The 5 Best Cities to Invest in Real Estate


We are now in a global marketplace in many respects and it is just as easy to invest in stocks and shares across the globe as it is to buy stock in your own country of residence.

The number of international investors in property has grown at a phenomenal rate over the last decade and iconic cities like London for example, have seen a huge inflow of overseas funds as buyers of all nationalities try to but a bit of prime real estate in a major city.

London property prices have risen and you may take the view that there is still value to be had in buying real estate in the capital city of England or you might be of the opinion that things have overheated too much and there might be better opportunities elsewhere.

The key for investing in real estate is of course like any investment, in that you want to achieve a reasonable return on your cash over the longer term and maybe also enjoy some decent rental income in the meantime.

To be able to achieve both these goals, you ideally want to find a landmark location that is a magnet for city dwellers and tourists alike, and where a strong micro-economy helps to support a rise in property prices.


Barcelona is one such city that ticks all of those boxes and is a cultural centre as well as a vibrant modern city which enjoys a strong national and international reputation.

Barcelona is often perceived and sold as a city for beautiful people and it is attracting buyers as well when you look at the strength of the real estate market. There has been a concerted effort from the Spanish government to try and attract foreign investors and whilst the Costa’s struggle to rebuild its reputation for property values after the recession, the landmark European destination of Barcelona goes from strength to strength and well worth considering as an investment, however beautiful you happen to be.

Sales turnover is reported to have risen by 250% according to local real estate agents and a buy-to-let property in Barcelona seem to be on the radar for a number of investors.

Panama City

If you are looking for a dark-horse investment suggestion that is attracting the attention of enterprising investors, Panama is definitely worthy of consideration.

There are plenty of iconic cities which grab the headlines and have established property markets as a result, but Panama has a lot of the right conditions that could lead to a rise in property prices.

It enjoys a stable government and there is a vibrant entrepreneurial environment with tax-free zones to attract businesses. All of this, plus the fact that Panama actually enjoyed a higher GDP growth rate than China as recently as 2012, suggest that there are opportunities to invest in real estate.

Prices are still reasonable in comparison to plenty of other cities, with an apartment in a gated community for about $200,000 as an example of how far your money might go in Panama.


The next city on the list has in the past been considered a real boom-and-bust destination for your cash and there is no doubt that an element of hot air not related to the temperature outside did in the past help prices to rise and fall in large increments.

Prices have stabilised and then risen by as much as 30% since 2013 and this is creating more opportunities to invest in a city that is not to everyone’s taste from an investment perspective, but with strong demand, it is not a real estate proposition that you can dismiss lightly.

New York

Property prices in iconic and sought-after destinations like Manhattan in New York City are not exactly for the faint-hearted investors amongst us, but despite the stratospheric numbers being asked, the market is still on the rise.

New York and Manhattan in particular are a classic case in point of supply and demand continuing to drive up prices. Many people around the world aspire to live and work in New York and owning a bit of real estate in somewhere so highly regarded as Manhattan, means that if you have deep enough pockets, there still appears to be a strong upside to investing in real estate there.


The final city to make the top five is going to be a surprise to many and might even be a city that you are not familiar with.

Krakow is a city in Poland which offers an attractive medieval backdrop that makes it a magnet for tourists who love to wander around the well-preserved old town. The fact that Krakow is such as beautiful city is the icing on the cake, as it also providing some savvy investors with some attractive real-estate opportunities.

Many native poles have headed off into other EU destinations but this has created a situation where Krakow has been able to attract substantial EU infrastructure funds in order to develop properties and an infrastructure that is designed to attract blue-chip companies and entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of low-cost business overheads and an educated and willing workforce.

The news that so many multinationals are investing in Krakow is a big clue to the potential of the city and the fact that you can still find flats under £80,000 in the historic centre of the city, illustrates that whilst other more iconic cities grab the headlines, there could be money to be made if you cast your net a little wider.

