Odds are if you are struggling to pay the bills and living paycheck to paycheck, in poverty or a on strict budget, investing your hard-earned dollars might be the last on your priority list. But it is important to do, and read financial literacy tips below how you can start to save and invest for the future, even if your household has a limited income. Low income or struggling families can even get started with a single dollar, and some free investment apps have “round up” components as well for investing spare change.
There are free apps and other technology tools that can help people, whether low or moderate income, save and invest their hard earned money into the markets as part of improving financial literacy. As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money, is also true for people with lower incomes or anyone on a tight budget. Anyone can come up with a dollar or more to start to save and invest. Find various tips on investing with little money.
The challenge is as much as you want to invest, save, or build a retirement fund, there isn’t enough money left over to contribute to your investment account. This is the biggest challenge for struggling families and those living on minimum wage or low income. However the apps can do things such as allow you to invest literally “pennies” or a couple dollars each month to get started.
Many people are hesitant when it comes to investing since there is a possibility of losing money, a potential market decline or crash, no guaranteed return and inflation risks. On the other hand, not investing your money will make you to pass up on incredible opportunities, with possible mid to big dollar signs attached that can allow you to escape poverty, gaining financial independence and maybe living a comfortable life. Of course low income families also need to invest for retirement as well.
If done correctly, the return on your investments can help you reach financial goals- such as buying a car, buying a home, continuing your education, starting a business or even putting your kids through college. investing can also help to secure a comfortable retirement, and you can start with small dollar amounts. Even learn how to invest $1 a day to become a millionaire.
Some might believe that investing requires a large amount of money, time and extensive knowledge on managing a portfolio and financial strategy, which can true. But many of these apps and investing tolls work around those challenges. As fortunately, there are a growing number of full- service brokerages for beginner investors to get started on investing and getting involved in the stock market.
Below, you will find an overview of popular investment and stock trading apps as well as platforms including their cost, how they work, and their unique feature. The reviews of this financial literacy tools for the low income can help you select one that best works with your finances and investment goals and that won’t break your budget. If you pay yourself first to save money, you can get started investing for very little money.
Free apps or websites to help low income households save and invest
Robinhood – An investing platform that allows you to buy and sell stocks, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrencies. Robinhood provides everyone with access to the financial market FREE of cost and encourages people of all income levels to participate in their financial system. It is also a great free investment tool for low income families as well as millennials.
The Robinhood App is user-friendly and approachable for newcomers and experts and even the undereducated or immigrants. Robinhood is available on desktop and phone. Getting started is very simple. Users must be 18 years or older, have a valid social security number, be U.S citizen or permanent resident and a legal U.S residential address. All Robinhood applications are subject to review and verification of personal information. If documents are correct, applicants will receive a confirmation approval email within one trading day.
- Commission-free: No fees involved.
- Instant Account: Deposit funds to your Robinhood account and start trading. Deposits over $1,000 will be cleared within 4-5 days, but a low income or struggling family can start with much smaller dollar amounts.
- Free Cryptocurrency Investing- including Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin with real market data.
- Free Options Investing- No buy or sell fees.
- Robinhood Gold: Starting at $10 per month, unlock more benefits such as extended trading hours, immediate access to larger deposits and additional buying power.
- FREE stock: Invite your friends to sign up, and you both can earn a free stock, which is randomly selected from the inventory. You can win up to $500 in free stocks, depending on how many of your friends sign up.
Acorns: An automatic, micro-investing platform that allows you to invest your spare change to build wealth as part of building financial literacy. Without making significant changes to your lifestyle, you can get started by investing as little as $5 anytime or on a recurring basis, or start with a single dollar! This is great for people living paycheck to paycheck. Acorns is divided into three accounts with different features.
- Acorns Core: For $1 per month, you can invest your spare change from everyday purchases. This plan includes automatic investing, a portfolio, free access to GROW magazine, 200+ brands that will automatically invest in your account whenever you make a purchase. This plan is free for all college students as well.
- Acorns Core + Acorns Later: An easy way to save for retirement for just $2 per month. Acorns will automatically select an IRA plan that works best for your goals and lifestyle.
- 1.Acorns Core + Acorns Later +Acorns Spend- For $3 per month, this plan includes automatic investing, retirement plan and a checking account to help you save money on shopping. With this plan, you will have access to a checking account and a debit card with no minimum balance or overdraft fees. Acorns debit card allows you to save, invest and earns for you at the same time. This debit card may also be used as a banking alternative with mobile check deposit, check sending, free bank-to-bank transfer, digital direct deposit, and no ATM’s fees nationwide.
