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Five Alternative Investments to Real Estate

Five Alternative Investments to Real Estate

Real Estate is a great investment for a variety of reasons including the tremendous tax benefits. However, you might not want to be a landlord or you’re just looking for alternative investments to real estate. Below are Five Alternative Investments to Real Estate.

5. Fixed Income Investments

Fixed income investments include bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs). Bonds can be further broken down into categories: governmental and corporate. Fixed income investments are called fixed, because you know exactly the amount of income they will produce.

The rate is fixed.

For example, you might buy a corporate bond with a $1,000 face value with a 5% yield that matures in five years.

You’d get paid $50 per year and then at the end of five years you’d also be paid back the $1,000 initial investment. Governmental bonds work the same way.

Advantages to Fixed Income Investments

Consistent income–you know exactly how much income you will receive and when you’ll receive it.

Bonds and CDs, in general, are also considered very low risk.

A person who owns bonds for a company in bankruptcy will be able to get a “piece of the pie”, if there is any pie left over, after secured creditors but before some other investors, such as stockholders.

Disadvantages to Fixed Income Investments

Fixed income investments tend to have a much lower return when compared with riskier assets.

CDs do not allow you access to your money for a fixed amount of time (less than five years) without paying a penalty

While bonds are generally considered low risk, specific bonds are rated based on their likelihood of being repaid, with AAA rated bonds being those most likely to be repaid.

Of course if you buy the bonds of a company or country that is insolvent or on the verge of bankruptcy, you could still lose all your money.

Bonds are subject to interest rate risk if, for example you purchase a bond fund, rather than a bond you don’t hold to maturity. If bond rates go up, the yield on the bond you own could be lower than what is currently available. As a result, others will not buy the bond from you except at a discount, this will force you to either hold your bond to maturity or potentially sell the bond at a loss.

Fixed income investments are subject to inflation risk. If the value of the currency you are being paid in decreases, even if there is no nominal loss, you may lose significant purchasing power.

Ways to Make Fixed Income Investments

You can purchase US government bonds directly via Invest in a CD at your local bank or credit union. You can purchase bond funds, either private government or both via ETFs (exchange traded funds) or mutual funds. You can even buy bonds from foreign countries. Fixed income investments are just one group of alternative investments to real estate. 

In addition to peer to peer lending, stocks, mutual funds, CD’s, commodities, and cryptocurrencies and other alternative investments to real estate, there is the real estate investment trust or REIT. REITs aren’t an alternative investment to real estate, but an alternative way to invest in real estate.

4. Stocks

The price of the stock (or ETF or Mutual Fund) can go up if people are willing to pay a higher price. Stocks can also pay dividends, in which holders of the stock given a portion of the companies proceeds. These dividends can either be reinvested in the company or kept, or invested in other companies.

Advantages to Investing in Stocks

Stocks tend to produce higher long term returns than do fixed income investments. Stocks will tend to do better than fixed income investments during periods of high inflation.

Disadvantages to Investing in Stocks

Stocks tend go up and down in price with more volatility than fixed income investments. A company could go bankrupt and the shareholders could lose all of their investment. If the price of a stock goes down, it may never recover in price. Buying a stock for its dividend, the company could decide to cancel the dividend, you would of course keep any dividends paid out, but not receive future dividends.

Not all companies are able to produce a profit and stay in business and if the company you own stock in files for bankruptcy stockholders are the last in line to receive any of the remaining assets of the company.

Stocks are also subject to interest rate risk, if interest rates rise, that tends to put negative pressure on the price of stocks.

How to Invest in Stocks

You can open a brokerage account at a variety of companies. I like where they are known for their very low cost mutual funds. 

If your employer offers a 401(k) you can invest in stocks through that program, although you will likely be limited to a small number of mutual funds.

3. Peer to Peer Lending

With technology, people don’t need to go to a bank or their rich uncle to get a loan. There is the relatively recent phenomena in which individuals lend (more) directly to other individuals via Peer to Peer (P2P) lending.

These loans made to small businesses, individuals wanting to pay off student loans, credit card consolidation, or any number of purposes. This can be considered a sub-type of fixed income investing, but it merits its own category because fo the types of loans this opens up.

Advantages to Investing in Peer to Peer Lending

You can learn more directly how the money will be used. You have more control over what kind of activity you are supporting than if you lend money to the government or a corporation. 

The returns of P2P lending can be higher than other fixed income type investments. For example as of May 2019 some debt consolidation loans made to AA borrowers yield upwards of 7% for a 3 year term. A 3-year United States treasury bond, by comparison, only yields about 2.3%.

