Best Ways To Invest Small Amounts of Money

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-11-0522

Investing simply means putting your money to good use with the expectation that you’ll receive a return or reward for doing so.

A lot of us don’t have much money to spare. Sometimes you may find yourself with an extra $100; maybe someone finally paid you back for a long-forgotten debt (it’s happened to me!) or your mom sent you over a cash gift for your birthday. Or chances are, it’s just an extra $100 rattling around in your bank account that could find better use somewhere else.

A few days ago, I published a guest post on where to invest extra cash and savings. Well that post inspired me to reflect on how I’d personally make use of a little extra money.

Got $100? Best Ways To Invest Small Amounts of Money

1. Set up an automatic investment program.
I started an automatic investment program at a discount broker around a couple of decades ago. If my memory serves me right, I committed to placing $50 a month in a few mutual funds that represented diversified asset classes. I figured that I could afford to spare at least $50 a month on building a portfolio, and I found the process of choosing funds, deciding my allocation and finally starting an investment program pretty fulfilling.

one hundred dollars

While I’m not totally sure how much I’ve put into my investments through the years, I do know that my net worth has grown over a hundred times since I started investing. A lot of this I’d attribute to just “automated investing and saving”. This is something you can definitely do yourself by contacting online brokers, mutual fund companies and banks, and then setting up such programs at these institutions.

If you’re thinking of opening a new investment account, be sure to check out our investment brokerage section.

2. Invest in yourself.
Here’s one more way I’d gladly spend $100: on myself. Of course, our opinions of “how to spend on oneself” can all vary greatly. You may think of investing in yourself as spending to improve your health, your looks or your well being, which are all quite important to maintain your happiness and health. But what I mean here is that I would use $100 to invest in my “money generating” potential. For instance, investing in one’s education or in trying to improve your finances through personal finance classes or seminars would be money well spent.

3. Invest in a small business.
While I started an online business pretty much by accident, I realize now that if I had actually planned to become an entrepreneur, I would have looked into which businesses had the smallest outlay while promising to yield some reasonable returns down the road. Interestingly, there are still great ideas out there that you can pursue for a mere $100. Here’s a tip: online business ideas are notoriously cheap to start.

For instance, you can try to make money blogging. The stories of many bloggers (including my own) are testaments to how this can be done. I actually spent $0 when I first started blogging. It’s been several years now and my hobby has evolved into an online business: I got a few domains, hunted for the best web host and invested in a web design. The rest is sweat equity. The good news is that it took me 1.5 years to take the leap and quit my day job, and I’ve been blogging full time now for another 1.5 years. That’s 3 years as an accidental online entrepreneur and it’s been a fun and rewarding ride.

In addition, this change also spurred a lifestyle change for me which improved my health tremendously. All these results for less than $100!

4. Pay down your bad debt.
If you are carrying any amount of bad debt — whether it be credit card debt or other installment loans, you should funnel any extra money you have towards these obligations. Paying down debt which charges you X% in interest is like “earning” X% interest on that money you apply to the debt. If you carry a credit card balance, tossing $100 at it is always a fantastic idea.

These are some of my favorite $100 investment ideas. I’d love to find out how you’d spend, use or invest $100. If you’ve got some great ideas on where you’d invest small amounts of money, please feel free to share!

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler Dalley November 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I would deposit it in my simply free checking account where it would earn 4%APY until I had enough to buy a vehicle at a deep discount auction or craigslist, fix it up and bring it up to it’s full potential, and resell it for 10% – 50% return.


I’d deposit it in the same checking acct. and wait for a storage unit auction, where entire units are liquidated for $200 or so You must clear out the unit that day. I would then resell everything one item at a time on ebay or craigslist. Can easily earn 100% returns in 2 weeks or so.

I’d keep spending my earned money on things for pennies on the dollar until I can afford an investment property that cash flows every month with out the need of profitable hobbies. And then I’d sail from Hawaii to SE Asia and live like a king from my one rental earning me passive income of only $200 a month because the magical exchange rates.

Michael Harr @ Wealth...Uncomplicated November 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm

@SVB – love the post. For small amounts of money, I think it’s really hard to beat the return on investment that a book delivers. I’m not a very speedy reader, so I listen to a lot of books on and if it’s really good, I’ll get the hard copy and put together notes. In listening to Brian Tracy, a small 3% investment of your income is more than you’ll ever need to become an expert (well-paid at that) in your field. Could you imagine what $1,500 (3% of median household income of $50k) would buy you in knowledge and skills? Actually, it would buy 100 months on or about 75 books at $20 a pop. How many people have read 75 books in their chosen field?

Scott Lovingood @ Small Business Coach November 5, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Starting an online business has the absolute highest return. For $100 you can be up and running. Then the sweat equity allows you to grow it to a full time income if you are willing to invest and leverage it.

