It takes money to make money, it's often said, and when it comes to investing, that statement is verifiably true. Thing is, it doesn't take that much to get going, and the sooner you start, the more rapidly your nest egg can grow.

Right this way
For my money (and yours), low-cost mutual funds are a great way to start saving now for the future.

For example, Vanguard 500 Index (FUND:VFINX) -- a world-class S&P-tracker whose top holdings included Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and AIG (NYSE:AIG) at the end of May -- will ding you just 0.18%. Meanwhile, the same shop's Total International Stock Index (VGTSX) goes for a measly 0.31%, a terrific bargain when it comes to investing in such foreign equity stalwarts as BP (NYSE:BP), GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A).

Those pesky minimums
Trouble is -- or at least the trouble might be -- you'll need to come up with a cool $3,000 to invest in either of those fine funds. If that's too rich for your blood, not to worry. You have alternatives aplenty.

For starters, many fund companies will lower the minimums if you invest in an IRA (as opposed to a taxable) account, and some will do the same if you agree to a regular program of monthly investing -- a.k.a. "dollar-cost averaging."

T. Rowe Price, for example, reduces the minimums on all of its funds to just $50 if you agree to contribute at least that much each month. Not too shabby, eh? Indeed, it's the kind of deal that makes an excellent idea -- saving in a disciplined way -- all the more compelling.

Thing is
Still, while reduced minimums are great, you obviously have to choose carefully from among the funds that sport them. It's no great advantage, after all, to be able to clear the initial investment minimum at a fund that turns out to be a market-lagging dud, which is exactly what the vast majority of mutual funds are.

There are exceptions, though, and it's precisely those funds that make the grade at Champion Funds, the Fool newsletter service that I head up. Since March 2004, we've been cherry-picking the cream of the fund industry's crop, uncovering choice keepers from big boys like T. Rowe and Vanguard as well as the industry's high-quality smaller shops, too.

If you'd like to check out a list of funds that have made the cut -- and beaten the market by more than 9 percentage points since we first opened for business -- click here for a risk-free Champion Funds guest pass. Your pass provides access to all of the newsletter's recommendations and back issues as well as our world-class discussion boards, where you can inquire about fund minimums, performance history, strategy, and any other bit o' fund business that's piqued your curiosity.

Convenient and comprehensive is what we're shooting for, so just click here to get going. After all, even if you only have a relatively small amount to put to work, time really is money when it comes to investing.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service, and at the time of publication didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America, and GlaxoSmithKline are Income Investor picks. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking righthere.