Which Alternative Investments are Low Risk?


Trying to answer which alternative investments are low risk is something you need to do with plenty of caveats added, as you have to enter this investment arena on the understanding that there is no such thing as a completely safe investment.

That statement is based on the fact that you are essentially playing a qualified game of risk and reward and if you buy several gold bars for example, you are risking losing all your money if the value of gold drops to zero, but we all know that that is unlikely to happen any time soon.

So the question is what alternative investments should you consider where the risk of losing most or all of your capital is minimal and the upside offers the chance to enjoy a profitable return on your cash.

Process of elimination

One possible way to solve this conundrum is to use a process of elimination and define some of the riskier investments around, so that you can see what is left which might be considered a low risk alternative investment.

Options and futures are both considered to be high-risk vehicles for your cash and if you want a roller-coaster ride with your money, these two type of investment tick those boxes.

When it comes to alternative investments, there are numerous possibilities and if you are categorizing those that have the capacity to be more volatile than others and therefore considered higher risk, hedge funds, art, collectibles and royalty interests such as oil and gas leases, all have the capacity to bomb and skyrocket in equal measure.

You can of course qualify the risk and take steps to attempt to understand and limit the risk beforehand, by carrying out detailed research and qualifying whether the opportunity offers you a worthwhile upside in relation to the risk to your capital.

Collecting Art

The important thing to understand about collecting art as an alternative investment is that it is a market that almost always operates independently from the fluctuations of the stock market.

The two ways to look at investing in art are to either try and invest in an established artist or medium where prices show a steady and profitable return over the medium to long term, or to try and identify and invest in work from an up and coming artist before they gain universal recognition, offering you a potentially sizeable profit when values soar.

If you are trying to profile risk, it is fair to say that you can always find success stories such as an artist called Iain Andrews, who was profiled on a TV programme called School of Saatchi, and his works of art have subsequently risen 400% in value since that exposure raised awareness of his work.

It is also easy to find plenty of examples of artists who have failed to live up to their expected promise in terms of values, so the route to steady returns by taking slightly lower risks with your capital, is probably to invest in established art markets.

If you had invested in European 19th century Art for example, you might have been able to achieve a more than 200% return on your money over a ten-year period, if you had invested wisely.

This is a return that compares favourably to the returns from stock market investments, but you always need to be mindful of shifting trends in tastes with markets such as contemporary art.


Investing in wine can provide you with steady rather than spectacular returns and you can often expect to generate between 6% and 15% ROI annually.

Prices of certain vintages and fine wines will tend to fluctuate, but one point to remember about investing in wine, which can be perceived to be low-risk in the context of alternative investing, is that you will often invest in large quantities in order to generate a sizable return.

The thinking behind choosing wine and art as potentially “low-risk” alternative investments is that new investors from parts of the world where affluence is on the rise, are helping to create a steady and strong demand for these types of luxury items.

The Risks of Investing in Startups


This type of investing is known as either “angel investment” or “venture capitalism,” and is essentially betting on the future potential of an unproven business. Because these are new businesses, this type of investment is speculative and risky.

Angel investment and venture capital – A brief overview

Many business startups need lots of money to get going. They use this money to hire people, build products and market themselves, as well as for various other purposes. This financing is often provided by venture capitalists and angel investors in return for some ownership in the business. Startup investing is becoming more democratized, with crowdfunding allowing ordinary investors to start putting money into new businesses.

Differences between angel investors and venture capitalists

Although they are often mentioned together, there are some important differences between angel investors and venture capitalists.

Angel investors tend to be individuals who invest in businesses at their inception. They typically invest between $10,000 and $150,000 and may go higher if they are part of a group of angel investors. They may also be directly involved in the business and can provide contacts, experience and skills.

Venture capitalists tend to be companies dedicated to investing in other businesses. They will normally get involved after a business has launched, but before it becomes well known. They typically invest at least $1 million and normally require a seat on the board of the business. They don’t tend to get involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

Individual investors would be classed as angel investors, rather than venture capitalists.

