is one of the best ways to put your money to work for you.

The power of compound interest can turn even modest savings into an appreciable nest egg over time. And best of all, it’s passive income.

But if you’ve never put money into the stock market before, the prospect can be overwhelming. What exactly does “buying stocks” even mean? And what kind of account do you need to get started?

What Is Investing, Anyway?

Investing is a way to build wealth by purchasing assets today that you anticipate will grow in value, yielding a profit over time.

There are many different ways to invest, including purchasing tangible items (like real estate or fine art) with the intent of selling them later. But in this post, we’re going to be focusing primarily on stock market investments.

Investing for Beginners: A Quick Vocab Lesson

A collage of financial information on computer screens.

One of the first things new investors come to realize is how much lingo there is to know. It’s hard to feel confident about spending your money on stocks, bonds or mutual funds when you’re not even sure what any of those words mean!

The good news is, nobody knows what they’re talking about (or which words to use) when they’re first getting started. Here’s a quick vocabulary rundown.

Stocks

The stock market is what we call the abstract space where investors buy and sell investments. There are many different types of investments, or “assets,” you can buy and sell on the stock market.

Stocks are shares, or small pieces of asset ownership, of a company. Stockholders earn money when the company performs well and increases in value — but they’re also vulnerable to losses if things don’t go as well as hoped. Thus, stocks can be a relatively high-risk investment.

Bonds

Bonds are another common type of stock market investment, but they work differently than stocks do. Bonds are actually debts owed by corporations or, more commonly, governments.

When you purchase a bond, you’re essentially lending your money to the bond issuer. Bonds help investors earn money by accruing interest — and because bond issuers are obligated to repay their debts, they’re considered a safer investment than stocks.

What’s more, bonds are repaid after a fixed amount of time and at fixed rates (which is why they’re known as “fixed-income” assets), making them a reliable source of investment return. However, they don’t have the exponential growth potential that stocks do.

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are pre-built collections of stocks, bonds and sometimes other types of investment assets, like real estate, which are created and managed by financial professionals.

Investing in mutual funds allows individual investors to buy a diverse segment of the market without doing all the research and footwork to assess individual stocks themselves.

Index Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

These funds are similar to mutual funds in that they include a basket of different assets, but they’re not generally actively managed by a live human being. Instead, index funds are created based on a specific market index, like the S&P 500 or the Dow.

A market index is a representative collection of stocks that are used to track the performance of an area of the market.

Exchange-traded funds might be collections of companies that share industries, geographical locations or market capitalization — that is, the total dollar amount of the shares of the company available on the market.

Unlike mutual funds, they’re also traded throughout the day on the exchange, which may make them a better option for investors looking to play a more active role in their portfolios.

Investment Portfolio

Your investment portfolio is the collection of all the investments you make and keep, otherwise known as your “holdings.” For example, you may have 12 shares of Corporation X, 27 shares of Corporation Y and 17 shares of an ETF which includes stocks, bonds and real estate.

Phew! It really is a word salad, huh? Now that you’ve got a better handle on basic investing terms, let’s learn more about doing some actual investing of your own.

How to Get Started With Investing

How best to get started investing will vary depending on your personal financial goals, as well as the amount of money you can afford to put toward your growing portfolio.

But if you don’t have a whole lot of extra cash lying around, don’t worry; there are many ways into the world of investing, even if your initial investment is only $ 100 (or less!).

Saving for Retirement

Aside from building wealth in general, one of the most common investing goals is to save for retirement. If that goal’s on your list, you’ve got lots of investment vehicles to choose from.

For example, if your employer offers a 401(k), contributing part of your wages to that company-sponsored retirement account is a way to get started investing. And if your benefits package includes an employer match, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of that — it’s free money!

Depending on your plan, you may have just a few curated investment options to choose from or access to a wide variety. (Psst — we’ll talk more about some basic investment skills in a second, so don’t hit that “buy” button just yet!)

Types of Investment Accounts

Even if you don’t have access to a 401(k), you can open a retirement plan like a traditional or Roth IRA — that is, individual retirement account.

These are investment accounts designed specifically for retirement, which are governed by special rules and tax incentives. For instance, contributions to a traditional IRA are taken pretax today, but they’re later taxed upon withdrawal; Roth IRA contributions are taxed now but grow tax-free.

And in both cases, it’s not as simple as pulling your money out whenever you want; except in specified circumstances, you’ll need to wait until you reach age 59 1/2 to fully access that money.

