There are many ways to diversify beyond Wall Street’s offerings:
- CDs (Certificates of Deposit)
- Bank at a Credit Union
- iBonds and/or Savings Bonds
- Residential Real Estate
- Commercial Real Estate
- Starting a Small Business
- Collectibles (gold, silver, platinum, art, vintage cars)
- DIY home improvement
Paying down debt is also an investment:
- Paying off (or paying down) credit cards
- Paying off auto loans
- Paying off student loans
- Paying down mortgage(s)
These debt-lowering options have the side benefit of improving your credit score and lead to a healthier credit report.
Additionally, there are “investments” that benefit your finances and offer other non-financial advantages.
- Education and training. Either self-taught or formal. (including reading this blog!) Increase your earning potential.
- Exercise, and healthy diet. The longer and healthier you live, the greater your potential to earn and prosper.
- Strengthen your social network. You will feel happier, more motivated, have more job networking opportunities.
Finally, there are methods to reduce and diversify your cost of living expenses:
- Learn to cook, grill, or otherwise eat at home more often. If you are persistent you may find you are eating better, healthier, and more economically.
- If you like coffee… brew your own. It may take time to learn what you like, but when you do you’ll love it. Whether it is is store-ground hazelnut drip, Vietnamese coffee with Chicory and sweetened, condensed milk, French Roast, or a plethora of other choices you will benefit.
- If you love high-quality craft beer, consider brewing your own. After the initial investment (~$200) you can brew your own for less than $4 per six-pack. Share it with friends, and grow your social network.
- Use those DIY skills to make your house more energy-efficient by installing low-E windows, LED light bulbs, and even update weather stripping and doors.
- Grow a garden.
I have employed all of these financial ideas except commercial real estate (not counting REITs), certificates of deposit, and gardening. My point is that it is possible to invest beyond Wall Street’s offerings. Wall Street now offers some great investments including ETFs, and excellent brokerage companies like Vanguard, Fidelity, and Interactive Brokers (for sophisticated investors). Finance and investing extends beyond stocks, bonds, ETFs, and Wall Street.