Why it might be a bad idea

There are several reasons investing in new businesses is often not a good idea.

Failure rates – The main issue with angel investing and venture capitalism is that many startups fail within one to three years of launching. A small number of startups do make it big and become household names, but for every Google or Amazon, there are hundreds of businesses that fail.

Competition – The startup space is extremely crowded, and there are thousands of businesses trying to be “the next big thing.” The chances are slim that an investor identifies the ones that are going to be big, or even moderate, successes. It’s almost impossible to know whether a business is going to be the next Facebook or the next Friendster.

Hard to value – It’s difficult to work out the potential future value of a business. Because of this, it’s almost impossible to know what a return on investment is going to be, and how long it will take to realize any gains. This makes it very difficult to align this type of investing with life goals.

Prediction – Professional venture capitalists and angel investors have experience, expertise and insight. They spend a great deal of time, resources and energy understanding the marketplace, technology trends and other information. Despite this, they only make successful investments about a quarter of the time. Three out of every four startups fail, and even those that succeed are unlikely to provide massive returns.

Instead of investing in startups, it’s a much better idea to put money into established, high-quality businesses through buying stocks or other diversified funds. Proven businesses with a good track record are more likely to provide a good return that helps to build wealth.

How Do Mutual Funds Work?


Financial advisors often tell their clients to put the majority of their wealth in stock investments, because stocks have historically outperformed other types of investments over long periods of time. They also advise people not to but too much wealth into any particular stock, because committing a large amount of money to any single company can lead to a large loss of wealth if that company happens to perform poorly. Mutual funds are a common type of investment that can give investors exposure to stocks without putting too much money into any individual stock.

What is a Mutual Fund?

A mutual fund is a type of professionally investment where fund managers collect money from investors and use the money purchase a variety of assets such as stocks, bonds and commodities. Mutual fund investors receive shares with a value that is determined by the value of the assets that the fund holds. If the total value of the assets a mutual fund holds goes up, the share price of the fund rises and investors can potentially sell their shares to make a profit. If the stocks that mutual fund buys pay dividends, the fund may distribute those dividends to investors. Similarly, if fund managers decide to sell off some of the assets a fund holds and the sale results in a profit for the fund, the fund may distribute the profit to shareholders as a “capital gains distribution.” Investors must pay taxes on dividends and capital gains distributions received from mutual fund investments.

Types of Mutual Funds

Mutual funds come in three main types: stock funds, bond funds and money market funds. Stock funds invest heavily in stocks and often focus on a certain industry. For example, an energy mutual fund might commit all of its capital to stock in companies involved in the oil and gas industry. Index funds are a type of stock fund where managers purchase a wide range stocks in an attempt to provide investors with returns similar to the overall performance of a certain stock market index. Bond funds are mutual funds that invest heavily in bonds which may be high-risk, while money market funds invest in low-risk and short-term investments.

Advantages of Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are a popular alternative to investing directly in stocks because mutual funds spread risk across many different underling investments, a practice known as diversification. A single mutual fund might hold stock in hundreds of different companies. Even if a few of the stocks turn out to be bad apples, the mutual fund may still go up in value if other stocks it holds go up in value. A mutual fund can give individual investors a level of stock diversification that would be impossible for them to achieve by buying individual stocks.


Despite their advantages, mutual funds have a few drawbacks with respect to stocks and other investments. The biggest drawback of mutual funds is that they charge fees to compensate managers. Fees are often expressed as an annual percentage called an “expense ratio.” For example, if a mutual fund has an expense ratio of 0.25 percent it means that fund deducts a quarter of a percent of the value of your investment each year to pay fund managers. Funds impose the expense ratio regardless of whether they produce a return for investors.

Should You Buy Tax Liens Online?


