The word “invest” is linked exclusively to the stock market and retirement funds far too often. A lot of us think of 401(k) accounts and stock market portfolios as the easiest and best ways to put our money to work for us. These are viable options, and can work out well with the proper strategies and a touch of luck. But if you’re interested in investing some of your money and would like an alternative to the stock market, it’s important to know that there are plenty of other options out there. Here’s an introductory look at four of them.
Trading Precious Metals
We’ve discussed the idea of investing in gold before, noting that gold is worth putting into a portfolio because of its tendency to retain its value in times of hardship. It’s not a universal truth, but the value of gold will often rise when that of a major currency like the dollar or Euro falls. This is why gold is often referred to as a financial “safe haven.” The word “safe” is dangerous where investments are concerned, because any asset can turn on you. However, gold and other precious metals can be attractive to those who don’t want to invest entirely in the stock market.
The Forex Market
Another route for those who wish to avoid too much activity in the stock market is to get into currency trading—or, more formally, the forex market. This market invites you to buy and sell foreign currencies against one another’s value in the hopes of leveraging shifts for a profit. Comparing forex and stocks reveals some of the reasons that a lot of investors become interested in currency trading. Namely, the market is open 24/7, high liquidity can make it easier to gauge movement, and the low number of currency pairs that account for the bulk of activity makes for less information to keep track of. Like stocks or precious metals, currency can be traded online, and with relative simplicity.
Some might lump Bitcoin in with the idea of forex trading, but the truth is that more people are thinking of this pioneering cryptocurrency as a commodity rather than a type of money. It’s almost more like gold than it is a foreign currency. Through any number of reliable exchanges, you can purchase Bitcoin with your everyday currency, and sell it back if and when you’re able to make a profit on it. However, gauging movement in Bitcoin can be difficult. Some have forecasted 2017 as a big year for Bitcoin, but even those who are bullish view the alternative currency as more of a long-term asset than a daily trading option. Buying and selling is relatively hassle-free, but you’ll want to do your research.
If you’ve ever been curious about venture capitalism, this is an idea that might appeal to you. As explained in one handy overview, peer-to-peer lending platforms now exist to match up savers and borrowers, with the “savers” lending money to the “borrowers” who need the money either for personal pursuits or small businesses. Rates are set up for the borrowers to pay back the money with interest, meaning that if you lend to a successful venture, you could get a nice return. It can be a gamble, but it’s a refreshingly different approach.
There are plenty of other investment ideas that don’t fall anywhere on this list or in the stock market. Some people get in the habit of buying and selling real estate or fine art, or chip in on investing in a restaurant or a friend’s business. Still, investment methods outlined above represent some tried and true alternatives to the stock market that thousands upon thousands of people engage in every day.
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