How to Invest even if You’re Broke

What should you invest in? How do you do it? What if you have no money?

I get a lot of questions about investing, especially when you have no money because I went from broke homeless single mother on Centrelink to multiple international award-winning CEO and I get it. It can be hard trying to do all the things and stretch the budget to do everything you ‘should’ do financially when some weeks you can’t even afford food!

Firstly, I am not a financial advisor and for this sort of matter, you really should get personal advice. In this article, I’ll share some tips to get your finances in order, suggestions for how to start investing and getting things sorted. But it is up to you to decide what is best and to seek professional advice.

How to Invest and What to Invest in

This is such a personal choice as it depends on your risk level, meaning how comfortable you are about money going up and down or potential losses. Often, the higher the risk, the higher the reward but also the losses when they happen are much harder.

Depending on your income and stage of life, what you can or should invest in will vary. Shares, superannuation, business, real estate, there’s quite a list and what works for one might not for another. If you’re broke, you’re probably going to be looking at the smaller investment options which is what I’ll focus on instead of property which requires a significant amount to get started.

The following are general suggestions. Do your own research. Set your own goals and decide on what you want to do.

This post may contain affiliate links for products and services I use. Read the full disclosure here.

Get Your Super Sorted

Superannuation is going to build throughout your working life. Why not help it along? Check your balance, the company you are through and how your money is being invested. If you have multiple accounts, consolidate them but be sure to check life insurance and other policies attached to your superannuation. You want to get the best option for your situation.

Checking your superannuation and getting it sorted is free but can have a huge difference on your finances in the long term.

Level Up Your Super

Take it a step further and make extra contributions to maximise your super. If you’re working, you can do this through salary sacrifice. As a stay at home parent, your partner can contribute to your super and get benefits for doing it.

With tax advantages to doing this, often you won’t even notice the extra sent to your super from your pay and it is so much better for your super balance. It does mean you cannot access the money until you retire but depending on your wage, you may save significantly on tax or be eligible for a co-contribution. Who wouldn’t want free money?

Micro Investing

Apps which allow you to invest small amounts have popped up. My preference is Spaceship when investing small amounts (thing $5 here and there or rounding up your bank balance when you buy something). Their fees are less and you can get a $5 Bonus for signing up with the code S81BMI9TX7

Micro investing is not necessarily the best way to invest long term but to get started and be able to invest those small amounts that might otherwise be frittered away, it can be great. I’ve played around with Raiz and Spaceship for a while now. Raiz was my first and you can get $5 by signing up here but Spaceship has lower fees.

Tips for Investing in Shares

Be aware, shares go up and down and you can lose money. Do research before investing so you know what you are investing in, what you are comfortable with and all your options.

I suggested micro investing as this allows you to dabble, see how the shares change without a huge risk or putting lots of money in one company. It’s a great way to learn but it may not make as much money as researching and investing yourself through other options.

Savings

It’s low risk but a good place to start especially if you only have a few dollars to set aside and want time to learn more about other investments. Set up a high interest savings account (I like Up Bank and you can get $5 for joining plus another $5 when you use your card 5 times. Then set up the savings account and get higher interest than most banks).

Interest rates are super low at the moment but some places such as Up offer bonus interest each month. Also, I love their little icons and how the account swishes like a wave on the app as you save more.

Business

I don’t recommend getting a loan and going out to buy a business when you are already struggling but you might be in a position to start one. There are many businesses which can be started for under $100 (read how to do that here) but it takes a lot of time and effort.

Business has been a great investment for many myself included but they can also financially ruin people if they don’t manage them well. Accounting, legal issues, insurance, website, marketing etc. There is a lot involved, if you learn and create a team over time with a clear goal to grow the business, it can work really well.

Invest In Yourself

Slightly different to investing in shares, super or savings. Investing in a course, new career or similar can pay huge dividends. Numerous courses are available online or look into volunteering in an area you want more experience in.

While studying or changing careers might be hard in the beginning, long term it is usually worth it.

Sort Your Finances

Realistically, the best thing you can do to be able to invest is get your finances sorted. This includes working out your budget and sticking to it, getting rid of debt if you have any, setting up a $2,000 emergency fund and looking for opportunities to make more money.

Get Your Budget Sorted

As boring as it sounds, budgeting doesn’t need to be restrictive or boring. It is essentially telling your money to go before it hits your account. This enables you to make better choices, automate your finances and improve your financial future.

Read how to create and stick to a budget for tips from me on setting up your budget and not overspending.

Set Up An Emergency Fund

Have $2,000 set aside in an account for emergencies. I don’t mean when you overspend or have an extra large bill. Those you can often manage by finding a way to make a little extra cash or negotiate to pay it off.

Emergencies are those things you truly don’t expect. You can plan and prepare for many emergencies (I have tips for that here) but some you just can’t.

My Emergency Fund Example

This year, we got evacuated from bushfires in Jervis Bay, followed by the death of 2 family members within 24 hours in Vanuatu requiring us to fly back. As we were leaving, Sydney was flooding causing chaos and the pandemic was just starting.

Following Vanuatu, we flew to a remote island in the Solomon Islands to sort child custody for my partner where we got locked in as we didn’t know borders were closing (hardly any reception in the outer islands). We had to find a rental, sign a lease and set aside money for repatriation if it came up.

We lost the original flights and had to pay a horrendously high amount to get on the repatriation flight. Plus arrange an exemption for my partner to enter Australia on his current visa as he’s not a citizen.

We got repatriated and had to set up from scratch here on the Sunshine Coast. While we love where we are and our life, this year cost a fortune which we could not have done without having an emergency fund.

Clear Your Debt

Debt is crushing but there is a lot you can do to clear it. This post has heaps of information plus I shared how to deal with debt collectors (my dad used to be one) to help you.

Get real about your debt, know how much you owe, what your interest rates and fees are for it. Create a plan to pay it off and start throwing everything you can at it because the sooner your debt is clear, the sooner you can invest more.

Check out how this couple I know cleared $90,000 in 12 months even though they were unemployed at the start. Or how this reader cleared $3,000 in one month.

Make More Money

In my view, you can only cut back your expenses so far but your capacity to earn more is unlimited. These days, there are so many ways to make money and many can be done at the same time.

For example, I rented a room to boarders and did Airbnb when we travelled. The garage was rented out at $50 a week (in 3 different cities), I did freelance writing, online surveys, consulting, bought things to resell and more. Check out how I made $33,277 on the side in 12 months – $4,050 of that was from a medical trial which I share my tips for here.

Online Surveys

Octopus Group is the highest paying in Australia at over $16hr. Swagbucks and PrizeRebel pay in USD which has been great for me. There’s a full list of the best Aussie ones here.

Renting Your Space

Whether it is Airbnb (check my guide here) or renting your garage on Spacer, there are so many options. Decide what works for you, what you are comfortable with and what is legally ok in your area.

Ways I’ve Made Money

I mentioned the $33,277 in 12 months. I’ve also made over $10,000 in a month buying things to resell. Freelance writing has been great for experiences as well as income. Get started with freelance writing here. Market research often pays $100 per hour.

Alternatively, check out 43 ways for single mums to make money (they are all flexible options).

Why and how do you invest?

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