The purchase of real estate tax liens offers annual returns far in excess of stock market investing, and the investor is given a chance to take title to the underlying real estate if the tax lien is not paid on time. When a real estate owner fails to pay his property taxes, the county government issues a tax lien against the property. The owner is then given a statutory redemption period of one to three years (depending on state property law) in which to pay off the tax lien, including unpaid taxes, penalties and interest. Some county governments, unwilling to administer debt repayment themselves, auction tax liens to private investors for unusually high interest rates.

Tax lien sales are held throughout the United States, and it is becoming increasingly common for tax lien sales to be held online. A tax lien is a debt, not a deed. The winning bidder becomes the creditor of the real estate property owner, and the owner must make payments to him. If the tax lien is not paid within the statutory redemption period, the holder of the tax lien may foreclose on the property and either take title to the real estate or sell it to a third party. The Internet is filled with online subscriber databases that provide details of tax lien sales from coast to coast. One you have subscribed to such a database, you can begin searching for tax lien sales in your area or in areas with distressed real estate markets. As soon as you have found tax lien sales that interest you, you should contact the county governments that administer the tax deed sales that interest you for further details such as registration and bidding rules.

Since tax lien sales are offered in nearly every state, you should take into account several factors when determining which tax lien sales to participate in. The first factor is convenience. Narrow your options to tax lien sales that are being held near your residence, or those that offer online participation. The second factor is the interest rate, because some jurisdictions are more generous than others (in many cases it is possible to secure interest rates well in excess of 20% per year). Many jurisdictions offer tax liens to the bidder that offers to accept the lowest interest rate. A third factor is the length of the statutory redemption period, because that is what determines how long you will probably have to wait to receive full payment Furthermore, the shorter the statutory redemption period, the less likely the property owner will be able to pay off the lien, increasing the chances that you will end up owning the property. Other factors include the amount of the minimum bid amount and the amount of any security deposit.

It is possible for a tax lien investor to gain title to real estate by waiting for the property owner to default on the tax lien upon the expiration of the statutory redemption period. Nevertheless, it is unwise to invest in tax liens for the primary purpose of eventually taking title to property, because owners almost always pay off their liens before the statutory deadline. If you are primarily interested in taking title to real estate, you should search for tax deed sales rather than tax lien sales. Tax deed sales occur when county governments that hold tax liens foreclose on a property at the end of the statutory redemption period.

Tax lien investing offers the advantages of unusually high interest rates, secure collateral, and online purchasing. The beauty of this investment strategy (other than the ability to consistently beat the stock market) is that investment opportunities are plentiful during economic downturns. This reality makes tax lien investing the ideal way to hedge your investment portfolio against the uncertainties of the business cycle.

How to Trade Commodities


Commodities are the materials that are the foundation of an economy. This includes things like oil, grain, lumber, gold, gas, and corn. We have a whole section of our website dedicated to commodities trading.

How does it work?

Investors can trade in commodities in several ways, including:

  • Investing in a “future” in that commodity – This is a contract that promises you will buy or sell a particular amount of a commodity at a certain price at a date in the future. (If you’re an individual with a futures contract, you’ll need to trade it to someone else before it becomes due so that a truck doesn’t come and drop 12 tons of corn on your driveway!)
  • Investing in an ETF or fund – There are a number of funds that invest in companies that use or produce particular commodities or that track the price of the underlying commodity.

What are the risks?

  • Volatility – Commodity prices can vary drastically in very short periods of time (for example, the price of oil dropped by over half in 2014-15); this can introduce a very high level of risk.
  • Instability – Emerging markets, worldwide financial news, and many other factors can significantly impact the prices of commodities.
  • Speculative – Most individual investment in commodities is at best speculative. Typically, individual investors won’t have enough information to know how much the price of a commodity is going to rise or fall over a specific period of time.

If you want to trade commodities, what can you do?

Commodity trading isn’t recommended for new investors.

