Most of us are hard-working people and we make some money. And usually, we have some live savings. But in the modern, fast-changing world we all ask the question “How to invest money in a safe and/or profitable way?”. At least, I do.
Ok, there is no simple answer here. There is no best way to invest money. The review is not written for that purpose except to list out the available options.
The purpose of this article is to summarize most popular investments, their advantages, and possible risks. But please remember – your investment should be based on your decisions only!
What is an investment? How to invest money?
First – let’s define what is an investment. For me, investment is an expense (money or time) today which will benefit your account in future. It can increase your income or decrease your expenses.
Buying a car is not an investment. It is an expense. Fashion clothes are not an investment also. Fancy trips to exotic countries…..I think you got the idea.
Buying an own house is NOT an investment. At least for me. The place you live in is an expense. No matter if you own it or rent it. You got to pay – rent or taxes/repairs.
Investment is something that possibly will make you richer. But it is not something sure.
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Invest in yourself
How to invest money in yourself? Pretty easy. There are two ways – investing to cut expenses and to gain profits.
Well, the worse expenses you can possibly have are the health expenses. So you can invest some time to improve your health. Fitness and active living can really help you. And a cooking course. I mean it – cooking for yourself is time-consuming (investment) but it is much better than eating junk foods.
Do not live in your car – make a walk, do I bicycle, move your…..you get the idea.
And a cooking course. I mean it – cooking for yourself is time-consuming (investment) but it is much better than eating junk foods.
The other major expenses are for living and transport. It is simple here – find a good place to live but let it be affordable, use an economic transport – a normal car or a public transport, do not buy a villa you are visiting once per year.
Increase your income
This is one is pretty easy – education. OK, I do not mean only some expensive universities. No, it is not a bad idea to have a college background. But it is something obvious, very time-consuming, and very expensive.
You can increase your competence with courses and prove it with certificates. It is faster and cheaper. There are many useful business courses you can take and improve your skills.
Learn a foreign language, or two if you are in Europe.
Check the cutting edge technologies – bio foods, recycling, IT breakthroughs, new energy sources – it is good to be familiar with some of them. It will be good for your career, small business, or investments.
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Bank deposit and government bonds
These are one of the safest …..let say investments. I really wonder if these two are investments because usually the inflation beats their interests.
And it should be like that. For me, the economy is fine if inflation is between deposit bank rates and credit rates.
Why? because inflation is something that pushes your economic activity. Playing save comes with a price.
In any case, I do not mean that having a bank saving account or government bond is something bad. Not at all. But you will lose in the long run.
So, the advantage of a bank saving account is safety, disadvantages are inflation and bank bankruptcy. Usually, some countries cover small banking accounts in order to stop a bank run and panic. In case you want to hold a big amount of money in the bank, find a bank that offers standard banking services and does not use complicated financial instruments which can cause a risk.
Bear in mind that you can hire a bank security box. In a case of bank bankruptcy, your box is considered as a personal belonging and you can take what is inside. But you will get no interest at all.
The advantage of the government bonds is safety (even safe than bank deposit), especially in times of a crisis. Well, it really depends on the country. I mean obviously, US, EU, Japan government bonds are safe. And your return is predictable. The disadvantages – low rates for safety countries, and a high risk for non-safe countries.
The disadvantages – low rates for safety countries, and a high risk for non-safe countries.
In any case, if you are not sure how to invest money, bank deposit and US/EU bonds are a good solution.
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Gold & Jewellery & Arts
Precious metals – gold, silver, platinum are an option for investment. There are 2 ways of investment in them.
First, you can buy gold or another precious metal certificate. Which is a good way not to keep actual physical metal. Just bear in mind that a certain risk exist. For example, gold certificates were forbidden in the USA for decades.
Second, you can actually buy precious metal bars and coins. Just store in a bank security box, not in your basement. But in fact, gold buried in your backyard is maybe the safest “investment”. A millennium guarantee.
In any case, the prices of the precious metals are moving up and down. It is good to buy at the correct moment. Usually precious metals are cheaper at the end of a successful economic circle. And higher during a crisis. But there is no 100% proved recipe.
A nice gift but a nice way to keep value. As it said – “Diamonds are the girls best friends”.
So they are quite safe but when you buy jewelry usually you pay VAT. 10-20% tax is not something sweet.
But in any case, they are a good present. Not fading like flowers thou.
