Investing is hard work. There are thousands of investment options, and there is a lot of bad advice that compounds the problem (pun intended).
One of the best things you want to invest is to stop, research and proceed with caution. It’s a fantastic idea to ask those who live and breathe investing what they would do in your shoes. The key here is to get a variety of professional opinions, weigh your options and make the right decision for you and your family.
I asked some of the top financial bloggers to reveal their best investments ever. I’ve already written about some of my best investments -– and some of my worst. I’ve even shared how unconventional investing –- like investing in your personal development –- can pay huge dividends. I think it’s time you hear from a few others.
1. Online Business — Steve Chou
The best investment that I ever made was investing money in my online business and my blog. The main difference with investing in your own business as opposed to a stock or mutual fund is that you are in control of your own destiny. And the returns are infinitely greater if you succeed.
For example, we invested only $630 into our online business, and it has generated millions of dollars in revenue over the past six years. Returns of this magnitude would not have been possible investing in stocks or mutual funds. And the best part is that I know that this money will continue to flow as I long as put in the time and effort.
— Steve Chou, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com
2. Tax-Free Savings Account — Tom Drake
My best investment happened back in 2011. I was looking to take advantage of my TFSA contribution limit (a Canadian program), so I eventually settled on Parkland Fuel Corp (TSX:PKI) for its generous dividend of over 9 percent.
Since that time, I’ve continued to receive that same dividend, and the market price has doubled. So even now, that stock can provide investors with a dividend yield of over 5 percent. To top it off, since the income and gains are sheltered in a plan, I pay no tax, even at withdrawal.
— Tom Drake, CanadianFinanceBlog.com
3. Roth IRA — Ryan Guina
My best investment is also one of my worst. I know that sounds contradictory, but making a big mistake early on shaped my future investments — in a good way.
One of my first investments was opening a Roth IRA with a broker who sold me a very high-cost mutual fund with an expensive front-load fee. This was before I knew much about investing, low-cost mutual funds or the fact that you could buy investments without a load. I think I ended up paying the broker a few thousand dollars for the “privilege” of investing in his high-cost mutual fund, a fund that more or less tracked the S&P 500 (^GPSC) but charged management fees in excess of 15 times what I would have paid had I used a low-cost mutual fund provider like Vanguard or Fidelity.
How was this also my best investment? Two reasons: 1) I got started investing. You have to take action if you want to grow wealth, and 2) after I realized my mistake, I began researching and learning more about investing. I transferred my Roth IRA to a low-cost mutual fund and have saved thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees. I am now a much better investor than when I started. My advice to everyone is to get started today. You will make mistakes, but you will also get better as you gain experience.
— Ryan Guina, TheMilitaryWallet.com
4. 401(k) — Peter Anderson
The best investment I ever made was probably the first one I made, not necessarily because it was a great investment — or the one that gave me the greatest returns — but because it started the process of me actually investing for my (and my family’s) future and thinking more critically about what I invested in. When I was first starting out in the working world after graduating college I knew next to nothing about investing or what investments might give me the greatest returns.
All I knew was that as I began my first job, I needed to start investing. I knew a lot of my friends weren’t, but instead they were enjoying their newly earned paychecks with late nights at the bar or on expensive vacations. For me, I just knew that time would be on my side if I started investing from the get-go.
When I started my first job, I remember going to a company meeting for new employees who wanted information about investing in the company 401(k). I attended the meeting, and although I was thoroughly confused by what they were talking about (What’s mutual about a mutual fund? Expense ratios? What’s an index fund?), I jumped in full force and started investing 10 percent of my paycheck every two weeks based on the advice I was given by a sales associate.
Looking back a few years later, that company 401(k) that I started investing in was not a very good plan — it was actually an investment plan offered by an insurance company that someone at the company thought would be a good idea. Unfortunately it was an annuity with high fees, and getting your money out of it proved to be a huge pain because you had to have the funds invested for a certain number of years — otherwise you’d have to pay extremely high surrender fees.
So while the investment may not have been the best because of the high fees, expense ratios, and surrender fees, it was still my best investment because it got me thinking in a long-term mindset, and taught me a valuable lesson about making sure to know what you’re investing in. Never invest in something you don’t understand.
— Peter Anderson, BibleMoneyMatters.com
5. Wife — Glen Craig
My best investment is a little offbeat. OK, maybe offbeat isn’t a good description. It isn’t a stock or a fund or even education or a business. It’s my wife.
