Struggling to Invest? Here’s One Way To Start Small
A few months ago, I laced up my shoes for my first post-partum run. My baby was just five weeks old, and I was horribly out of shape. But I wasn’t worried. After all, I only planned to run one block.
I breezed out the door and ran down the hill. Since I was really feeling it, I turned around and ran back up the hill, too. Mission accomplished. In fact, I blew the mission out of the water – I ran two blocks instead of one.
A Simple Strategy to Get Over the Hump
Each day for months, I laced up my sneakers and ran at least one block. Sometimes I ran just one block, sometimes I run three miles. My little mind trick worked. I was getting back into shape.
Dr. B.J. Fogg spoke about these kinds of “tiny habits” in his 2012 TEDx Talk. His life-changing philosophy is about making a tiny habit that naturally grows. Hate exercise? Do two push ups each time you use the bathroom. Not one for dental hygiene? Floss just one tooth per night. Struggling to invest? Invest $5 with Stash while you wait for Netflix to load.
The theory goes that you can’t rely on motivation alone to make a big change. Instead, you need to rely on a habit – ideally a tiny habit. A habit that’s so easy to execute that you don’t have to overcome a high motivational threshold to accomplish it. A habit that you can remember to do.
To create a lasting habit, three forces need to be at work: motivation, the ability to accomplish the task, and a trigger.
A New Way to Approach Investing
Until recently, it was impossible to create a tiny investing habit. You needed the motivation to save up several thousand dollars. You had to sift through thousands of mutual funds to find the right one. And it was always easier to put off investing until sometime in the future.
But now, Stash Invest makes it easy to build a tiny investing habit. You don’t need thousands of dollars to buy your first investment. Instead, you can transfer $5 every day from your checking account to your investing account. You can literally invest while you wait for your coffee to brew or while riding the bus to work.
You don’t need to sift through thousands of ETFs. Instead, you can learn about just a few dozen low-cost funds that fit with your investing ideals.
When your motivation is high, you can visit Stash’s learning center to learn about asset allocation and how to balance a portfolio or how to invest with intent and understand jargon. When your motivation is low, you can invest your $5 and call it a day.
Stash makes the investing habit super simple to start. It takes just 10 minutes to set up your investment account. If you don’t have screaming kids to attend to, you can probably even set it up in five.
Then you fund your account. You can manually invest $5 into a partial share of Berkshire Hathaway stock (because you might think you roll with Buffett). You could choose to invest in funds that reflect your values (maybe Green Energy or Clean Water?), or funds that match your goals. How you invest is up to you, but Stash makes it easy to choose.
Plus, Stash will maintain your account for free for the first three months. Afterwards, Stash charges $1 per month to maintain your account unless you have more than $5,000, in which case they charge 0.25 percent per year. They don’t charge fees for trading, and they don’t charge a special fee for owning just a fraction of a share.
In a world full of gotchas, Stash keeps their fee structure simple and streamlined. That makes it even easier to develop that tiny habit.
Who knows? You might enjoy logging in each morning to invest your $5. Even if nothing goes well the rest of the day, you’ll know that you did something good for yourself. If you’re not into daily log-ins, you can make the investments even easier. Set up Auto-Stash to tuck away $35 per week.
But can a habit that small really pay off? Absolutely. It’s the mathematical magic of compounding interest teamed with positive rates of return. Here’s how it works:
Let’s assume that you invest $5 a day for the next 50 years. At that point, you’ll probably want to retire. If you can get an eight percent average rate of return – and you reinvest the interest that you earn – you’ll have over a million dollars in your investment account.
The tiny habit compounds over time, and your wealth can grow. No amount of money is too small if you commit to a habit for long enough.
Start your tiny investing habit with Stash today. Assuming a positive rate of return, your investing prowess, ability to save, and overall wealth will grow over time.
Written by Hannah Rounds. Rounds is a writer for CentSai, mom of two energetic kids, and a data scientist based in Raleigh, North Carolina.