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How To Invest With Only $100

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All the “where to invest $100″ articles telling you to buy CDs and open money market funds are dead wrong. Absolutely dead wrong. Where should you be investing $100? Look for promotional offers from online bank accounts (where you can generate some more income by referring friends and relatives), brokerage firms, and other financial institutions to get the most bang for your $100. Then, after you’ve earned enough through those offers you can start thinking about “conventional” investment vehicles.

Don’t have $100 you want to invest, consider signing up for a credit card that offers statement credits or gift cards that you can convert to money to invest.

To learn more, plow onward!

1. Sharebuilder

First step is to open up a Sharebuilder account using a promotion code that will give you free money. Currently there’s a $50 bonus code 50GO28 if you deposit some funds and make a purchase. Stock purchases are a mere $4 but stock sales are a pricy $14.95. Let’s say you put in $50, make a purchase, get the $50 bonus money, and then sell your stock back at your purchase price. Net result is a gain of $30.05 ($50 less $4 purchase commission and $15.95 sale commission) which is a 60.1% gain on a $50 investment. Now you have $130.05 to invest. Some have reported being able to repeat this process over and over again on multiple promotion codes. I list all of the codes I know of on this Sharebuilder promotion code post.

2. Bank of America

BoA frequently has promotional offers for opening a checking account such as this $50 promotion (MYA). The minimum you need to open most accounts is $100 and account fees are lower if you setup a direct deposit into the account. The “cheapest” account is the MyAccess Checking account which actually has no minimum and $5.95 monthly fee, waived if you have a direct deposit. Once you open an account, the $50 bonus will be deposited into your account within 50 days. Deposit $50, wait 50 days, get the $50 bonus. You can sign up for a BoA promotion every 60 days. According to their representative, the verification department runs a credit bureau report and a report from ChexSystems. After doing this once you’ll have $180.05 waiting to “invest.”

Now you’re on a roll… you can repeat these types of signup deals until you reach $250… (here’s a great list of bank signup promotions)

3. ING Direct

This promotion is for only $25 but it’s an easy $25. Just get someone who already has an ING Direct account to send you a referral (I have some available, hit up this self-serve $25 ING Direct promotion page if you’d like one). All you have to do is deposit $250 and ING will send $25 your way, a quick painless $10% gain with no risk. In return, your friend will get $10. Now, you can give out twenty of your own referrals and start earning a little extra cash with no risk whatsoever. If you get all twenty, that’s $200 in your pocket. So, now you have $450 to “invest,” where to turn now?

4. Virtual Bank eMoney Market

Virtual Bank has a $20 referral bonus, much like ING, except the referrer gets $20 too and you can refer up to fifty people (that’s $1,000 in your pocket, contact me if you need a referral). This offer is available to new accounts only, you’ll have to ACH money from an existing bank account, and the $20 isn’t available for the first 30 days. That’s all pretty standard online banking terms and conditions. So, after your account is approved you’ll immediately be eligible to start referring your friends. After you sign up, refer fifty people and you’ll have $1470 to invest.

Now that you have close to $1500, you should start moving towards conventional investments like investing in those stocks you always get emails about (just kidding!). Vanguard’s STAR fund with a minimum account balance of $1000 is an option but it’s up to you what you’d like to do. You can always peel off some of that money and go back into doing bonuses but at least now you can read “How To Invest $1000″ articles which are typically more exciting.

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30 Responses to “How To Invest With Only $100”

  1. Debt Hater says:

    Wow! That’s the simplest how-to on investing just a little bit that I’ve ever seen. I’m definitely going to try it.
    But I already have a checking account with Bank of America, so I’m not sure that one would work for me. Any suggestions?

  2. samerwriter says:

    The obvious dilemma here is that to some degree these things are pyramid schemes. You may get $1000 by convincing all your friends to sign up, but since you’ve used up your mutual friends and family members, they won’t be able to do nearly so well. And most folks don’t have a blog with a sufficient audience to reach the 50 referral limit.

    Realistically, most average folks will be lucky to get a few referrals out of each of these deals (I know I’d be fairly suspicious if my second cousin once removed tried to get me to sign up for an internet bank promising free money!)

    Also, you’ll want to keep in mind that all these accounts your opening are going to come back to bite you come tax-time. That’s going to be a lot of form 1099s to track. Someone for whom this might be appealing on a financial level may now be forced to move from a 1040-EZ to a regular 1040, further complicating their taxes.

    Is it worth it? If many hours of your time are worth less than a few hundred dollars and a fair amount of mindshare, maybe.

  3. jim says:

    samerwriter – All the points you made are correct, getting those referrals isn’t as trivial as I made it and there will be a lot of 1099 forms to handle at tax time. That being said, someone looking to invest $100 (and reading blogs and the like) is in the mindset that they’re likely willing to go the extra mile and do a little more for their “investment.” You can always just buy a CD to plop it down into a savings account and let it accrue, saving you time and effort, but I believed I was writing for a group willing to do it.

    Also, the extra 1099-INT’s shouldn’t move you from a 1040-EZ to a 1040, it’s as if you had multiple bank accounts.