Arts are an option for investment due to many reasons. Mainly ancient Egyptians or Van Gogh will not start crafting again, right?
In any case, arts are riskier than precious metal. You need a place to store them. Sometimes a bank security box is just not enough. And usually, they are expensive.
And you need to know the market. To read constantly, to check new art trends, etc. Anyway if you like arts you can invest some amount there.
You can check Christies and Sothebys – the best place for online art trading.
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Make own small business
To make an own business you need to answer to something more than “How to invest money?”.
Own business needs engagement. You need to spend time, efforts…and yes money also.
OK, there a couple of options, and once again there is no “best” option.
I will share a couple of ideas but this is not a full guide and there are much more than them
- If you are a specialist in some business area you can start as beeing consultant.
- You can find a niche. You know corporations took most of the “big” business areas, but niches always exist.
- Hand-crafting skills are always a good source for business.
- Online business is always an option.
- Beeing mediator is a good area also.
- Entertaining business
- Technical support
- Bio food expert
- …and more
Just check business new trends. They will show you in what to invest in your time (education needed, skills, etc). And find your niche.
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When you are not sure how to invest money, Mutual funds are also an option.
They are enterprises which collect money from many investors and invest in stocks, bonds, futures, and other market instruments.
In short, mutual funds – these are experts who take care of other people’s money.
And as everything else, the have advantages and disadvantages.
Mutual fund advantages:
OK, they are professional traders, they are constantly involved in the stock market, they have some internal information about shares, bonds, futures.
Investing in a mutual fund is quite safe. You still can lose money but definitely all of them. They can offer
They can offer a wide range of financial products – riskier, safer, etc.
Mutual fund disadvantages:
OK, there is no billionaire who makes his money from a mutual fund. They invest your money – which means that they care lesser.
Mutual funds charge you. Some of them made unnecessary trades just to take fees.
Sometimes you have to pay additional taxes (depending on your country).
So, there are pros and cons. But in any case, mutual funds are a good option for a part of your money. And when you are still not enough confident in your financial or business skills.
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Real estate investments are one of the most popular investment options.
In fact, you do not need extremely high financial education to invest in real estate.
But that does not mean that real estate investment is always profitable. You need to consider many parameters – locations, economy growth, interests, rents, etc.
Advantages – the major advantage of real estate is that you have something “physical” which is difficult to lose. You have two sources of profit – rents and capitalization (higher price after a period). There are different real estate investment options – houses, flats, land, commercial areas, etc. It is easier to find credit for such investment because the banks like mortgage loans.
Disadvantages – price. You need to put a high amount of money in real estate investment. If you need money fast, it will be more difficult to sell real estate. You will need to pay taxes. And to take care of your property.
There are some other options – you can buy shares from companies which operate on the real estate market. Or you can buy real estate derivates – for example, a part of other people real estate investment.
In any case, if you have a nice amount of money and do not have a serious financial background, real estate investment can be an answer to the question “How to invest money”?
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Shares & stock market
When it comes to investment, financial market, profit, how to invest money, the first thing that comes to me are the screaming brokers and traders in their strange rooms.
Well, the reality is far more prosaic. I mean if you want to trade shares or another financial instrument you will sit at home in front of your PC.
OK, first things first – what are stocks? Stocks are units of ownership. You actually become an owner (minor shareholder of the company you invest in. This does not mean that you will manage the company :).
There are different types of stocks which I am not going to explain but you can check Investopedia for more information. In any case, you can benefit from your stocks in two major way – if stock prices are increasing or if the company provide a dividend.
You do not need many things to start trading stocks. You need a contract with a licensed broker, money, stock trading software (brokers usually give advice), PC with an online connection.
You can basically buy stocks if you think that the company and/or market will grow or “short” stock if you think that the company and/or the market will decline. In any case, you can benefit from each market trend. If you guess it.
Well guessing the trend is the difficult part. OK, there are two types of main analysis which can help – fundamental and technical.
- Fundamental analysis – the base of this analysis is the companies’ financial statements. The fundamentalists analyze the balance sheets, cash flow statements, income statements, and other docs. And they are trying to understand what is the real value of the stocks based on them. If they find underestimated shares, they usually buy them.
- Technical analysis – the base of technical analysis is the charts. Usually, technical experts try to forecast future stock price movements based on past data. These experts analyze different chart indicators as RSI, MACD, Moving average, etc in order to find underestimate shares.
