10 Alternative Investments You May Not Have Considered

The stock market is where most people consider investing their money, but in an uncertain and shaky market you feel squeamish about putting your money there. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do with your money to invest it apart from stocks. Just remember, anything you invest in will have some level of risk. Make sure that you are comfortable with your investment before you go committing your money to it. Here are 10 alternative investments that may not have crossed your mind.

  • Buy or Trade CurrenciesThe Forex, or foreign exchange, market has exploded in the last few years, with day traders getting involved and profits going through the roof for those who do well. This is similar to stock trading, but with global geopolitical conditions the way they are, there is plenty of volatility if you want some excitement in your trading.  Etoro is a broker that lets you trade currencies.

  • Buy Items to Resell – There are tons of people making money on sites like Ebay by buying things when they are being cleared from stores or on websites and reselling them at higher prices. You can use Ebay or other auction or sales sites, or if you are really enterprising you could start your own site or store to do the same thing.

  • Buy Precious Metals– This has also become popular in recent years with the price of gold skyrocketing. You can set up a retirement fund that invests in gold and silver bullion or other commodities, and some mutual funds will do the same. Precious metal prices tend to move independently from other financial markets, making it an attractive investment for many.  Precious metals can be bought via the futures market by using a broker like OptionsXpress or by purchasing physical gold and bars from a website such as apmex.com.

  • Rental Properties – With mortgage rates being at historic lows, buying property is a good investment. Rental properties do come with downsides, however. Your cash is not very liquid at all, and the maintenance can take up a lot of your time and energy. You may want to look into a property management company to take care of the maintenance for you, just make sure that the cost is worth it. There’s no point in spending all of the income you get on maintaining the building. If done right, this can be a very profitable long-term investment. About.com has a good section going into this in more detail.

  • Non-publicly Traded REITs – These tend to be more stable than publicly traded real estate investment trusts, because they don’t move with the stock market. They pay dividends based on rents paid by the tenant to the building owner, or REIT companies. Changes in interest rates also don’t affect these, since the rent amounts are set by the lease agreements and don’t change due to market fluctuations or actions from the Fed.

  • Invest in Oil or Gas – This type of investment offers good tax benefits, letting you deduct a part of the
    expenses of private, independent projects like drilling costs, depreciation, and depletion allowances. This will be a major investment opportunity to watch in the coming election year, as many are pushing for more lenient regulations on drilling. Depending on the results of the elections, there may be the possibility for an explosion of new drilling in the coming years, providing you with an unprecedented opportunity. Oil can be bought using futures contracts. OptionsXpress offers these contracts.

  • Invest in Your Career – Taking continuing education courses or learning new skills to help in your career is a great investment in your future. You can make yourself more marketable to employers and deserving of increased pay. You can also branch out into new areas of opportunity either within your current career or in a related field.
  • Start or Buy a Small Business – There are many options to consider in this area. You could start an online business, which would be the least expensive way to go but require some learning or expertise to make it profitable. Starting a small brick and mortar business could also be viable. A great option is buying an existing small business from someone who is retiring or leaving the business, particularly if it is barely profitable now but you think that you could increase that profitability. A final option could be to invest in someone else’s idea for a small business in return for a share of the company.

  • Buy Antiques or Collectibles – Antiques go up in value over time because of rarity. You could use the antiques as decorations until you decide to sell. You can also find deals through estate sales. This would require a little research to know what is actually considered “antique” and what is just old. Art is another investment that will increase in value over time. Stamps and cars are also collectibles that traditionally increase their value due to scarcity and demand. All of these will demand some homework from you to make them profitable.

  • Pay Down Your Debt – If no other investment opportunity stands out to you as appealing, paying your debt down or off is a fantastic investment in your peace of mind and future. Debt and financial problems are the biggest causes of stress in the majority of Americans, and relieving yourself of this pressure is an investment you will be glad you made. I wrote a post on discussing whether you should pay down debt or invest here.

Whether you choose to invest in the market, one of the alternatives mentioned here, or in some other venture, make sure that you have carefully considered your options. Do you know of any other alternative investments that could produce good returns without too much risk?

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