Until late 2008, most adults were more than happy to dump their investment cash into the stock market. However, financial upheaval ripped the rose-colored glasses off most investors. It’s not that the stock market can’t make money when times are tight; it’s that most people just don’t understand enough about stocks to ride the tumultuous waves all the way to clearer skies.
Luckily, if you have a spare $1,000 to invest, here are ten ways to make a strong return without putting a dime in the stock market.
1. Win the Grocery Game
As of fall 2010, financial experts are extremely concerned about significant inflation. While you can easily cut back on incidental expenses, you still have to eat. Putting your $1,000 into long-term food storage could be one smart move if things keep going downhill. Focus on big ticket staples like butter, milk, meat, canned goods and dry goods. Buying a side of beef and a freezer big enough to hold it will easily pay off if food prices go through the roof.
2. Give Social Lending a Try
My small, but growing, portfolio of hand-picked investments at Lending Club is currently averaging a 10.92% net annualized return. Not too shabby, considering “high-yield” cash accounts are averaging about 1.30%, and even 30-year treasuries are only offering 4.25%. Be sure to check out my recent Lending Club review for a few secrets to success.
3. Seal the Holes
After food, housing and utilities are going to eat up a huge chunk of your monthly budget. If you need creative ways to spend $1,000, plug the leaky gaps around windows and doors, which is one of several ways to prepare your home for winter. Upgrading windows and doors should be your first step if you don’t already have double-pane energy efficient models already in your home.
4. Beat the Bad Job Market
Nobody is secure in their employment these day, it would seem. However, you’ll have a much tighter handle on your cash flow if you are in the driver’s seat. Start a side hustle with low overhead and invest that $1,000 to get it off the ground. Having a second income is great for supplementing your income, and a nice hedge against periods of unemployment.
5. Solar Solutions
You won’t be able to change our your whole house’s electrical system and live off the grid with $1, 000 . However, you can add some solar components that will give you lighting absolutely free. Start with your outdoor lighting, as that’s the easiest to upgrade to solar. You can also add components like a solar attic vent.
6. Get Self Sufficient
When times are tight, those who can rely on themselves will have dozens more options. Investing in self sufficiency is a smart move. Buy chickens and build a coop with your $1,000 and you’ll benefit from almost free eggs and meat. Start a square foot garden; dig a well; install a root cellar; buy a milk cow.
7. Educate Yourself
It’s not rocket science that people with degrees make more on average than those who don’t have credentials. These discrepancies are going to get even more obvious. Spend your $1,000 on some classes that can give you the leg up on the competition.
8. Appliance Appeal
Swapping older appliances for newer models can be a great way to invest that $1,000 . New appliances can cost as much as 40-50% less to run than models that were sold just seven to ten years ago. If you swap out several appliances, the savings can really add up over time.
9. Maid to Order
Spending cash for household help might seem a bit over-the-top. However, if you use the time savings to focus on other money-making goals, it can really pay off. A few hours that you don’t have to spend scrubbing floors can be turned into a part-time venture or money-making hobby that yields way more than the maid’s wage.
10. Invest in Their Future
Charitable ventures aren’t necessarily direct money-makers, but who’s to say what priorities your money should be spent on? Choose charities that truly provide a leg up. Buying a goat for a poor African family can give them a long-term way to get ahead.
You also might to consider investing in a micro-lending program such as Kiva.org that gives loans to overseas small business owners; the default rate for this truly leg-up investment is astronomically low, and imagine the lives you could change.