There are lots of ways to invest your money.  Personally, when I think of investing I think first of stocks, then real estate.  But for others, the term “investing” can mean lots of different things.  Here are some easy and not so easy ways to invest money into investments you might not have thought of otherwise.  We’ve sorted the group into five categories and listed the easiest ways to invest at the top of the list.

Invest at a Bank

The easiest way to invest your money is to go to your local bank and make one of several investments.  Investments at banks have gotten more advanced over the years, with many banks now selling stock funds and other types of assets, but the basic accounts that banks offer are typically savings accounts, certificates of deposit and savings bonds.  Savings bonds are being phased out of paper form and will soon only be sold in electronic from through the US Treasury’s website.  Savings accounts are by far the easiest way to invest your money.  However, they have extremely low yields, usually just over 0%.  Certificates of deposit, or CDs, offer better yields but require a time commitment of between one month and a five years.  Overall, these are the easiest places to invest, but they are also the lowest yields and hence some of the poorest investment choices for people with a long term investment horizon.

Invest Through a Brokerage

Within a few minutes, you can set up an online brokerage account at any of the dozens of high quality discount brokers.  From these accounts, you can easily invest in tens of thousands of different investments.  The easiest and most popular investments include mutual funds.  When buying a mutual fund, you are buying a number of shares in a fund that typically holds hundreds of different stocks.  Mutual funds can be invested in specific sectors or geographies, or they can cover entire markets.  Besides mutual funds, you can also buy individual stocks through a brokerage.  It’s very easy to actually buy a stock or mutual fund.  The hard part is deciding which one to buy.  Most broker’s websites offer help in the form of stock and fund screeners.  Also available through brokers are exchange traded funds (ETFs), corporate and government bonds, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and even money market accounts.

Brokerage

Invest in Yourself

Investing in yourself can pay off in big long term gains in the form of higher income, higher job satisfaction, and even higher self esteem.  You can always increase the your market value by becoming better at something.  Ways to invest in yourself include finishing your high school education, attending a technical school, completing college, or even finding a trade association or accreditation program to enroll and graduate from.  And of course there is always higher education in the form of advanced degrees.  Other ways to invest money in yourself would be to take a self improvement course on public speaking or networking.  Even going to the gym is an investment in yourself.  On average, people that are more fit are more likely to get promotions and job offers than those that neglect their body.  There are literally thousands of things you can do to make yourself more marketable and improve your chances of success.

Invest in Real Estate

Investing in real estate is more difficult and takes a longer commitment than the methods mentioned above, but over the long term real estate could possibly be the biggest return on your investment.  That’s because when you invest in real estate you get four kinds of monetary gains – property price appreciation, debt paydown, increases in cash flow, and tax advantages.  Investing in real estate can be very complicated or it can be as simple as buying and renting out a condo.  It can also be very hands on, especially if you buy homes, improve them and then sell or “flip” them.  However, real estate investments can also be very hands off if you hire a property manager.  The most difficult part of investing in real estate is finding the best property to buy.  Real estate markets are not liquid and there are many properties that are listed at unreasonable levels.  Make sure you do your research and shop around for a while before you buy your first property.  Once you own a property, you can start to leverage existing properties to buy more properties in the future.

Invest in a Business

The toughest, and riskiest way to invest money is to invest in a business.  That’s because most small businesses fail after just a few years.  And many of the small business owners lose their life savings when their businesses fail.  If you are going to start a business, make sure you have a good plan and enough capital to get you started.  And if you don’t have any really good ideas, you can still invest in a business by buying an existing business.  Visit with a local small business broker to help you find businesses that are for sale.  Many successful businesses are sold because of disputes or because the owner needs to retire and doesn’t have an heir to their business.

These are some of the most common and easiest ways to invest your money.  If you didn’t find something that suits you, don’t worry, there are thousands of other ways to invest.  Here are some ideas that I can think of right now:

  • Antiques
  • Collectibles including comics and baseball cards
  • Storage Auctions – like on the show Storage Wars
  • Loan money to someone using an online site that helps people with small loans
  • Invest in a website or start a blog

Have any ideas not listed?  Please leave us a comment below.

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