If you want to invest in commodities directly, you will normally need a specialized brokerage account that will let you trade in commodities futures.

We recommend Plus500 – one of the most recognized brands in the market and they have a great $20/25€ welcome bonus (T&Cs Apply). They offer a CFD (contract for difference) service which allows you to speculate on the price of a commodity. This is a high-risk option though and you should bear in mind that your capital is at risk.

3 Methods of Creative Real Estate Financing


Traditional real estate investing involves the purchasing, managing, owning and renting of property.  This is a for profit model. This model defines real estate investments as an asset with limited liquidity. This is true of comparable investments that you may choose to invest in. For instance, potential investments in the stock market are good for comparison. Real estate investments are limited by being dependent on a cash flow. If you look closer at real estate investments there are excellent investment opportunities.

Obtaining Financing

Partnerships are a common way of obtaining financing for real estate. It is the way a lot of young real estate entrepreneurs go about financing his or her project. By finding someone who can put the money up and split the profit fifty-fifty is ideal. This also limits your risk and makes the money go further.

Hard Money Lenders are companies that have the money upfront and ready for you to borrow. This is usually a good alternative to traditional banks. The reason this is true is regardless of credit score you can usually get money upfront and quick. Be aware, these lenders do not like to lend more than 65% of the fair market value of a property. This is a good incentive to find better deals on property, because; it will give you more options.

Private Lenders are an even better alternative to getting a cash flow. This is because; you can often arrange the terms of repayment with a private party. They can also be anyone and everyone. Such as a friend or extended family. In this case, everyone wins. By offering a better rate of return than your lender can get on his or her savings or mutual funds. Not to mention there is security in the real estate property.

“Subject to” Financing originates from a clause that states, “subject to existing financing.” Here you leave financing in place and take over the existing mortgage payments. Your name will not be on the loan. It will stay in the sellers’ name, so this is not an ideal way to conduct business. This is a good strategy for people who want to invest right away and have poor credit.

Wholesaling or Flipping

Using the method of wholesaling or flipping you cut out the need for financing. You will begin by obtaining a property that needs fixing at a discount. Then fix it up and sell it to another buyer or investor for a quick profit margin. There is no need for an excessive amount of cash. You do not need to hassle with financing or credit either. This makes this an ideal way to make the most out of your investment. It gets rid of several headaches that surround your typical financing options. Plus it gives you the ability to make a cool quick profit.

These are just a few quick ways to create creative investments in real estate. This is a lucrative business. Some of the world’s richest people made his or her fortune in real estate. It does not matter if you flipping a property or making a long term investment. There are plenty of opportunities waiting.

10 Top Tax Saving Tips


With tax season fast approaching, we wanted to help you to make sure you have your affairs in order to ensure you are paying the correct taxes.

Any time you make money or spend money, Uncle Sam seems to be waiting nearby to take his cut. Taxes take a bite out of every paycheck you earn, every investment you sell and every penny of interest you receive. Despite facing taxes on all sorts of financial activities, almost 80 percent of taxpayers in the U.S. get tax refunds at the end of the year. Following a few basic tax tips can help you maximize your tax breaks to cut your tax bill and ensure you get the biggest refund possible.

1. Choose the Right Filing Status

Your tax filing status is one of the most important factors in determining the amount of tax you owe. The IRS recognizes five filing statuses: single, head of a household, married filing jointly, married filing separately and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. If you are married, filing jointly is almost always the way to go since joint filers face more favorable tax brackets and deduction rules than separate filers. If you aren’t married, filing as a head of a household instead can yield major tax savings if you quality. To be a head of a household you must have paid for more than half the cost of maintaining a home for yourself and qualifying person–a dependent child or family member.