  4. jim says:

    I should PS my last statement, the 1099-INT’s shouldn’t move you from a 1040-EZ to a 1040 but I’m not sure what the Sharebuilder bonus is counted as. If it’s considered capital gains then you’d be subject to 1040 and not 1040-EZ.

  5. Star Money Articles for the Week of July 10

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  6. thatedeguy says:

    Jim,

    Not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but you’ve been lifehacker’d. :)

    http://www.lifehacker.com/software/money/start-investing-with-100-187170.php

    Enjoy the traffic.

  7. Weekly Roundup – 07/14/06

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    AllFinancialMatters looks at the effect that buying a new car has on your net worth.
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  9. George says:

    If you are willing to do a little bit of work, I would also suggest investing in going private transactions and other special situation opportunities in the stock market that are especially profitable for small investments. Jim has written about these opportunities and even participated in at least one.

    Some opportunities that no other investors consider are available for $100 or less. Since Wall Street is not interested in these micro opportunities, you can aften find potential moderate risk investments returning greater than 10 percent.

  10. Brad says:

    Great article. Now I just need to find a way to get 100 bucks!

  11. schmiddy says:

    Note on the Bank of America deal — you can actually get a $100 sign-up bonus (instead of the $50 mentioned in the article) using the ’100MYA’ code. They don’t publicize it, but here’s the link. They also have a “keep the change” promotion where they match 100% of the rounded-up change from debit card purchases for the first 3 months. This is a great list, I started putting together my own small list of online money making schemes here if you’re interested.

  12. Once you have accumulated more money, you will want to consider private mortgage investing. Go to http://private-mortgage-investing.blogspot.com for more information!

  13. King Asa says:

    Teri,
    Thanks for your blatant advertisement. Stop spamming every post with your website, which is just a front to get people to buy your book.

  14. Al Gore says:

    How does 50 dollars plus (50-19.95)=130.05????

  15. Robert Dobbs says:

    I thought the same thing until i realized that the title is How to invest with only $100

    so that works out like this
    *********
    $100 – Initial investment
    $50 – invested into share builder
    $50 – still in your pocket
    buy stock, then sell stock for same price
    get $50 bonus money

    So now you have a total of $150 – $100 initial investment + $50 bonus from Sharebuilder.
    Pay $4 purchase commission and $15.95 sale commission leaving you with…

    130.05 to invest

  16. TJP says:

    TradeKing also has a bunch of promotional offers when you open an account. The code for $100 free is ACCESS100.

    Check it out!

  17. Ad Man says:

    Vanguards Star is actually a $3000 minimun investment. But is is a safe one.

  18. ChristianPF says:

    Good points. I am a strong advocate of ING Direct, they pay a little bit less, but I think they are worth it. Their system is easier to use and they have actually been a joy to work with.

  19. Kraig Mottar says:

    Lets see if I got this right about sharebuilder.
    You have $100, pay sharebuilder $50 to buy stock, put $50 in an account with them, sell the stock, and come out 60.1% ahead plus what you sold the stock for?

  20. spendthift sally says:

    Whats a gal to do? I do not understand money much but here is the deal.

    I owe 410K on my house, ( fixed at 5/5%)
    150K on A Heloc, (Prime minus .5%)
    12K on Credit Cards @ 0%.

    I am getting a bonus which may be the only cash I see for a while of 350K.
    I work for myself in Real Estate. My burn rate is about 20K a month.

    Suggestions?

    • Jennifer says:

      I suggest you buy a snorkel.

    • pair o docs says:

      seriously its not hard to figure out, you burn 20k a month paying all sorts of nutty bills because you handle credit like cash. i highly suggest instead of investing your bonus in accounts or anything, invest in yourself and pay off as much as you can of your debts. keep the cars and office, sell the house as soon as viable and get a small place, handle your clients away from home, and remember, your poor.

  21. Panther Prey says:

    Jim I do have to admit that this sounds like some solid advice. Free money is wonderful, yet the price that is paid “time” vs. reward “ROI” can be unworthy. Velocity of money is just as important.

    Although this will make you some money to get started I believe sound investment advice is warranted here. Just telling someone a stock recommendation or mutual fund isn’t a great place to start.

    Readers should have a stock picking system or financial adviser to assist them in this endeavor. I speak from experience and loss. In the market. I am not bashing what you are doing here just shedding light that after people have waited so long for the free money; why should they loose it in the market?

    Why not plus the system? Instead of stopping at 1500 bucks why not take 10 or 100 of these readers and have them pool up the money and buy property free and clear?

    Why not have it invested into an IRA as the contribution or build a for profit company? Yada yada…

    I am enjoying your blog it’s sparked some ideas for my own personal financial management. Thanks a million $$.

  22. ron says:

    your math is wrong in the beginning. 50+50= 100-20=80 not $130

  23. ron says:

    i was wrong. got stuck on the 50 aspect. opened 3 sharebuilder accts thus far. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$150

  24. Mrs. Getting Rich says:

    Hi Jim.

    I love your blog! Thanks for the advice.


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