Not long ago someone asked me what would be my top desired investments based on my In The Trenches experiences? This list is provided for discussion purposes only as I do not consider or purport myself near the level I could be and have had so many ups and downs that might lead some to coronary problems. I am often more of an observer and reader and am happy to pass on the observations I have made when my opinion has been asked. Opinions are free, everybody has one.
Here they are in order, but, I'm saving #1 until last.
2. Pay off debt. What? Why would I put that as an investment? Because of the interest that will ultimately be paid and a step to financial freedom. The quickest way to keep money and be able to invest in something is to be free of debt. Not only does it put more money in your pocket each month but the freedom allows one to come and go, change jobs, and make other financial decisions and risks without the overhead to consider.
3. Food storage plan. Whether this involves shelves in the garage, planting a garden or vegetables, or raising ones own meat all can save money, provide flexibility, and make one less dependant on the fluctuating grocery store prices. It is also a good way for those to begin saving who have had difficulty in the past. It's so easy to spend that $5 bill you have set aside but not as easy to trade a case of refried beans even though the value of the second may be more than the first.
4. Real Estate. This was the top investment of everyone I have known who has done well over the long term. Now with prices down there are plenty of good deals to choose from and investing in real estate now may save someone else from going through foreclosure while still increasing ones own balance sheet. A win/win deal can double the benefit. Most people think of residential property when the words real estate are mentioned and that is included but also there is timberland, agricultural land, and rental properties.
5. Agriculture and livestock. This is the only investment that reproduces on it's own sometimes 10 to 20 fold in a year. Some projects can be done in as small a space as your own backyard. Start small and reasonably so you can learn everything there is to know. Because these are living creatures they deserve all the love and care we can give them. Our efforts therefore need to be made with that as our top goal, not greed and potential profit. I have raised cows, birds, goats, and horses. A friend of mine had a very successful income from a pair of dogs. Another has raised many varieties of tomato plants and still another sells flowers and dahlia bulbs. My biggest mistakes came from not knowing or trying to move ahead too quickly.
6. Precious metals. The easiest way to start is with one ounce silver rounds available at any coin shop. I began buying in the depth of our hardship with 1 per month. It was a small goal but one I was able to keep. If absolutely necessary I could cash it in but because of the hassle of a trip to the city the temptation was not as great as keeping cash around the house. BUT, now is NOT the time. Prices are high. Let the speculators take whatever hit that may occur.
I have written blog posts on each of these topics so check the side bar if any have peaked your interest. There are heading under investments, food storage, real estate, etc.
And, now the most important and #1 investment:
1. Yourself, your family, and the causes you believe in. In the end, when all is said and done this will really be all that matters. Even if you are never able to achieve many financial goals it is your friends, family, and community who will remember the investments you made in them. This is the fullness of wisdom. In this I speak not of buying any pleasure or gift that one may desire at the moment or indulging every fleeting whim.
If a person loves music support it with an instrument or lessons. My friend loves quilting so she invests in fabric and makes beautiful items for her home and family. For some it will be books, education, sports, or other activities to use their talents or advance their skills. Even showing up to a teenagers football game and giving them a pat on the back is an investment in their future and well being. As I reflect on my childhood I remember those who always gave me a smile, made the best pies, and the lady who took the time to teach me to knit.
Another variation of this is to use money saved to start ones own business venture. Rather than taking on a big debt for an untried idea when starting small and learning along the way you won't be as apt to get in over your head.
Many contribute to churches, the needy, animal shelters, or other causes close to their heart. These things are what ultimately give a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Life is short. Live it the best we can and invest wisely with both time and money. When we do this we cannot lose on our investment.