Investing can be both confusing and stressful for people who are not highly trained on the subject. Betting your retirement on an investment can be a very scary thing to do. Also, many think that the only way to make money investing is to have a large sum of money to work with. Fortunately, there are many investment options that can limit the risk, reduce the stress, and don't require huge pots of money to participate.
A common misconception about stocks is that only big investors can get involved. The reality is that little guys can buy stock, too. If you work with a broker, then the minimum investment will probably be $2,000, perhaps more. If you are comfortable enough with what company you want to purchase stock in and do not need the expert advice, then online options like E-trade or Scottrade only require $500 to get started.
Government bonds are basically loans to government agencies. For example, if a city needed money to build a new water-treatment plant, it would sell bonds to raise the funds. You can buy a bond and then receive interest from the city over the course of the investment. These investments tend to be very safe and are designed as a long-term investment. Many can be purchased with just a few hundred dollars.
Collectibles are things like coins, precious metals or antiques. Some investors are more comfortable when they are able to visibly see their investment. The advantage with these types of investments is that if the collectible has a sudden increase in value, the investor can quickly get his hands on it and sell it for a profit. Another advantage is an investor can combine a personal interest she has with her investment. Collections like coins, stamps and antiques are all things people enjoy collecting and can be used as ways to invest money.
A mutual fund is a combination of stocks from many companies. The advantage to this is that by spreading the money out across many companies rather than just one, the risk of the investment is reduced. The odds of all of the companies going south is much lower than just one company. Most mutual funds cater to larger investors, $3,000 or more, but there are smaller options that only require a small investment to start. Companies such as Franklin Templeton and T. Rowe Price offer funds where the minimum start is $50 and $100 per month respectively. Be sure to research the different funds to make sure there are no high fees, which could quickly eat into a small investment.