A question I am often asked is:
“How do I invest small amounts of money and make a LOT of money?” I always smile and say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy?” Investing money for high-yield returns usually requires significant research, due diligence, resources and capital. Some (or all) are often outside the reach of us mere mortals.
So, what should you do when you have a few extra hundred dollars or maybe even a couple of thousand dollars? I recommend that people go through a 4-tier investment waterfall. This methodology applies to both personal balance sheets and small business balance sheets.
The easiest way to earn money is to stop spending money. Evaluate outstanding debt and determine which debt bears the highest interest/cost structure. By utilizing excess cash to pay down high cost debt (I usually don’t include mortgages in this analysis), you accomplish three goals.
Ensure you have at least a 90-day rainy day fund. You should aim to have 6 months of living expenses in an interest-yielding savings account that is liquid, in the event you’re hit with one of life’s challenges. The last thing you want in an economic downturn is to find you not only lost employment/your business had cashflow shortages, the market value of your investments also suffered a serious blow at the exact time you need their liquidity to deal with the life event.
Every employee and/or business owner should aggressively fund the ultimate insurance policy. The great thing about the human spirit is our incredible ability to be optimistic about our future; however, one should not count on optimism being the sole source of future financial stability. These accounts can be invested in a multitude of ways and earn tax-deferred returns (you get to invest your money and the tax man’s money, earning a return with no taxes due until you start to take distributions out of your retirement account). This tax-deferred investment vehicle, depending on your tax bracket, can generate substantially greater returns than traditional investments in the after-tax market. Maximize your retirement contributions as much as you can.
If you cleared the first three tiers, you have done a great job putting your personal business capital to work, establishing a short-term rainy day fund, and are appropriately funding your future financial stability. You are now in a position to go into the market and make small investments. The two critical areas I ask all individuals to assess are how much time do you have, and what level of experience evaluating investments do you have? If either one of those is limited, I encourage them to open simple brokerage accounts and invest in diversified mutual funds with low-cost fee structures. You can ask your brokerage for recommendations, or there are many lists like this one that identify low-cost funds.
David Kilby has been president of FinFit since it was founded in 2008. He has grown the company from a single idea into the nation’s leading Financial Wellness Benefit platform, servicing over 150,000 clients. Prior to FinFit, David led a multimillion dollar financial holding company where he was inspired to find ways to help employees improve their financial health. He is committed to helping employees succeed today, and prepare to live healthier, more productive, financially stable lives.
Get in touch with him – he’d love to talk to you about your company, your employees and how he can help.