Stash – A micro-investing app to help Americans invest, save and learn about financial literacy. Stash is best suitable for those with an eagerness to become confident investors and to save money. By using the Stash app, Americans (including many working poor families) have saved an average of almost $1500 per year. Over 2 million people are saving and investing on Stash, including hundreds of thousands of low income families. According to a recent survey, Stash clients are 25% more financially literate than the general U.S population. Become an investor for just $5.
- Stash Invest: Get a personal investment account for $1 per month and get a Stash Coach that give personalized guidance, education for beginner investors with up to date information to help you gain knowledge and auto-stash with consistent investing to help you hit goals and build wealth over time.
- Stash Retirement: Use the Stash App to help save for retirement. Stash offers two types of retirement accounts, Roth and Traditional. These retirement accounts have tax benefits and can help to lower your tax bill.
- Stash Banking: Stash offers a free bank account that is designed for investors, with no minimum balance or overdraft fees. A Stash debit card will give you access to over 19,000 fee-free ATMs around the U.S. You can deposit cash to your Stash debit through your linked bank account, direct deposit or any participating Walgreens, Rite Aid, or CVS pharmacy.
- Faster Paycheck: Get access to your paycheck two days before payday with Stash ASAP Direct Deposit feature.
- Stash Cash-Back: Become a smart shopper and link up to three credit or debit card in the Stash App and earn cash back at participating stores. There are no coupons, promo codes or redemption needed- just use any card at checkout that is linked to your Stash account and earn cash back with no effort. Your Cash Back can be used to invest or cash-out on a monthly basis with no hidden fees.
- Invest In Children- Open a custodial investing account for anyone under 18 and invest their future. Anyone can open a custodial account to help teach a child about investing as well as financial literacy, and the Stash Academy is designed for that purpose to make learning fun with financial activities. Instead of buying toys, you can contribute to a child’s Stash account and help them to grow their money. Funds make a difference by helping them to buy their first car, pay for college or first apartment. Or learn about other financial literacy resources for children.
Stockpile: An easy to use platform that allows you to buy stocks for yourself or gifting stocks to young children, friends, and family. This platform is perfect for low-income families with an interest in the stock market. If you cannot afford to pay full price for a stock, you can buy 0.1 shares of a stock.
Stockpiles offer two accounts– individual account or a Custodial Stockpile account for a minor. Both accounts require you to be 18 or older, U.S citizen or permanent resident, a valid Social security number and a legal U.S residential address. There are no monthly fees, only $0.99 to trade a stock.
- Gifting: Stockpile offers a fun hassle-free way to give the gift of stock to others. You can purchase stocks in over 1,000 companies and ETF’s. Gift cards can send as digital or physical.
- Stockpile selection: Over 1,000 options, including Wegmans, Target, Kmart, and others to choose from.
- Suitable for Beginners: Investing in the stock market can be overwhelming to new investors. Stockpile has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for beginners to get started with the stock market investing.
Coinbase: A digital currency platform where merchants and customers can buy and trade digital currencies including Bitcoin. Coinbase allows you to create a digital cryptocurrency portfolio, which tends to be more complicated and clients should be sure they want to do this. Coinbase users can buy, sell, trade and store their digital currency safely and securely in a wallet. It is the most trusted platform for exchanges of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.
- Web and mobile wallet services.
- Multi-security options to prevent unapproved manipulation of funds.
- Instant transfer to other Coinbase users.
- User- friendly interface: One of the most comfortable places to buy, sell and trade bitcoin.
Wealthfront: A personalized financial software that helps you to build long term wealth, investing and borrowing. The app can also help families, including low income ones, learn about financial literacy. Wealthfront is designed explicitly for millennials and beginners who are looking for personal investment advice.
Wealthfront is a secure and organized platform that allows users to manage their accounts digitally, with low fees and minimal investment requirement. Wealthfront works by analyzing your finance, spending habits and aspirations. Then, provides recommendations on how much you should be saving to reach financial goals, paying off debt or retirement.
The Wealthfront app will recommend the right investment account that is best suited to help meet your financial goals with suggested deposit amount. There is an annual advisory fee of 0.25% on assets greater than $10,000. All fees are waived if your balance is between $500- $10,000.