Of course the US government is considered a rock-solid borrower, so the 4.7% premium of the prosper lender reflects the fact that they are less likely to repay the loan.

The minimums tend to be lower. Some P2P marketplaces allow you to invest as little as $25. If you’re mistrustful of banks or the government you might find cutting them out of the equation desirable.

Disadvantages to Investing in Peer to Peer Lending

The loans you make could be riskier than other types of investments. If you make an un-collateralized loan to someone with a low credit score, you might not get repaid. If you decide to make a loan, but want your money back before the loan is scheduled to be repaid, there might not be another buyer who wants to purchase the loan from you or there might only be buyers who will purchase it from you at a lower price.

There is also interest rate risk just like other fixed income investments. Because you are investing in individuals, if the economy tanks and joblessness increases, the chances of being repaid are less, as compared to a governmental or corporate loan, where they tend to have more resiliency.

I think there is also some regulatory risk with P2P lending. Although they seem faired entrenched now, regulatory agencies could crack down on them in the name of “safety” or “terrorism”. When in reality it is just to force borrowers back to banks.

How to Invest via Peer to Peer Lending

There are a variety of P2P lending sites, such as and upstart. I’ve personally used and it works fine, but I don’t have other P2P sites with which to compare.

2. Precious Metals

Technically one does not “invest” in commodities because the purchase of gold, silver, or palladium doesn’t pay a dividend or yield (same can be said of many stocks). However, I think it is an overlooked asset class, and this is my website so I get to make up the rules.

The government of the United States is highly indebted, many huge programs such as social security and medicare are underfunded. Debt amongst individuals is high, as well as debt in States like Illinois and California. Pensions are also underfunded.

Governments invariably try to increase taxes to pay for these programs, but that won’t work. The next option will be to monetize the debt, that is create the money out of thin air and use it to bail out these programs. The results will be a reduction in the purchasing power of the dollar. Gold and Silver are a hedge for when this happens.

Advantages to buying Precious Metals

Stocks and bonds are highly correlated. Precious metals are less correlated to the stock market. You also have less to worry about in terms of bail-ins. There is no counter-party risk to physical precious metals in your possession.

Companies and currencies come and go. Gold has been valued for thousands of years and there is no reason to believe that will change.

Disadvantages to buying Precious Metals

In the Unite States at least, if your PMs go up in price and you sell, are subject to taxes, and they are taxed not at the lower capital gains rate, but as income.

There are no earnings or dividends when it comes to precious metals.

If you own physical bullion it could get lost or stolen. The United States government has in the past violated its own constitution and confiscated gold and could do so again.

How to buy Precious Metals

You can buy gold and silver through ETFs and mutuals funds. I don’t recommend this. You can also buy physical gold and silver bullion, or bullion grade jewelry. If you do buy physical gold or silver, it is important to keep it in a secure location. 

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1. Cryptocurrencies

Getting into Real Estate

Getting into Real Estate

I’ve been taking concrete steps to get closer to investing in rental property. While I consider myself experienced in precious metals, stocks and mutual funds, I am very much in the early stage of learning about real estate. In this article I’ll share what I’ve done so far.

Action 1: Found a mentor and started building a network

I’ve taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about real estate but I don’t want to try to figure it all out on my own. I’ve reached out to an individual who is experienced in real estate investing who is open to mentoring me and I’m looking forward to bouncing ideas off my mentor and leveraging the knowledge of this experienced professional.

I’ve also been talking about real estate investment with a good friend who recently began purchasing properties. This friend closed on a house that will be rented out and is gracious enough to answer my questions and share experience.

Action 2: Attended a real-estate investing workshop

I attended a free real estate investing workshop put on by the Rich Dad company. This was interesting but not very practical. They did A LOT of sales, trying to get you to buy books and attend one of their three day workshops. I expected as much, after all, they aren’t really doing this for free. But I was hoping to glean more actionable information.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going to one of these Rich Dad workshops unless you plan on spending upwards of $300 to purchase their training and/or materials.

Action 3: Started Listening to the Bigger Pockets Podcast

I don’t gain anything by promoting Bigger Pockets. My real estate investing friend recommended I start listening to their podcast. I also signed up for their newsletter and got a copy of their free “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing” which I’ve been reading through.

It’s got me thinking about different ways I can get into real estate investing.

On such way is “house hacking”. I’m considering buying a duplex, renting out one side, and living in the other side. This could allow me to live rent free and learn the basics of buying a property before I move onto something bigger.