IRAs are available through a huge range of financial firms, from nationwide banks like Chase to brokerage firms like TD Ameritrade. Financial companies like these may also offer brokerage accounts, which aren’t subject to the same special rules and regulations as investment vehicles built specifically for retirement.

A brokerage account allows you access to a trading interface where you can purchase individual stocks, bonds or ETFs, creating your own portfolio from scratch. But if you’re not feeling up to DIYing your investments, you can also use a robo-advisor, like Ellevest, which will allocate your assets for you.

Apps, ETFs and Automatic Contributions

A phone displays a money saving app.

Only have a few bucks to spare? Apps like Stash and Acorns make it easier than ever to get started investing with as little as $ 5, and they offer curated ETFs to help you diversify your holdings.

You can also set up regular, automatic contributions, which will fuel your portfolio’s growth over time.

Basic Investing Strategies to Know Before You Go

Now that you’re versed in the lingo and you’ve got the lowdown on a few accessible investment options, there are just a few more things you need to know before you take the next step and become an investor yourself.

Since all investments involve some risk, it’s imperative to be prepared and informed on how to best mitigate those risks ahead of time.

Don’t Overcommit

Perhaps the most important investment strategy is one you’ve doubtless heard before: diversification. Diversifying your portfolio means purchasing a wide range of assets, including different types of holdings and different issuers.

Why is diversification so important? Well, it’s just like that old saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket. If you drop that over-laden basket and don’t have any other eggs in reserve, you’re in a messy situation.

Similarly, when market values fall, your portfolio will have a lot more margin for error if you’ve got a variety of holdings. If one of the companies you own stock in goes under, for instance, you won’t be entirely sunk if you own shares of other firms — and some government bonds, for good measure.

Diversification is one of the reasons mutual funds, index funds and ETFs are so popular among new investors.

However, some of these funds do come at an additional cost — particularly mutual funds, which are actively managed by a financial professional. That’s why it’s important to check out the expense ratios before making your purchase decision, especially if you don’t have a lot of investment capital to work with.

Do Your Homework

No matter what types of investments you’re most interested in owning or how you go about getting started, research the assets you’re considering, keeping both historical performance of interest rates and current events in mind. You might even consider hiring a financial advisor to help you make your decisions.

Although no investment is a sure thing, putting your money in the market feels a lot less like a harebrained bet when you have evidence and reason behind your choices. Investment advisors can help you assess your risk tolerance and make more informed investment decisions.

Keep Calm When the Market Gets Rough

And finally, keep in mind that investing is a long game, and market fluctuations are an everyday reality. Although it can be tempting to rip your money out of the market as soon as you see a scary headline, if you diversify your holdings and sit tight through the lean times, the market usually corrects itself.

Even taking major recessions into account, the market’s overall growth curve is historically positive — and stashing your cash under the mattress (or even in a traditional savings account) can’t come close to the earnings you can glean through compound interest.

Good luck, new investor!

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Here’s Why Black Investors Should Consider Investing in Commercial Real Estate

Investing in commercial real estate can be confusing to new investorsdizzying numbers and jargon can make investors wary. However, investing in commercial real estate is actually easier than you think—and the perks are great to boot. Sound income potential, solid stability, and downside protection against market volatility are some of those perks.

Investing in Commercial Real Estate Doesn’t Require You to Be an Expert

Investing in real estate doesn’t demand you be an expert in real estate This is where sponsors come in. And no, a sponsor isn’t an advertiser. A sponsor is an asset operator who syndicates the funds and makes the deal happen.The sponsor handles anything from funding to managing the investment. They manage the asset. You collect the income.

 

Commercial Real Estate is a Long-Term Investment

Another upside to investing in commercial real estate is its long-term focus. It protects your downside and is engineered to collect big returns over time. On the flip side, if you’re just looking to make quick buck, real estate might not be the right investment space for you. Plus your money’s locked up for a pre-set contractual period — you can’t just cash out anytime you want.

Crowdfunding Allows Everyday Folks to Own Commercial Property for Under $ 1000

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, signed in 2012, allows everyday investors to own a piece of assets such as the World Trade Center through real estate crowdfunding. There are tons of online marketplaces that give you access to syndicated deals. And if you’re not into that? Well, there’s always REITs.

A version of this story appeared on WealthLAB.

