Let’s be honest, investing isn’t exactly a riveting topic of conversation and it can be confusing as all fuck, but it does has the potential to change your life financially.

Of course, the first thing that usually comes to mind with investment is property, and we all know what a shit fight that is at the moment, so let’s talk about some alternatives that aren’t insanely complicated.

Acorns

We’ve written about this one before, but it’s definitely worth revisiting as a learning tool.

The idea behind Acorns is it rounds up your electronic payments to the nearest dollar and invests that spare change on your behalf. For example, if you pay for $3.50 coffee with your card, the purchase is rounded up to $4 with the 50 cent difference added to your investment account.

This is a great little tool for two reasons. Firstly, you can invest as little or as much as you like (most automated investment funds require a minimum amount), and secondly, it will give you an indication of your appetite for risk.

When you sign up, the app will ask you which of five portfolios suits your investment ambitions: conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, or aggressive.

As you can tell, there’s an inclining level of risk there – the most aggressive portfolio has the potential to yield the best returns, but is also the riskiest as the stocks are less diversified. You can change your portfolio via the app and view exactly how much of your cash is in each of the stocks.

For most, this isn’t going to be a lot of money, so we’re not talking massive gains by any means unless you plan on pumping in a solid amount of extra investment at regular intervals. But by watching your money and tracking stock performance, you’ll gain a basic understanding of how the market works.

In other words, this is a cheap and easy place to start learning the ropes.

Robo-advice

Robo-advice is, as the name suggests, financial advice given by a computer rather than a person. Because human financial advisers general take a commission on your money, robo-advice is generally a cheaper alternative.

But that doesn’t mean it’s substandard advice, it’s simply tuned to give you information based on your answers to a set of questions. The best example of this is an automated fund called Stockspot.

When you sign up, the website will ask you some questions about your investment goals like how much you’d like to invest and how much you’d like to make. From there, you’ll get a recommended portfolio that will help you reach those goals.

The portfolio is managed for you, which leaves you clear to simply monitor its performance and leave the complicated stock decisions up to them.

Unlike Acorns, Stockspot has a minimum entry amount of $2,000 to get started. If you invest $10,000 or less, the service is free for 6 months, after which the management fee is $6.60 per month.

It’s a step up from Acorns in terms of investment, but still highly accessible to those with little market knowledge.

Yourself

Sometimes the best investment you can make is in yourself. Yeah, it sounds cliche as hell, but hear me out.

You and skills are the most important assets you have, so it never hurts to give them some loving from time to time. By using your money to learn a new skill, get a qualification or start a business, you have the potential to earn far more than a low-tier investment could get you.

The bottom line is, don’t let your cash sit still. If you have money doing nothing in a bank account, put it somewhere it’ll work for you. Depending on the amount, the returns may not be massive, but it’s far better than nothing.

Image: The Wolf of Wall Street