My Next Steps

  • Determine how much capital I can raise to make a down payment on a property.
  • Learn what locations close to my area are optimal for investment.
  • Research loans rates and lenders.
    • Get a handle on my credit rating.
  • Develop a network of potential partners interested in investing in real estate with me.
    • By pooling capital I can invest in a larger property and potentially get more scale, versus sticking with duplexes and single family homes.

So that is what I’ve been doing as I research getting into real estate.

Buying Rental Property

Buying Rental Property

Buying Rental Property and Real Estate has helped create many a millionaire. Robert Kiyosaki, Barbara Corcoran, and even Donald Trump amassed fortunes via Real Estate.

Buying rental property is an investment that hits on three out of five of my Investment Goal Categories: Capital Appreciation, Preservation of Purchasing Power and Passive Monthly Income.

At it’s most basic level, investing in rental property consists of buying a property and then renting it out to gain monthly income.

I don’t directly own any rental property at this time but it is an area I’m investigating and learning more about.

Buying Rental Property has Five Great Benefits

1) Passive Monthly Income (Cashflow)
2) Equity Build-Up
3) Leverage Utilization
4) Very Favorable Tax Benefits (in the US)
5) Appreciation

Let’s explore the five benefits of buying rental property.

Passive Monthly Income

Buying Rental PropertyIn many areas it’s feasible to purchase a rental property that generates positive cashflow each month. Even after making a monthly mortgage payment, taxes, fees and maintenance expenses, a good rental property can be have net positive cashflow from the rent payments of the tenants.

This meets one of my investment goal categories of passive monthly income.

Equity Build-up

Many banks will loan qualified persons enough money to purchase a rental property but typically require a 20-30% down payment. By renting the property you can use the rental income to pay the mortgage and continue to build equity in the property until you own it outright.

With equity in a property you have the option to choose between selling the property, taking a loan out on the property and re-mortgage it, or simply hold onto the property and continue to enjoy the monthly income.

Leverage Utilization

By taking out a loan to buy a positive cashflow rental property you are leveraging the capital you have to make more money. For example by using $16,000 for a down payment you could purchase an $80,000 property and rent it for $600 per month. Lets say after making the mortgage payments, paying property taxes, and other expenses, you are bringing in $150 per month in cashflow. At the end of the year that $150 monthly income would be $1,800 from a $16,000 investment, or over an 11% return. And that doesn’t even include the increase in equity.

Because of the use of leverage, price inflation actually reduces the cost of the remaining loan balance over time. This combined with the universal human need (and hence demand) for shelter even when the economy is not performing well makes buying rental property a great investment for preserving purchasing power.

Tax Benefits

I’m not a CPA or tax advisor, but I understand that when it comes to investment properties, mortgage interest, depreciation of the property, and other expenses that go into maintaining the property are tax deductible. Often times the 11% profit can be made tax free because of all the deductions the tax code (at least in the US) provides to real estate investors.


Partly due to price inflation, partly due to an increasing population and demand for housing, real estate prices tend to rise. So it is possible to grow wealth because the value of the property has gone up. While this is more on the speculative side of the housing and real estate market, appreciation can be a very nice bonus.

This meets one of my investment goals of capital appreciation as well as preservation of purchasing power.

What has stopped me from Buying Rental Property in the past?

  1. Capital I need money for a down payment. Most of my savings go into stocks and I want to buy a rental property with new money. So I’m going to start earmarking money for buying rental property. While it might be possible to buy a property with zero down I think this is reckless and irresponsible. It’s a good way to find yourself underwater on your mortgage. By making a 20% down payment you can weather a 20% drop in the value of the property and still be even in terms of equity. Plus if the property is cashflow positive, even if you are not making money via appreciation, you can still make money via cashflow and equity building.
  2. Knowing how to make an offer I would like to better learn how to coordinate having a loan pre-approved with making the offer. With real estate you have to be able to move quickly. In some markets if you go eat lunch to think it over the property will be sold by the time you get back.
  3. Maintenance Costs and Expenses If you know purchase price of a property and how much you can rent it for (by looking at similar properties being advertised in the same area) and what your costs are going to be you can determine if a property will be profitable (or not). However, I find the most difficult part to research is estimating maintenance costs. The hot water heater breaks, furnace needs repair, a crazy tenant tears up the place, etc. As someone who has been a renter all his life I don’t have a good sense of how much I need to budget for maintenance costs for a rental property. These costs are a huge factor in the profit and loss calculations.

There are five great reasons why real estate investing is a superb way to build and grow wealth. I’ll be sharing my progress in the coming months as I continue to learn more about real estate investing.