There are investment opportunities all around you. But what is an investment opportunity? Simply put, it’s any vehicle you can use to make money with your money.
You’re probably familiar with the simplest investment opportunity: a savings account. You get interest for having money in the account. But it’s likely not very much – just a few pennies every month. There are absolutely bigger and better opportunities!
Here are some of the numerous options out there, waiting for you to tap into. There’s something for everyone, no matter your knowledge of investments, tolerance for risk or outlook for the future.
Listen to the audio version of this article:
Types of Investment Opportunities
- Bonds, Fixed Income and Money Market Accounts
- Real Estate
- Commodities and Gold
- Mutual Funds
- Peer-to-Peer Lending
- Startups and IPOs
- Art and Collectibles
Stocks are one of the simplest investment opportunities to understand. When you buy shares of a publicly traded company, you’re buying a piece of that company’s future success (or failure). You make money as the stock price rises and lose money as it falls.
Of course, stocks can get complicated fast. There are several ways to make money outside of selling a stock for a higher price than you paid for it. There are also different stock investing strategies, like growth investing, value investing, and dividend investing. You’ll also need to consider buying individual shares or an index fund (or some combination of both).
This is one of the broadest opportunities in the stock market. There’s enough diversity between companies and sectors to build a stable, diversified portfolio and grow your wealth.
The performance of the stock market can be measured by the movement of indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500.
If you want to invest in stocks, but you’re not confident in picking individual companies, no problem. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are a great investment opportunity to own stocks without having to pick them individually. Instead, they use a “basket” approach.
Your investment in an ETF is actually an investment in a collection of companies, often with a theme. For example, an airline ETF may hold shares of 12 companies all specific to the airline field. Or a growth stock-investing ETF may have 30 companies across sectors with the very best growth prospects. You can even invest in REIT ETFs. Investing in an ETF means getting fractional shares of each company through the fund vehicle. You have to pick only the market, strategy or sector you want to invest in, not the individual stocks.
ETFs are also incredibly cost- and tax-efficient. Most have very low fees – and some are even free. Although ETFs also offer more speculative inverse and leveraged options, in general, they can be a wonderful way to hedge and are great for people with moderate risk tolerance. You can learn more about the innovative world of ETFs from Investment U’s ETF Expert Nicholas Vardy.
Bonds, Fixed Income and Money Market Accounts
Fixed income investments are predictable, making them popular among investors with low risk tolerance. Buying a bond with a 3% interest rate and a 10-year maturity date is about as straightforward as it gets in the investing world. With these types of investment opportunities, you sacrifice big gains for stability. Often, they’re part of a larger asset allocation strategy and a great way to tamp down overall risk.
The downside to most fixed income investments is illiquidity. Investing in bonds and money market accounts means you can’t access your money without penalty until the maturity date. The good news is fixed income investments come in a broad range of vesting periods – anywhere from a month or two to a decade or more.
There’s no one who understands bonds better than Investment U’s contributing Bond Expert Steve McDonald. You can check out his articles here.
In the immortal words of the Mark Twain, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”
It’s a witty quip with a lot of truth to it. Real estate is a great investment opportunity because there’s a finite amount of it.
Not only that, but it has tangible value. And there are so many ways to invest in real estate. You can buy rental property and let someone else pay down the mortgage while you benefit from the equity. Or you can buy a run-down property, fix it up and flip it for a quick profit. You can even put money into a real estate investment trust (REIT) if you don’t want to deal with physical property.
Real estate has cycles just like any other market. Get in at the right time and you can ride a property investment to the top of the cycle and sell. Or, if you’ve got a long-term mindset, real estate is a great buy-and-hold asset. Either way, it’s one of the most stable investments out there.
That’s why our contributing Income Expert Marc Lichtenfeld regularly discusses real estate investing.
Commodities and Gold
You’ve probably seen “cash for gold” billboards or store signs. There’s a reason these places are willing to pay you for your precious metals – because they have real value! Like real estate, there’s a finite amount of gold, silver, platinum and precious metals in the world. Gold in particular has value because it’s a currency independent of any national currency that may be rising or falling.
Commodities like gold and other precious metals are tied to the stock market but operate very independently. Often the price of gold and commodities will rise as traditional stocks fall. Buying commodities is a hedge against a downturn in the stock market.
You can buy physical gold and other precious metals in the form of bullion, but it’s much more practical to invest in a commodity-backed index.
The more capital you have invested, the more you’re going to make. Unfortunately, not everyone has $100,000 laying around to invest. Most people just have a few thousand dollars to spare. That’s where mutual funds come in.
A mutual fund pools the capital of many people and invests the lump sum. You might have only enough to buy a few shares of a few companies by yourself. As part of a mutual fund, you’re vested in a huge portfolio that’s diversified and well-managed. Plus, if every member of the fund contributes regularly, earnings grow consistently. It’s a great way to kickstart your investment earnings through economies of scale.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a great alternative to loans from traditional banking institutions. Instead, borrowers can raise capital from individual lenders in smaller, incremental amounts.
On the flip side, P2P lending is a great investment vehicle. If you’re the lender, you’re able to charge interest on the amount you’re loaning – as little as 2% or as much as 8%, on average. You’ll get your initial investment back over the duration of the repayment period, along with the interest. Factor in fees for late or missed payments and your investment could have substantial returns.
P2P lending can be as simple as lending a friend $100 or as risky as lending $10,000 to an entrepreneur through an online lending platform. Risk and reward vary with each lending opportunity, so it’s important to observe each situation carefully.
Startups and IPOs
Startup investments are a great way to make money on someone else’s great idea. Of course, they’re also risky for that same reason – not every great idea pans out.
Startup investment opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. You might put a few thousand dollars into a friend’s local brick-and-mortar business to buy a stake in future sales. Or you might pool your funds with an investment group to buy 20% of a hot tech startup. Either way, you’re buying access to future profits. As a result, startup investments are a long play.
In the same realm, initial public offerings (IPOs) are a great way to cash in on early-stage company investments. Owning part of a company that goes public on the stock market means being compensated for the value of your ownership as share prices rise. For more on where to begin with startup (and cryptocurrency) investing, check out the writings from Investment U contributors and Co-Founders of Early Investing, Adam Sharp and Andy Gordon.
Art and Collectibles
Art and collectibles are amazing investment opportunities for someone who understands their worth. But you need to know how to physically care for these alternative investment items and where to find legitimate buyers and sellers.
One-of-a-kind paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works often sell for as much as someone else is willing to pay for them. For those who value art, the sum can be quite a lot. The same goes for memorabilia. An autographed playbill, a mint baseball card, a limited-edition collector’s item – they all have value to the right person. Finding that person will often net you far more than you originally paid.
Choose Your Investment Opportunities Wisely
As you can see, there are plenty of diverse investment opportunities out there! Finding the right one for you depends on where you feel most comfortable putting your money. Look at your tolerance for risk, the amount you want to invest and your timeline for investment. Then choose the investment that best matches your outlook.