A cool thousand. It has a rather nice ring to it. Not quite as cool as a cool million, of course, but ten times cooler than a cool hundred. A good, round sum to invest if only because it makes calculating your gains easy. ‘Yes,’ you’ll be able to say in a year or two to anyone who asks, ‘I put €1,000 into whatever in 2016 and now it’s worth €4,320,’ and they will know immediately that you’ve made a 332% profit. Not that keeping the arithmetic simple is the primary reason to choose €1,000 as a logical sum to invest. If you are building up your savings with a view to long-term growth it makes sense to invest in ‘blocks’ because a) you keep the ratio between your costs and your capital relatively low, b) many investments require a certain amount of money before you can (or should) take advantage of them and c) it helps you diversify – in other words makes sure your eggs are not all in the same basket.
Before I put forward my list of Top 10 Money Making Things To Do With A Grand, a couple of general points. Firstly, the rich, as Scott Fitzgerald remarked, are different and not, as Ernest Hemingway replied, simply because they have more money - but because their main investment objective is to hang on to it. Wealth preservation and wealth accumulation go hand in hand. Some of the ideas that follow fall into the category of alternative investments. That means they are higher risk. You shouldn’t put your cash into them until you have a good spread of conventional, low risk investments in place such as a pension, property and bonds. Secondly, even if the amount you are investing is relatively modest – get professional help. This is doubly true if you are thinking of sinking your money into something like stamps, wine or gold. My experience is that the best experts are happy to offer free advice even if you don’t end up doing anything at all.
1. Turn €1,000 into €1,695 at the stroke of a pen
If you haven’t started your own retirement plan – you should. If you have (and it is a good one) you should be adding to it on a regular basis. From a long term, money-making perspective you couldn’t want a better investment because thanks to the tax breaks every €1,000 you put in will be worth between €1,250 (for a lower tax payer at 20%) and €1,665 (for the higher tax payer at 40%). Recent – 1999 - pension legislation means much greater flexibility, too, about how the money can be invested and how soon you can give up work and live a life of leisure.
2. The most profitable investment in the world
As the stock market has produced the highest returns over the medium to long term it makes sense to put a large percentage of your capital into shares. You can so this via pooled investments, index or tracker funds (see below for more information) or by choosing individual shares yourself. Whatever route you choose you if you mirror past performance you can look forward to some pretty juicy profits. For instance, the average return in the Irish stock market from 1974 up to 2006, was 17.4%. OK it has been a bit of a roller coaster since then, but we are still in the 3rd (soon to be 2nd longest on 30th April) Bull market in the history of the stock market – up over 200% since March 2009. These figures relate, of course, to the average annual return. Some investors will have done better than the market, others less well. The key point is, however, that with planning and patience – especially the latter with the recent hiccups in the ISEQ - the stock market represents an incredible money making opportunity. Look at managed funds – simple to understand and easy to operate. Three names to watch out – Irish Life Multi Asset Portfolio (MAPS) Standard Life’s MyFolio funds and Zurich’s Pathway funds.
3. Start or join a share club
An investment or share club is when a group of friends or work colleagues pool their resources and make buy and sell decisions together. Investment clubs regularly out-perform the stock market. It’s fun too – try www.ticn.com (investment club network) for details.
4. Turn €1,000 into €150,000!
Prize Bonds are Government securities (a joint venture with an Post and Fexco) which, instead of attracting interest, participate in draws for weekly cash prizes. You can encash these Bonds at any time. The amount of the prize fund is determined as a percentage of the value of the outstanding bonds, currently 2.4% per annum and the winnings are 100% tax-free. You can invest as little as €25 for a minimum 4 bonds and the largest monthly prize is €1,000,000 (every 8 weeks). The odds of winning on Prize Bonds are infinitely better than the Lotto.
5. Start coining it
According to specialists, Noble Investments, long term coin collections spanning a period of 50 years or more have achieved compound annual returns of 8.7% - 10.5% a year – which certainly matches or betters just about every major stock market in the world. Furthermore, short-term performance has also been strong. A random portfolio of gold and silver coins selected from a recent Spinks auction catalogue would have shown a compound annual return of 12%. Google the word numismatics
6. Stick your money somewhere lucrative
In terms of weight, stamps are the most valuable commodities you can buy. A well-balanced collection of stamps won’t, obviously, produce an income but should provide substantial capital growth. Two market indices – the SG100 Stamp Price Index and the GB30 Rarities Index – offer tangible evidence of this. Both track average prices and have shown annual increase of closer to 9.5% over the last 10, 20 and 50 years. Furthermore, postage stamps have always fared well in times of economic uncertainty.
7. Go for gold
If the so-called ‘gold bugs’, investors who believe passionately in the long-term value of buying gold, are right, then this could be a good time to add a little glitter to your portfolio. Over the last nine years the price of gold has more than doubled from US$850 to US$1913 (2011) a troy ounce but it is now at c. $1242 a troy ounce – volatility creates the market, the more unsettled the higher the price. It is better, by the way, to invest via a mutual gold fund such as the top-performing Merrill Lynch Gold & General Fund or Perth Mint certificate programme.
8. Try a little bondage
One guaranteed way to make sure that your money continues to grow regardless of any external threats to your wealth – such as a falling stock market, lower property prices or a recession - is to invest in bonds. What exactly is a bond? When governments, companies and other big organisations (such as the World Bank) need to borrow money they often do so by selling or ‘issuing’ bonds – most of which entitle the holder to a fixed amount of interest, referred to as the ‘coupon’. Bonds are bought and sold like shares and their value is linked to the amount of interest they pay and the amount of time until they mature. Safe.
9. Start your own private bank
The hot new thing on the internet is person-to-person lending. Basically, it allows private individuals to lend money to other private individuals at above average rates of interest and with a degree of security. A bit like setting up your own bank, really. Returns can be as high as 20% a year. The two best known sites are www.prosper.com (in the USA) and www.zopa.com (in the UK). Be careful.
10. Vintage profits
Can you guess how much 12 bottles of Le Pin 1982, which cost €280 the year it was released, are worth today? The answer is €108,456. That’s a gain of over 38,700% in 34 years. Naturally, not all wine investments perform as well - but over the short, medium and long term a well-chosen portfolio of wine should produce excellent returns. During the last decade, Decanter.com, another index that measures market performance, has shown an average annual return of 20%. Profit is not the only reason why wine makes such an attractive investment. If your investment fails to make you money, you can always drink it.
If you would like to discuss any of these ideas with me, I am only an email away. Remember, you should always take professional advice before making any financial decision.
John Lowe, Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, is founder & managing director of Providence Finance Services Ltd trading as Money Doctor and based in Stillorgan Co Dublin. He is author of The Money Doctor 2016 – 100 Ways to Save Cash (Gill) Tel +353 278 5555, email firstname.lastname@example.org or web www/independentfinancialadvice.ie. Follow John -Twitter(@themoneydoc) Pinterest,Google+, Linkedin & Facebook.