2. Compare your Standard and Itemized Deductions

The IRS lets you claim a standard deduction that exempts a portion of your income from taxation. If you claim the standard deduction, you can’t claim any of the various itemized deductions the government offers, which include things like property taxes, charitable contributions, business expenses and home mortgage interest. If the sum of your itemized deductions is less than your standard deduction you are better off claiming the standard deduction. The standard deduction is $6,300 for single filers and $12,600 for joint filers in 2015.

3. File and Pay on Time

No matter what filing status you choose and which tax deductions you claim, it is important to pay any tax you owe and file your return by the filing deadline of April 15. Failure to pay taxes on time can lead to a tax penalty of 0.5 percent of the unpaid amount per month it remains unpaid. The penalty for filing late is 5 percent of the taxes you owe per month. You can apply for a 6-month extension of time to file if you think you won’t be able to file your return on time.

4. Save for Retirement

Putting cash aside for retirement is one of the best ways to cut your tax bill in the short term and the long run. Money you set aside in retirement plan like a 401(k) or tax deductible individual retirement account is not subject to income tax and account earnings are tax deferred. Tax deferral means you don’t pay taxes on your savings, even investment gains, until you make withdrawals. Delaying taxes can save you thousands of dollars because it lets your nest egg grow faster and you may face a lower tax bracket during retirement.

5. Claim Dependents

Each dependent you claim on your tax return grants you a tax exemption of $3,950, subject to certain limitations for higher income taxpayers. A dependent can be either a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. A qualifying child is a child under the age of 19, a student under the age of 24 or a totally disabled person of any age that lived with you for more than half the year and did not provide more than half of his own support for the year. Qualifying relatives include children, siblings, parents and grandparents of any age who live with you, have a gross income under the exemption amount ($3,950) and for whom you provided more than half of their support for the year.

6. Claim Above-the-line Deductions

The IRS lets you claim certain adjustments to income, commonly called above-the-line deductions, whether you choose to take the standard deduction or not. Common above-the-line deductions include self-employment taxes paid, alimony paid, IRA and health savings account contributions, up to $2,500 of student loan interest paid and $4,000 of student tuition and fees paid. Deductions for student expenses are subject to certain income restrictions and other limitations.

7. Invest Long-Term

When you sell an investment like a stock holding, you have to pay capital gains tax on your profit. The amount of capital gains tax you pay depends on how long you held the investment: if sell an investment within a year or less you pay capital gains tax at your normal income tax rate which can be as high as 39.6 percent. If you hold an investment longer than a year, you won’t pay more than 20 percent in capital gains tax; low and middle income taxpayers generally face long-term capital gains rates of 0 or 15 percent.

8. Don’t Flip your House

The tax benefits of holding investments long term extend to the sale of your home. If you live in and own a home for at least two of the past five years before selling it, you can exclude $250,000 of the capital gains you make from taxation as a single person or $500,000 as a joint filer. If you buy a home and sell it before living in it two years, you’ll pay capital gains tax on any profit you make from the sale.

9. Investigate State Tax Deductions

State governments offer an array of tax deductions that are separate from those offered by the IRS. You may be eligible for various state tax deductions, such as deductions for charitable giving, even if you did not itemize your federal tax return.

10. Consider Off-Brand Tax Software

TurboTax and H&R Block are the giants of the tax filing software industry, but other tax filing software packages may be cheaper for your particular filing situation. Products like TaxAct, TaxSlayer and TaxHawk may provide all the functionality you need at a fraction of the cost of the big name brands.


Taxes are one of the largest annual expenses the average person faces and while you can’t avoid paying taxes altogether, a little bit of knowledge and wise decision making can significantly cut your tax bill. If you go back and discover a costly mistake or tax break you missed on a past return all is not lost: you can file an amended tax return within 3 years of the original return to correct errors and the government will send you any additional refund you are due.

6 Retirement Planning Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)


No one ever said that planning for retirement would be easy. There are so many things to consider, and so many things that can get in the way. Retirement mistakes are all too common, and making one could set your  retirement off course.

