The $1,000 Investment Account: Where to Start
You know those times when you have a spare $1,000 burning a hole in your bank account? Hey, stranger things have happened. Maybe you got a bonus. Maybe you just sold your house or your car.
Either way, here’s the good news: you have $1,000. Like many things, investing is harder when you have less money (between fewer dollars and higher fees). One grand isn’t the lottery, but it can certainly make a difference.
Here are a few smart ways to make use of a $1,000 investment account.
Pay Off Debt
Okay, this one isn’t as fun as investing in something new, but it’s also one of the best ways you can use your $1,000.
If investment had a cartoon-style evil twin, debt would be it. Debt is the inverse of investment—where investment grows your money through compound interest, debt eats away at your money through the same mechanism. It’s how you can pay off the entire balance on a student loan and not be finished yet.
If you have $1,000, throwing it at your high-interest debt will do your future self a huge favor. That’s $1,000 less that you have to pay back later. And if you can pay off the whole loan with it? Even better.
Build a High-Yield Emergency Fund
When it comes to emergency savings, Americans are in a scary place. 51% of Americans have less than three months of emergency savings. Worse, just 39% of Americans could afford to pay off an unexpected $1,000 expense. Many Americans don’t have any emergency savings at all.
Sound like you? If so, it’s time to bulk up your emergency fund.
The best way to do this is with a high-yield savings account, a type of savings account that typically pays 20 to 25 times the national average for a standard savings account. Don’t get too excited—the national average APY is an insulting 0.06%. Still, FDIC-insured high-yield savings accounts give you the benefits of a savings account (best liquidity on the market) with the fringe benefit of a little higher earnings on the side.
For example, if you drop your $1,000 straight into a high-yield savings account with a 2% APY and don’t touch it, you’ll have $1,020 at the end of the first year (compared to a meager $1,000.06 at the national average APY).
When looking at a high-yield savings account, always look for FDIC-insured accounts, and pay careful attention to the APY (the interest you’ll earn each year). It’s also a good idea to look for an account that doesn’t require an initial minimum balance, just in case you want to throw some of that $1,000 into other things.
Buy Commission-Free ETFs
Finally, some fun stuff: time to diversify your portfolio. Mutual funds get all the attention, but with a spare $1,000 to invest in new directions, it’s time to give ETFs some love (and space in your portfolio).
An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a type of investment product that allows multiple investors to pool their resources, invest in stocks, bonds, or other assets, and collect dividends from the interest on the asset pool. The difference is that ETFs are more convenient to buy and sell than mutual funds—unlike mutual funds, ETF shares are traded on the national stock exchange similar to an ordinary stock.
The nice thing about ETFs is that they’re a type of index fund that’s accessible to investors at the low end of the buy-in spectrum. Most mutual funds require a buy-in of more than $1,000, which is out of your price range. Because ETFs buy and sell like stocks, the minimum investment is simply a share price—which could be as low as $5 to $10 per share. And since you have $1,000, you can cobble together a few ETFs for a diversified portfolio.
The key is to look for commission-free ETFs. Since ETFs are traded like stocks, you pay a commission fee to buy and sell—unless you work with a commission-free ETF. Stick to those if you don’t want your gains swallowed up in fees.
Invest in What You Love
Always wanted to invest in something you love but never had the money? With a spare $1,000, you can make your passion part of your portfolio.
Our favorite form of passion investing is art investing. After all, blue-chip art has outperformed the S&P 500 by 180% from 2000 to 2018. Historically, this market has been restricted to the ultra-rich (because seriously, who else can afford to drop several million dollars on a picture?) Fortunately, average investors now have a leg up to participate.
As a new art investor, you have two options: build your own collection or invest indirectly. $1,000 will give you an in for some art that you might not have been able to afford, but without more money coming in after it, you won’t be able to continue to afford investing that way. Plus, building your own collection means you have to deal with the headache of selling a piece, which means fostering personal relationships with galleries and auctioneers so that they give you the inside scoop and treat you as a favorite customer.