To many, the word “investing” immediately conjures up images of major stock-market transactions. The very idea of trying to do Wall Street-style deals can be intimidating, to say the least, especially when you already have the other challenges and responsibilities of an entrepreneur on your plate. In reality, however, becoming a first-time investor doesn’t have to be so daunting. By taking advantage of the right investment opportunities — as laid out in the following four steps — you can generate real income without needing to become a financial expert.
1. Get started with low initial-investment mutual funds.
Investing in a mutual fund allows first-time investors to diversify their stock-market risk by putting their money in a portfolio of various stocks and bonds. According to a blog post from The Balance, the SPDR S&P 500 Index ETF has delivered an annualized return of 9.51 percent since January 1993. Though not as lucrative as some individual stocks, this still represents a quality return.
The problem for some buyers is that many mutual funds require an initial investment of several thousand dollars. However, as noted by Investopedia, there are some mutual funds with lower initial investment requirements, and even some that don’t have any minimum in place. Funds are available with minimum purchase requirements as low as $100. Though you have a wider choice of funds with greater initial investments, this will allow you to start setting aside money each month toward something that delivers a greater ROI than a savings account.
2. Enter real-estate investing with wholesaling.
Home flipping is commonly cited as a great investment opportunity, but the cost of buying, repairing and then marketing a house can require a bigger initial investment than many are willing to make. If you’re concerned about the potential costs, wholesaling prevents a viable alternative.
Wholesaling is a process in which you will typically get a home under contract at a discounted price, then sell your contract to another real estate investor at a profit. This means you never actually buy the property, negating the need for loans or down payments. Most wholesalers will net a profit of $5,000 to $10,000 per sale when they can connect with motivated buyers and sellers.
As Michael Humphrey, founder and CEO of Premier Tax Liens advises in a blog post, “The trick to completing a successful wholesale transaction if you’re low on money or credit is establishing your exit strategy beforehand. Start by building your network and try finding a buyer early. If you’re not prepared to purchase the contract due to minimal funds, having a few potential buyers in mind can help ease some stress when coming to the end of your deal.”
3. Buy a blog to create affiliate income.
Though blogging can prove to be quite lucrative, it isn’t for everyone. A survey from Blog Tyrant reported that 59.3 percent of current bloggers have abandoned a previous blog they started. However, many of these sites did have some level of traffic prior to their abandonment. Some may even have generated a decent cash flow. Websites such as Flippa allow you to evaluate potential blogs based on web traffic and other factors to find ones that seem like a good investment opportunity.
When buying an existing blog, your best bet is to choose a niche that appeals to you so you can create new content to drive traffic and monetize your site by adding affiliate links. Many retailers offer 5 percent or more of the value of the sale to the affiliate in commissions, allowing you to make a steady income from your readers.
4. Enroll in retirement accounts.
It’s never too early to think ahead. If you’re fortunate enough to work for an employer that offers a 401(k), investing even a small percentage of your salary will help you set aside money for the future, particularly if your employer matches contributions.
For many entrepreneurs, however, an employer-sponsored 401(k) isn’t available. The good news is that you can still invest toward retirement with a Roth IRA or SEP IRA. Roth IRAs don’t offer tax deductions on your contributions, but you can contribute up to $6,000 per year and will enjoy tax-free withdrawals.
As CNN Money explains, SEP IRAs can be especially advantageous to the self employed. If you earn money through freelancing or a business, these tax-deductible traditional IRAs have a much higher contribution limit of up to 25 percent of your income, with a limit of $56,000. Self-employed individuals without employees can also invest in a Solo 401(k). Regardless of which option is best for you, these retirement accounts allow your money to grow in a carefully managed portfolio that is aligned with your targeted retirement date. The way your money is allocated will become more conservative as you get closer to retirement, ensuring that your investments are safe for long-term gains.
While you should always do your research so you can be well-informed regarding potential investment opportunities, getting over the first-time investor hurdle doesn’t have to be as challenging — or scary — as you might think. By utilizing these relatively straightforward opportunities, you can begin making meaningful financial moves to grow your personal wealth.