Home Planning: Wealthfront will analyze your finance and will recommend a budget to help you stay on track. In addition to that, you will also receive real-time home prices through their Redfin integration, along with mortgage estimate, homeowner insurance, closing cost, and other expenses when it comes to owning a home.
- Retirement: Wealthfront offers an all-in-one planning that will make retirement stress-free and enjoyable. Depending on your financial situation, you will receive recommendations for Roth IRA and traditional retirement account,401(k) rollover, SEP IRA for business owners/ self-employed and investment accounts for additional savings in the future. Users may also transfer their outside retirement account to Wealthfront tax-free.
- Travel Affordability: Get financial advice on planning your dream trip.
- Passive Investing: Build a diverse portfolio with low taxes and costs. Wealthfront offers many accounts types to save and invest in, such as retirement (401(k), Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Traditional IRA), 529 college savings account for your children, and individual, joint, and Trust accounts. Every account on Wealthfront comes with a personalized financial advisory tool.
Coinseed– An Android and iOS app that converts your spare change into digital currencies. Coinseed is a fun, micro-investing and cryptocurrency trading app. This app allows you to build a portfolio and recurring investments.
- Crypto Cash Back: Earn Crypto Cash Back whenever you shop at Amazon, eBay, Walgreens, Walmart, Starbucks, Uber, and other brands. Link your card, shop at your favorite brands and Coinseed will credit your account with cash back. Users can invest their cryptocurrencies or make a withdrawal request to transfer USD conversion amount to their bank account.
- Round-Ups- Invest your spare change from purchases. This can be great for families on a budget, without a lot of income, to get started investing.
- Weekly Tournament: Enter into a trading tournament and win big cash prizes. Beginners can enter into ‘play mode’ to practice their skills before risking real money. It is a great, fun activity for kids or the family. Find other lists of free financial literacy games.
- Social Network: Exchange ideas and learn from other investors.
Schwab: Founded by Charles Schwab, an Investor, and CEO of a brokerage firm in California. Schwab offers a modern approach to retirement and investing. Schwab was selected as one of the top 50 World’s Most Admired Companies and it is often ranked #1 for innovation in financial literacy as well as asset management. They are a discount brokerage for low income households as well.
- Accounts: Schwab offers all types of accounts- including retirement, education savings, Trust/estate/Charitable accounts, brokerage and trading accounts and personal choice accounts.
- Unlimited Support: For help, questions or concern, you may contact their 24/7 customer support via phone or online chat. You will also have access to a Trading and Investing specialist or a visit Schwab brokerage branch, that is available in every city.
- Investment opportunities: Schwab provides a wide selection of investment accounts and products to reach your goals. Get access to thousands of mutual funds, build a diversified portfolio and the option to generate a stream of income and tools to protect your assets.
- Trading: Trade stocks, ETFs, and Options & Futures with Schwab, even after trading hours. Get access to real-market data, powerful trading tools, trade ideas, education resources to sharpen trading skills and 24/7 expert guidance from a trading specialist.
- Schwab Research and Tools: Get access to advance research and insights on market updates, stocks, bonds and fixed income and other informative research analysis to help you make the best financial decision.
- Schwab Mobile App: Available on Apple watch, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Deposit checks with the Schwab mobile app and free access to live streaming update of the market on your mobile device. Schwab app also allows you to manage your accounts and bill payments.
- Schwab Banking: Open a Schwab investor checking, and savings account to manage your finances, with no ATM-fees nationwide or monthly service fees. With a Schwab Banking account, you will receive free standard checks, Platinum Debit Card, Budgeting Tips and Schwab Bank Visa Card.
Anyone, including people living check to check, can use these free apps for investing
Regardless of your education level, income, or life circumstances, investing and improving financial literacy skills is now easier than ever, and it is accessible to everyone. Today, you can even use your spare change to invest to increase and grow your money. Investment ensures long term financial security.
There are many easy-to-apps and platforms to help you get started with investing. Whether if you are a college student, a low income family, a single parent or someone that wants to build wealth to achieve financial freedom in the future– these ‘spare change’ and stock trading apps are useful to start saving and increasing your money. The Savings can be also ‘cashed-out’ at any moment and can be used as an emergency fund, to pay off debt or even save for retirement.
By Jon McNamara