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Bottom Line Up Front 

  • You don’t need a lot of money to start investing. Navy Federal Investment Services Digital Investor allows you to invest as little as $1 per stock or ETF.
  • The “Rule of 72” can help you estimate how long it could take to double your money if you continue to reinvest your earnings. 

Are you waiting to build up a large amount of money before you start investing? It may not take as much money as you think! Here’s what you need to know about the basics to make even the smallest start worthwhile.

How Much Money Do I Need to Start Investing?

If you have extra cash on hand after paying your bills, you can put it to good use by investing it for your future. Even if you only have an extra $500 to invest, that’s a great start! If you’re not quite there, though, there are ways to invest with smaller amounts. For example, Navy Federal Investment Services Digital Investor allows you to invest as little as $1 per stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF).

When Should I Start Investing?

It’s never too late to start, but the sooner you begin, the better. With more time on your side, you’ll reap the rewards of dividends that can be reinvested for continued growth.

The “Rule of 72” is one method people use to estimate how long it will take their money to double if they continuously reinvest. For our example, let’s suppose your investments consistently earn at the same rate. Although changing market conditions and earnings would likely prevent that from happening, it’s a simple way to explain how this method works. If you’re using 6% as your sample rate of return, the formula would be:

72 / Rate of Return (6%) = Time to Double Your Money (12 years)1

What Choices Do I Have for Investing My Money?

Where you invest your money makes a difference. Most people think of investing as buying shares on the stock market. Owning shares of stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) does offer you greater potential for growing your money over time. And, you may be able to get started with the money you have right now. There are also other options for your investment dollars.

If you’re investing for short-term goals, you might choose a certificate or money market account. For long-term goals such as retirement, there are employer-sponsored retirement plans or you can open your own IRA. (Even if you have an employer-sponsored plan, you can still open an IRA as well.) Check out our retirement savings options for more details on how different types of retirement accounts work.

What Do I Need to Know About Investment Risk?

Although investing money does involve some risk, not investing could mean you'd miss out on opportunities to grow your money faster. If you’re not certain how to manage investment risks, our article Understanding Investment Risk may help. If you still have questions, consider consulting a financial advisor. They can help you get started with an appropriate mix of investments that match your financial situation and risk tolerance.

What If I Don’t Have Much Time to Spend on Investing?

Even if you don’t have much time to manage your portfolio, you can keep your investments growing all year long by setting up automatic investing. An employer retirement plan is designed to do this for you through payroll deductions. You can also set up recurring transfers to automate your IRA or brokerage accounts.

What If I Need Help?

Not sure what to do next? Don’t worry—that’s why we’re here! If you have questions, a financial advisor with Navy Federal Investment Services can answer your questions and help you get started. Or, if you’re interested in a more do-it-yourself option, our Digital Investor is a powerful, but simple online investing tool that allows you to research, buy and track your investments. Visit our investment page to learn more.

1This is an example of how the “Rule of 72” concept works. It’s not intended to represent an investment and is not a guarantee of return. Actual investments will fluctuate with the rate of return.

This financial institution does not give tax advice. Consult your tax advisor for information specific to your situation.

Navy Federal Financial Group, LLC (NFFG) is a licensed insurance agency. Non-deposit investments, brokerage and advisory products are only sold through Navy Federal Investment Services, LLC (NFIS), a member of FINRA/SIPC and an SEC-registered investment advisory firm. NFIS is a wholly owned subsidiary of NFFG. Insurance products are offered through NFFG and NFIS. These products are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guaranteed or obligations of Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), are not offered, recommended, sanctioned or encouraged by the federal government, and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Deposit products and related services are provided by NFCU. Financial advisors are employees of NFFG, and they are employees and registered representatives of NFIS. NFIS and NFFG are affiliated companies under the common control of NFCU. Call 1-877-221-8108 for further information.


This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.