The post Here’s Why Black Investors Should Consider Investing in Commercial Real Estate appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Why Investing in Black Women’s Art is a Power Move

The social climate has always impacted the art world. Currently, women’s issues are at the forefront of politics and social justice; in turn, the art industry is affected—particularly its women. Research conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts found women artists, who account for 51% of all visual artists, make only $ 0.81 to every dollar earned by their male counterparts. This data matches, eerily, the national gender wage gap reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and speaks sorely to the sign of the times.

However, on the flip side of grossing significantly less than men, women are having a profound influence on art sales, breaking records now more than ever. According to the New York Times, “last spring in New York, auction sales records were shattered for the works of 15 female artists.” Among them, artist Cecily Brown’s sale topped the bunch at $ 6.6 million. Of the group, only two women were black—Lorna Simpson and Xaviera Simmons—whose sales came in unsurprisingly lower at $ 350,000 and about $ 30,000.

black women artists

Xaviera Simmons, “A Country Built On Free Labor.’ Print (sothebys.com)

 

But even a few black women realizing success at the auction level is a major inspiration for others.

“I celebrated when I read that Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s portraits of black figures sold for a total of $ 2.5 million last year and Njideka Akunyili Crosby reached $ 3.4 million earlier this year,” expresses Tracy Murrell, an Atlanta-based artist. “I am a huge fan of both artists and to see the work of black bodies by black female artists at that level of the art world is symbolic validation that there is a place in the high-end art world for what I create.”

Traditionally, a lofty auction sale results in an increase of value for a given artists’ work and their visibility as well as the opportunity to exhibit in art institutions and become part of their collection. So  this news should have a trickle-down effect: recognition and an uptick in sales for other women artists. At least that is how it worked for white male artists throughout history. However, along with gender disparity, race disparity is reflected in the art market.

Artnet performed an analysis which explores how African American artists fare financially at auctions using the volume of sales. It was discovered black art sales at auctions are on the rise, yet “of the contemporary American artists selling for over a million dollars at auction, a mere one-tenth are black,” and of the top 100, only two are women—Kara Walker and Mickalene Thomas.

The upside is that the disparity makes it a good time to consider a serious investment in women’s art— and particularly black women’s art.

black women artists

Lorna Simpson, ‘Ultra Blue.’ Mixed Media (mutualart.com)

 

This is where art collectors and enthusiasts can effect change. Aside from the personal financial gains, investing in black art establishes greater market value for an otherwise underrecognized demographic and contributes to the black economy. Lauren Harris, gallery manager and curator for Zucot Gallery explains:

“Investing in art created by black women is something we all should be doing. There are two main reasons: our narratives and our worth.”

“In my 10 years of being in the art world, black women have had the truest and most unapologetic voice personified in their art,” Harris says. “From Lorna Simpson to Kara Walker and more recently Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Simone Leigh, black female artists break the mold, driving ‘cultural shifts’ in the market.”

If you’ve been considering investing in art created by black women, Harris suggests the timing is right:

“Now that artwork by black women are ‘trending’ in the mainstream art world due to high sales at auctions and acquisitions by notable collectors, there can come a time when their work is less attainable. The same way Amy Sherald shot to fame after being revealed as the artist behind former FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s portrait for the National Portrait Gallery, can apply to the many working professional black female artists from all over.”

Harris warns: “Invest now, so you won’t be sorry later.”

The value of art is typically stable; the average annual return on art investments is +7.6%, according to Artprice. And if that doesn’t get your coins twerking, check these five black women artists for motivation:

black women artists

Samella Lewis, ‘Field Hand.’ Watercolor on paper (Pinterest)

 

black women artists

Beverly Buchanan, To ‘Prudence Lopp,’ Mixed Media (nyartbeat.com)

 

black women artists

Tamara Madden, ‘Vanquisher,’ Acrylic on canvas (Pinterest)

 

black women artists

Tracy Murrell, ‘For Sloan,’ Mixed Media (tracymurrell.com)

 

black women artists

Deborah Roberts, ‘Not on me,’ Collage (deborahrobertsart.com)

 

black women artists

Harmonia Rosales, ‘The Virgin,’ Mixed Media (harmoniarosales.com)

Harmonia Rosales, ‘The Virgin,’ Mixed Media

On Thursday, Oct. 4, Swann Gallery, which is one of the only major auction houses for African American artwork, is holding their autumn auction. This is a fine time to get in on investing in fine art from artists ranging from Thelma Johnson Streat to Elizabeth Catlett. Bidding starts at 2:30 p.m. ET. You can attend in-person or livestream on the gallery’s website.

The post Why Investing in Black Women’s Art is a Power Move appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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