A good book would be my second. Nothing beats one good idea that can change your life.

kenyantykoon November 6, 2009 at 5:18 am

this has really helped me. i have always been wondering about how to utilise small amounts of money. coicidentally, i have done some of those things like starting a business and investing in myself but i dont think that i wil invest in mutual funds. This is because i am following Warren Buffett’s philosophy that overdiversification can reduce ones returns. He is against mutual funds and so i guess i am too. Maybe i will put small amounts in money market funds and let them grow to a point where i can buy a sizable amount of stock from a good company- all this is better that spending it on useless things

PK November 6, 2009 at 6:40 am

I wasn’t going to sign up for the boot camp anyway, but you didn’t leave much time for people to sign up. Less than twelve hours from posting to deadline.

Silicon Valley Blogger November 6, 2009 at 6:59 am

There is actually one more day for people to sign up — all of November 6, you are welcome to register. There was a typo on the date I supplied, which I needed to correct. So one more day for anyone interested in participating in the personal finance boot camp.

John DeFlumeri Jr November 6, 2009 at 8:10 am

Well, those pieces of advice make sense, especially paying off some of the EVIL debt.

John DeFlumeri Jr.

Rob Bennett November 6, 2009 at 8:29 am

I think it’s really hard to beat the return on investment that a book delivers.

I agree in a way and disagree in a way.

The way that I would say it is that a book offers the potential of a hugely positive value proposition but also the potential of a pretty darn poor one. Reading a book soaks up a lot of time. Our time is worth something. Read a book that does not deliver, and you hurt yourself in a serious way.

The trick with books is picking good ones and avoiding time-wasters.


Craig November 6, 2009 at 10:26 am

Take advantage of the long haul. A small amount of money won’t grow much but it may get you in the habit of putting away extra side money for a later cause whether it be a vacation, more investments or just for security in the future.

Live for Improvement November 6, 2009 at 12:56 pm

This was an especially good read. Instead of just blowing a $100 windfall shopping, try investing it for the future.

I will never look a $100 the same.

Robert November 8, 2009 at 12:43 am

Great advice. $100 can end up being $1000 in just a few years!

If you are looking for more great ways to find money to save, try using Mint ( It is a great personal finance website that generates it money by attempting to find you ways to earn or save more money .


Gadget Sleuth November 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Paying down debt is the best idea of all of them, I think. This can save you money and hassle down the road.

Joe November 10, 2009 at 7:08 pm

>>I started an automatic investment program at a discount broker… in a few mutual funds…


Although, by going through a broker you pay commission. You can go direct to many no-load mutual fund companies and buy their mutual funds with no commission.

Which is what I do. Over the years, I have increased my monthly amount (or reduced it in years I needed to do so). But now I have a tidy sum.

Lawrence November 10, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Love this article. Investing in yourself is the best way to go. And you are right, opening an online business is cheap and can be rewarding. I just started one and I hope it turns out successful. I also do what I can to benefit my Irvine CPA firm.

Roger November 15, 2009 at 7:03 am

Excellent article. Personally, I’m partial to using a small sudden windfall to invest in a small business; besides the potential to increase your wealth, you could also find something you enjoy doing more than your day job. Certainly not a bad way to spend your time and energy.

D Lauder November 21, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I think the first thing one should do with extra money is pay off debt. Once that’s done, build up an emergency fund, after that start investing.

Jason Hommel December 22, 2009 at 5:15 am

I agree that you shouldn’t “invest” your money in the bank. It simply couldn’t keep up with inflation. You should invest in something that has shown its ability to deliver. That’s why it’s good to invest in something liquid so you can easily reap the rewards. While I’m all for investing in yourself, you really don’t have to pay for it. You can easily subscribe to a newsletter or get information online.

Joe February 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

>>1. Set up an automatic investment program….
I’m a little disappointed you didn’t mention an alterntive to paying brokerage fees. Discount brokers fees are still fees.

I own shares in about a dozen companies, which I purchased directly from the companies. All pay dividends, which are reinvested in their stock. Periodically, I send in additional mony to each one to purchase more shares. No fees (some companies do have fees, usually a few pennies per purchase).

These kinds of ‘reinvest dividends for owners of stock’ are often called Direct Reinvestment Programs (DRIPS). Some have similar names.

TheTrueMoneyMaker February 22, 2010 at 12:33 am

Instead of putting it in the bank and receive only a small increase, put it too good use and make it increase!

Michael Anderson October 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Starting an online business is a great idea. You can set up a website or blog complete with hosting for a year for less than $100 dollars. Monetize the website or blog and make it work for you.

EarlyRetirementInvestments January 9, 2011 at 8:23 am

Before investing hard-earned money into stocks or forex, it’s better to pay off debts like high interest rate credit cards. Because it’s useless to earn from an investment when credit card debts will only siphoned the profits.

Corey B. June 30, 2011 at 4:05 am

I am new to the idea of investing money in oneself. If anyone wouldn’t mind telling me, what’s the best way to go about beginning? What type of research should be done? In 3 years I will be a chiropractor and want to know if there is anything I can do to help myself before I enter my profession. Thanks for the kelp everyone. Any advice is appreciated.

Leave a Comment