Whether or not you have thousands of dollars to invest, you still might want to get started with a fund with a relatively small deposit. If you're opening an account for a child or other loved one or just trying out a new family of funds, sometimes depositing a few hundred or a few thousand dollars is a good way to get started. Many funds have very reasonable minimums or offer ways that you can get started without committing large sums of money.
The minimum investment for many mutual funds isn't a particularly onerous amount. You don't need $50,000 or even $5,000 to get started. Vanguard, for instance, lets you invest in most of its funds with a $3,000 initial purchase and allows you to buy more in $100 increments. The Fidelity Contrafund has a minimum initial investment of $2,500. For T. Rowe Price, the minimum is $2,500 for regular accounts or $1,000 for retirement accounts, educational savings accounts or custodial accounts for minors.
Monthly Deposit Plans
Some mutual fund companies offer monthly deposit plans. With these plans, you allow them to debit money from your checking or savings account every month to fund your mutual fund account. While you can fund it with deposits as low as $50 or $100 per month, the deposits do add up over time to a sizable amount. One benefit of doing this is that these accounts also set you up to be automatically dollar-cost averaged, since you're making regular deposits (and purchases).
Identifying Low-Minimum Plans
One of the easiest ways to identify a plan for your particular deposit amount is to use a mutual fund screener. These are tools that allow you to create custom searches of databases of funds. For instance, you could search for a growth fund with no load and an initial deposit of $500 or less. The screener will then return every fund that meets this criteria so that you can choose the best one for you.
You could establish a position in an exchange-traded fund with as little as one share. While you will have to pay whatever brokerage commission that your investment manager charges for the transaction, ETFs aren't subject to traditional loads. If your broker charges you $8.95 for a trade and you purchase $500 worth of an ETF, it's equivalent to a 1.79 percent fee. Some brokers may even reduce or waive commissions if you buy ETFs that they issue.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.