Whether you are new to the workforce or are already dreaming about retirement, knowing about these potential pitfalls can help you save more and enjoy a more comfortable retirement.

1. Waiting to Get Started

The longer you wait, the harder it will be to save for retirement. It can be tempting to put it off, especially if you just started working, but keep in mind that it will only get harder as you get older.

Lots of things will get in the way as your career advances, from marriage and children to buying your first house. Making saving for retirement a priority from day one will make all other aspects of your financial life easier. Time is definitely on your side when it comes to saving for retirement. A 25-year old worker could retire a millionaire by saving just $200 a month. A worker who waits a few decades to get started would have to put away thousands of dollars every month to reach the same goal.

2. Not Ramping Up Your Contributions

The most important part of saving for retirement is simply getting started, and you can get started with very little money. Simply putting aside $20 out of every paycheck can get your retirement savings off to a great start.

As you progress, however, it is important to ramp up your contributions. One of the simplest ways to do that is to sign up for the automatic escalation program in your 401(k) plan. These programs automatically increase the percentage you contribute year after year. That creates a painless way to save and build a nest egg for retirement.

3. Failing to Set Specific Goals

Everyone has a different picture of what retirement will look like. Some people envision a lifetime of travel and adventure, while others would prefer to stay closer to home. Some people plan to work part time after retirement, while others want to enjoy a life of leisure.

Those different retirement scenarios require different goals, and all good retirement plans need to include those specific goals. It is not enough to come up with a ballpark figure. You need to sit down and plan your nest egg. There are plenty of retirement income calculators on the Internet. You can use those tools to determine how much you need to save before you can start thinking about retiring.

4. Fearing the Stock Market

This one is easy to understand. After all, the stock market has gone through a couple of scary declines in just the last decade. Those precipitous drops have been enough to scare many young people – who should be actively investing – away from the stock market.

At Alternative Investment Coach, we’re not anti-stockmarket, we simply try to educate people about the other opportunities that exist beyond stocks and shares. That doesn’t mean that the stock market itself can’t offer opportunities for the right kind of investor.

There is no reason for those with a decades-long time horizon to fear the stock market. While it is true that stocks can fall sharply, they can recover just as quickly. Many investors know that the stock market lost more than half its value in the Great Recession. What they may not know is that stocks have since recovered all that lost ground and gone on to record new all-time record highs. A well-diversified stock index fund should be able to weather the ups and downs of the stock market and come out on the winning end down the road.

5. Trying to Time the Market

Trying to time the market can be just as dangerous as failing to invest at all. Even experts, who are paid millions of dollars to predict interest rates and stock prices, frequently fail. Individual investors have almost no chance of timing the market over the long run.

Keep in mind that successful market timing means you have to be right not once but twice. You need to accurately identify the top of the market and sell all your stocks and mutual funds. Then you have to just as accurately determine when the stock market has hit its bottom and reinvest your cash. You may get lucky once or twice, but over the long term market timing is a losing strategy.

6. Borrowing from Your 401(k)

Borrowing from your 401(k) just might be the biggest retirement blunder of all. Taking money from your 401(k) can derail your retirement planning for decades. You may think that since you are paying the money back to yourself that taking a loan against the 401(k) is the best strategy, but that is rarely the case.

When you borrow from your 401(k), you stop your retirement planning in its tracks. You may not be able to contribute any more money until the loan is paid off. That means you miss out on all the money those investments would have made. If you have any other option at your disposal, you should use that option to get the money you need. Borrowing from your retirement plan should be an absolute last resort.

7. Failing to Diversify

Diversification should be an important part of your retirement planning strategy. Failing to diversify is one of the biggest retirement blunders, and it can happen at any time in the planning process.

Many young people fail to diversify by having too much of their money in safe investments. Young people have plenty of time to ride out the ups and downs of the stock market, so tilting heavily to stocks makes a lot of sense.