Being with her, besides being truly awesome on so many levels, has truly transformed my finances and my outlook on money. With her I’m part of a team that works towards particular goals. We have four kids that we need to budget money for, both now and later on. My wife gives me focus as well as purpose financially.
“But an investment,” I can hear you asking? It takes time and work to see eye to eye with someone else and make sure your financial goals are in sync. It takes trust as well. You have to invest yourself in your spouse in order to do that.
Because of her, and our family, I have purpose when I’m putting money away for retirement. I don’t spend as frivolously because I know the family has to come first. We help keep each other grounded and can nudge one another when one of us strays financially (in other words she helps me keep my spending in check).
— Glen Craig, FreeFromBroke.com
6. Paying Down Mortgage — Bob Lotich
I have invested in a lot of stocks and mutual funds that have performed very well, but without a doubt my best investment has been in paying down our mortgage debt.
While paying off your mortgage early isn’t always the best investment from a numbers perspective, psychologically it often is. In my case, the (return on investment) that my wife and I have gotten from paying down our mortgage has been great. With no mortgage comes a wonderful feeling of security and freedom as well as the lifting of a huge financial burden. Add to that the comfort of knowing that our most expensive bill each month is our $150 electric bill, and I am fully convinced paying extra towards our mortgage has been our best investment to date.
— Bob Lotich, ChristianPF.com
7. Investing When Market is Down — Rob Berger
Warren Buffett says we should be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. Easier said than done. That being said, my best investment was when I followed Mr. Buffett’s advice.
In the depths of the 2008-09 financial crises, three industries were hit particularly hard: banking, transportation and real estate. Fear gripped many investors who sent prices of stocks in these industries down significantly.
At that time, I made three “greedy” investments. I purchases shares of Citi (C) (banking), Ford (F) (transportation) and the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index ETF (ITB) (housing). The purchases were not made based on a prediction of the market in the short-term. Rather, the investments were made on the belief that each would eventually rebound, resulting in outsized gains.
Over a two year period, these investments doubled in value. I only wish I had had the courage of my convictions and invested even more.
— Rob Berger, DoughRoller.net
8. Manhattan Apartment — Farnoosh Torabi
While I didn’t think of it as an investment at the time, buying a 400-square-foot studio apartment in Manhattan 10 years ago proved to be — mathematically, at least — the best investment I ever made. I sold the teeny apartment recently for 70 percent more than what I paid for it back in 2004. I would not normally call buying a primary home a financial investment, but in NYC, over the long run and on average, home prices have appreciated nicely. Now if only I could use that equity to buy a bigger place in Brooklyn .
— Farnoosh Torabi, host of the new daily podcast So Money on iTunes and author of the bestseller “When She Makes More.” Follow her on Twitter.
9. 401(k) — J. Money
My best investment I ever made was listening to my father 10 years ago and finally investing into my 401(k). It was the first time in my life I saw money actually pile up, and once I realized employers then give you money on top of what you put in, I was hooked. My pot grew from $500, to $5,000, to $50,000 and right on up to $200,000 before I left to go work for myself. Compounding is no joke with investing, and especially when you get free matches on top of it!”
— J. Money, BudgetsAreSexy.com and RockstarFinance.com
10. Walmart (WMT) Stock — Ben Edwards
My best investment to date was probably my very first investment. I started buying shares of Walmart stock through my grandpa when I was just a kid in the ’80s. Although the shares did earn me a nice return when I sold them years later, the bigger benefit was that it got me investing at an early age.
I used to check the WMT stock quotes in the paper every morning before heading to school and would jump for joy every time the stock would split. Not only was it a neat experience to share with my grandfather, it was also great exposure to investing concepts and how the stock market worked.
As I got older I learned about the benefits of diversification and started investing my money into mutual funds. As an adult, not all of my investing decisions have been perfect, but I’m definitely glad that I started putting money away when I was young and learned some good lessons about risk and reward.
— Ben Edwards, MoneySmartLife.com
Jeff here again. Hey, if these stories have inspired you, I encourage you to take action. Focus on one or a couple that make sense for your financial situation.
There was a common piece of advice in these stories — did you catch it? Start investing early. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to let compounding work its wonders. So, how are you going to start investing?Download