When you’re watching Shark Tank, commercials on investment companies abound. When it’s time to start investing, how do you know what’s what? How do you know what to invest in? Multiple factors affect investing, from the state of the economy to how much money you have to invest. Here are seven great ways to start investing, whether you have a small or large amount of money to invest.
Bank products, like savings accounts, are a very reliable form of investment. As is the case with most reliable forms of investment, the return is going to be pretty minimal. At a general maximum APY (annual interest rate) of 1%, unless your savings balance is substantial, that 1% isn’t going to grow enough to make much of a difference. Bank products are readily available at any bank or credit union.
Angel investing in startups or with a venture capital firm is a higher stakes form of investing, best left to investors with a substantial sum of cash and a very keen eye for successful business opportunities. As a funder of a start up, there’s no guarantee of a return on investment. The business has to succeed to recoup an investment, and there’s no way to predict the size of the return, or for how long the company will profit.
Because a large percentage of businesses and startups fail, angel investing and startup funding is inherently risky. The potential for substantial return is what makes this appealing to discerning, affluent investors. Unlike the savings accounts and programs readily provided by banks, angel investing and VC funding opportunities are a “who you know” deal. Attending a festival like South by Southwest to network would be one way to gain entree into the world of startup funding.
Bonds are essentially I.O.U.’s from the government. You give the government money and receive a bond in return. These all have designated rates of return. The best rates are on longer term bonds with rates as high as 3%. Shorter term bonds are on par with savings accounts, but rates do fluctuate based on the kind of bond.
Bonds are a safe and stable form of investment. Safe and stable forms of investment, though, trade risk for a low return rate. For a beginning investor, US bonds are a safe way to start investing.
Perhaps the most traditional form of investing, the stock market is a staple for American investors. All publicly traded companies in the US are traded on either the NYSE or NASDAQ exchanges. Trading on the stock market can be as simple as selecting a company you believe will profit in the future, and buying their stock via an online trading platform.
Stock trading can also be throughly complicated. Trading in futures, shorting stocks, and the like are advanced methods of trading for experienced traders. This is to say that stock trading leaves room for anyone to hop in, whether interested in dabbling in reliable stocks with long term slow growth, or interested in faster moving, higher risk options.
Mutual funds split the difference between stock trading and a safer option like a banking account. Mutual funds are managed by a bank, broker, or company, and are a combination of stocks packaged into a fund chosen for their growth. Usually, stocks are selected based on balancing riskier selections with safer ones in hopes of maintaining stock growth.
Mutual funds also range in terms of perceived riskiness or safety and are available through banking and trading platforms.
Real estate investing is typically for people who are cash flow positive and have the capital put into the market. While it isn’t a 100% guarantee, both in commercial and residential real estate, the likelihood of a positive ROI is great. It’s essential to get into the market at a time that isn’t peaking. When the market is ballooning the bubble can burst and you can easily get stuck with an unwanted mortgage. One type of transaction that is unique and extremely profitable is to do a simultaneous close. When this happens, you are the buyer and the seller to a new investor or participant and it all happens on the same time on the same day.
Bitcoins were the first form of cryptocurrency to go mainstream, but there are hundreds of other options available, such as YoCoin and OneCoin, all ranging in value. Cryptocurrency can be traded similarly to stocks, but it’s not regulated by any government and traded solely online.
What is fascinating about cryptocurrency is that there is a finite amount on this currency, as it has to be mined. It is completely untracebale. There was a story of a man who lost a hard drive with 5 million worth of Bitcoin and when that was lost, the currency was irreplaceable. The mainstream is beginning to take a serious look at Bitcoin and other Crytpo options, accepting payments from larger corporations. Over the past year we’ve seen Bitcoin become the major player as the value of one coin has surpassed $1000. Simply buying and holding cryptocurrency, similar to stocks, can serve as a valuable form of investment.