A lot of older workers make the opposite mistake. Many of those older workers have been investing in the stock market for years, and enjoying all those great returns. They may be reluctant to scale back that stock market exposure, even as they near retirement. Those pre-retirement workers could benefit from a rebalancing – taking profits from those stock market winners and moving the money into safer and more stable investments.

5 Creative Investment Ideas Beyond the Stock Market


With conventional investment avenues underperforming and economic uncertainty on the horizon, canny investors are constantly be on the lookout for unusual ways to invest their money. Here are some creative ways to see your money grow that other investors may have missed.

Let Your Money Mature – Into Cheese

It might sound strange, but investing in young cheeses is actually quite common in parts of Europe, although it hasn’t caught on so much in the rest of the world. Investors tend to buy ’rounds’ of young cheese that could weigh 25lbs or more. These cheeses are then left to mature over a couple of years, by which time an initial investment of $1,000 could have matured into a tidy sum of $5,000. That is, if you can resist the temptation to eat your gains before you cash in.

Build Up A World-Class Wine Cellar

This is something that elite investors know all about, but ordinary investors can also try at home. Like cheese, many wines tend to increase in value as they mature. In fact, the most reliable vintages are tracked every year on a ‘fine wines index’ that rates them just like blue-chip stocks.

When a wine is deemed to be investment grade, returns for investors can soar to as much as 30 percent every year. Savvy wine investors research which vineyards consistently turn out high quality products, and know how long to wait before cashing in. Again, the major enemy is the urge to indulge.

More on fine wine investment

Invest In The World Of Horse Breeding

Many wealthy people turn to stud breeding to turn a tidy profit. Ordinary investors may not be able to afford a fully-blown stud farm, and they might not stand in the winner’s circle with their steed, but they can participate in the market. Owners’ partnerships are a way to spread the costs and risks of race horse ownership and allow those with moderate funds to invest to see their money multiply.

It might be a little risky, but recent years have seen prize purses soaring in the United States, and the potential gains are huge. A good way to get over the costs of entering the market is by joining the new movement to crowd-fund horse ownership. Nowadays, you can join pools of investors and see exactly where your horse will be stabled — all at just the click of a button.

More on bloodstock investment

Collect Big On Currency Hoards

In these times of instant digital transactions and Bitcoins, it might be surprising to learn that investors can make big money by collecting good old coins. Sales of ancient coins have been skyrocketing in recent years, probably due to rising demand from Asian investors. These investors may well be ‘repatriating’ coins that were taken from countries like India and China in past centuries – and it’s big business.

A solid way to invest in coins is by enlisting the services of boutique investment firms that specialize in currency collection. Firms like Avarae in the UK have armies of experts working to verify and value coins found by treasure hunters. Some of them, like the 14th  century Gold Double Leopard coin can sell for over $500,000.

Join The Ranks Of Memorabilia Investors

It’s not just coins that have the potential to yield impressive value. The same applies to military memorabilia. Clever investors know that the value of memorabilia such as flags, armor or medals fluctuates in value. For example, a Napoleonic era medal would have sold for around $200 ten years ago. Now, because of rising public interest in the era, that price has risen to around $4,000.

Experts tend to recommend focusing on high profile medals, which have a track record of increasing in value. Anything with a link to the Marines of World War Two tends to fetch a good price, but authentic flight jackets, autographed photographs of military leaders and the correspondence of military personnel can also rise in value, and probably will. Web sites like the Worldwide Militaria Exchange are a good place to check out what’s on offer, but you never know what you might find in your attic.

Look Beyond The Stock Market For Your Next Investment

It may be a cliché, but investing successfully is definitely about thinking outside the box. It’s also about diversifying so that you can spread the risks, and possibilities as widely as possible.

Most investors fail to realize how many opportunities they have to make money and beat the stock market. Stocks are one way to invest, sure, but they are hardly the entire economy. In tough times, there is always value somewhere in the market, but it might smell like an artisan cheese or have the elegance of a military medal.