Once again there is no best solution. My personal opinion is that if you want to have long-time investments it is better to select fundamental analysis. But if you want to make frequent trades may be technical analysis will fit you.
And please, think about future also. There are always new growing trends.
There are many stock markets you can trade but here is the list of the major ones:
- New York Stock Exchange – one of the most important and respected stock markets. Most of the biggest companies in the World are traded there. Official site – NYSE.
- NASDAQ – this stock exchange is specialized in trading stocks of IT and engineering companies. Most of the major players from the digital world are listed there. Official site – NASDAQ.
- London Stock Exchange – the largest stock exchange in Europe. Official site – LSE.
- Japan Exchange Group – the biggest stock exchange in Asia. Official site – JEX.
There are many local stock exchanges which can provide good options also.
At the end let me summarize the advantages and disadvantages of stock trading.
Advantages – there are many options for investment, the market is fast, you can sell any time (or buy), you can benefit from both – price ups and dividends, you can have fast profit.
Disadvantages – you can lose money. Fast. You need some training, basic financial education. You need to watch the market, to be interested in your company and its competitors. To keep an eye for scientific break-troughs.
In any case buying stock of the companies you know well (management, products, markets) can be a good answer to the question “How to invest money?”.
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Commodities & Futures
Commodities are goods which are traded on different exchanges. Usually, they are resources with equal or very similar physical qualities.
The four main groups of commodities are:
- Energy – including oil, gas, etc
- Metals – iron, copper, zinc, etc
- Live Stock and Meat
- Agricultural – corn, rice, wheat, etc
Futures (or future contracts) are very closely related to commodities. Futures oblige buyer to buy commodities or seller to sell at a predetermined future date and price.
What does it mean? It means that if you are part of the future contract you can make a large profit or loss. You really need to pay attention to economic growth, supply and demands, scientific break-troughs, even weather.
The future contract trading is usually riskier than the stock trade in short terms.
From the other hand, commodities can be a nice way for long term investment. I mean obviously, people we keep eating meat or wheat. So f you constantly buying future contracts (especially in food) you can save a nice amount of money and not be afraid of a bankruptcy.
The best place you can trade commodities are:
- Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)
- Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT)
- New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX)
- London Metal Exchange (LME)
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Options are contracts for rights or obligations and provide:
- Right to buy stock, commodities, currencies at a predetermined price (Long call)
- Right to sell stock, commodities, currencies at a predetermined price (Long put)
- Obligation to buy stock, commodities, currencies at a predetermined price (Short put)
- Obligation to sell stock, commodities, currencies at a predetermined price (Short call)
All options are time bound. They have an expiration date.
All options have a strike price at which they can be executed.
When you want “rights” you need to buy them and to pay a premium. If the underlying stock, commodities, currencies does not move in the desired direction you will lose only the premium. If it does move in the desired direction you can have profit. The more underlying price move in your direction – the better.
When you take the “obligation” you win the premium. But if the underlying price moves against you – you can lose a massive amount of money.
Options can provide enormous flexibility in your position but they are risky. So if you are a beginner you can:
- Buy only rights (long calls, long puts)
- If you write on an obligation (short call, short put) own the underlying stock. For example you have 1000 shares – you can write 10 options (1 option cover 100 pieces of shares). In this case, you can lose only the difference between the share price and the strike price.
- Use opposite options – for example, buy rights and sell obligations for one and the same underlying assets.
In any case, options are not long-time investments because they are time-bound, and they are risky.
On the other hand, they can provide you with great flexibility. Just be very careful and if you are not professional trader use simple options strategies. Covered call and protective put (google them) for example are great strategies for beginners.
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How not to invest money
There are some tools and things I do not recommend when it comes to the question “How to invest money?”. Please, bear in mind this is my personal opinion.
Forex is a decentralized exchange currency market. I avoid it. I mean if you trade too often (scalping) the “pips” for brokers will eat your profit. If you don’t the interest for the leverage amount will be against you.
If you think, that a currency will go in certain direction use options.
Relatives & Friends
Be careful with them. Not only because of the money but because of the family problems, also.
They do not worth in the long run. Search for legal opportunities. There enough options to decrease your taxes in a legal way.
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So this is my short review of the most popular investments. I hope that this short guide will help you with its information for the financial world.
If you have any suggestions, feel free to write a comment.