Typically people know they need to invest, but often find a litany of reasons not to do so. It’s not important right now because retirement is far off; it’s too expensive; it’s too complicated; I’m not sure where I’d even start. All of these reasons are essentially just excuses because the truth of the matter is that it’s not that hard to invest; we often make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Of course, investing is serious business because it’s helping you plan your future, but it doesn’t have to be stressful by any means. Here are three very simple ways to start investing in the next five minutes.

401(k) Plans

Does your employer offer a 401(k) plan, and will they match a portion of your contributions? Then what are you waiting for? According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, “Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 110.7 million full-time wage and salary workers were $865 in the first quarter of 2017.” This comes out to over $44,000 a year. Then take into account your employer match, which is usually 2.7% on average in the US. This means you should contribute at least the max amount your employer will match — or also contribute to your account — because otherwise you’re giving up free money from your boss. Read that again: you are giving up free money from your boss.

Let’s put it another way: if you walked in tomorrow and your coworker had a $20 bill on her desk (which is roughly 2.7% of $865), and you didn’t, wouldn’t you want to do something to get that also? And yes, this means if you make the median weekly income, all you’d need to invest is $20 to get another $20 from your boss. Seem more attainable now?

Simple Apps For Investing

Unfortunately, not all employers offer 401(k) plans, and even less offer a match. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on investing. As a freelance writer, I’ve frequently been in the position where there aren’t many benefits to me opening up a 401(k) since there’s no free cash in my future. However, that doesn’t mean I can simply deal with retirement later. My favorite interim solution? Apps; specifically Acorns and Robinhood.

Acorns is an app that invests your spare change by rounding it up to the nearest dollar. So, if I spend $2.50 to park at a meter for an hour and pay with my card, the other $0.50 is deposited into my diversified portfolio. It really is that easy. I simply downloaded it, linked a bank card, and chose the amount of risk I wanted my portfolio to have. Acorns did the rest. Now, all I do is check in to see how my account is doing and make my monthly investment (it can be as little as $5). Acorns likely won’t fund your entire retirement, but it’s a simple way to get started before you finish reading this. The best part? You can withdraw money from your account at any time. 

Robinhood is for when you’re feeling a bit riskier and want to buy stocks. You pay no fees to trade (usually fees come in at around $10/share) and you can purchase stocks like Tesla, Apple, and Microsoft. However, if you feel like the stock market is too risky, then this app isn’t for you; stick with Acorns.


Are 401(k)s not an option? Do apps intimidate you? Ok, not to worry there’s another option for you. IRAs are simplified investment options and there are lots of different offerings out there. Not only do many companies offer a traditional IRA, but there are also Roth IRAs, Simple IRAs, SEP IRAs, but don’t get overwhelmed yet. While setting up an IRA may take a few more minutes than downloading an app, it’s also simple.

Contribution limits are typically fairly low on IRAs and they’re considered less risky than a lot of options out there. Where should you start? Call your bank or find a financial advisor ask them if they have any options you can take advantage of. Since they know your financial history, they’ll be able to make a few good suggestions for you. After that, it’s only a matter of making your monthly payments until it’s time to retire.