How to invest money: [DIY] essential guide

Ho to invest money

Reading time: 19 min.

Gathering information to learn how to invest our own money should not be so difficult

Actually, it is

My two goals: writing a complete guide on “how to invest money D-I-Y”

and

make you walk out of this page with something actionable (if not I failed)

I consider generating cash flows that are not directly related to my active work a necessary, gradual and legal process

Tl;dr:

  1. Do something. Inaction is your enemy

  2. Assess your money problem (read how to)

  3. Establish your risk tolerance

  4. Set a time horizon

  5. Scan all the D-I-Y investing possibilities (below)

  6. Avoid dangerous investments (list below)

  7. Enjoy long term financial happiness (the best part)

People often ask me, “How to invest money?”

How do I start investing online?”

I’m not a financial advisor, but these are questions that can be answered in many ways.

I’ll try to give a useful response, also making you aware of the risk involved in some investing activities.

The most important thing I can tell you is to be selective and to read as many opinions as you can before making up your mind.

My problem was to find profitable and not too dangerous ways to invest my savings in autonomy.  

In the last years I went deep into this problem and I’ve made some very interesting discoveries. I’m about to share it avoiding overly technical language.

I want you, reader, to have something actionable in your hands at the end of this long reading.

Leaving cash idle for me is worse than a taking a fair share of risk - Cash left idle is always going down in value Click To Tweet

I should warn you, those who want to become “rich now” are reading the wrong post!

Today I’ll conduct an in-depth analysis of the achievable passive and active income streams that can be generated online through investments.

I want to establish, once and for all, what works and what is better to stay away from.

Let’s dive right in!


⚠️

Warning:

Be Skeptical of this post. Read other blogs. Ask questions.

Trust your abilities. Learn by yourself.


What is an investment?

Investing you put money in something expecting more money in the future.

I believe that investing is not an optional activity and I would not let others do it for me.

I am able to take care of my assets and I think everyone should have enough information to do that too.

Investing and Trading have very different meanings and are often confused.

Trading is normally used to address the act of trading stocks or similar assets.


Problem/solution

Some years ago, my money was left sitting uselessly in my savings accounts.

Like most people I kept searching for the savings account paying the highest interest, but it was getting more and more difficult to get a reasonable return.

I was losing reasons to save and I knew I had to do something. I was interested in financial topics, but starting DIY (do it yourself) investing was a real challenge.

I really wanted my money to work for me, so I took responsibility and started my path.

Here, I will tell you what has worked for me so far.

I will also tell you my mistakes, so that maybe you don’t make the same ones.

learn from others mistakes

This blog will help you make the most of the opportunities in front of you by giving you the tips and tools of the trade, but no advice. There is an excess of people giving free advices.

Take responsibility. Ultimately, the key is you. Nothing is free.

In order to earn money online while you sleep, you must have done the job (or some research) beforehand.

The key is just to know what to do and how to invest online properly and safely when possible. It’s not rocket science.


At this stage, you might be thinking:

“I don’t have much money to invest”

The truth is, there is no need for big money to start investing successfully online. The deal is not “how much” but “how”.

I started considering that even building an additional cash-flow of 250€, 500€ or 1000€ would have been a great reason to go on. That figures were achievable, so I set my targets and started investing.

The secret lies in the words of Mr. Theodore Roosevelt:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are Click To Tweet

I was always waiting for the right moment to come, but inaction has a price, so I eventually decided to take action.

I read, study, test, invest, make mistakes, learn and (eventually) earn money from investments.


Foreword:

I should state from the get-go: This blog is not a substitute for financial advice. I am not a financial advisor, and I do not dispense advice on what to invest in. Instead, I will tell you about my personal experience in investing and what I think of some specific tools I use or avoid.

There are 6 different types of income streams:

  • Income from buying and selling

  • Income from dividends

  • Income from capital gains

  • Income from royalties

  • Income from interests

  • Income from your work

I will only analyze a few of these income streams in this blog – particularly the ones that are rather “hands off.”

The most powerful strategies for me are those that generate cashflow by simply investing. Yes, it is achievable.

It takes 4 key ingredients to invest:

Ingredients for investing

  • Some capital

  • A little knowledge (DIY) or a trustworthy advisor

  • Risk tolerance

  • Weekly/monthly maintenance work


Let’s go back in time to just a few minutes ago, as if we were in a movie:

…you are at your keyboard.

You are sitting there with the best intentions, and maybe even with a small amount of money ready to be invested.

Great, go ahead!

You clearly know you NEED to do something as soon as possible to make your money work for you (and not the other way around forever). You know that going to the bank will not get you far. In fact, it will probably only serve to make some financial planner richer.

You are sharp enough to realize that managing your money is YOUR responsibility, and you don’t want to outsource the solution.

So you start at the basics and ask Google:

“How do I invest money?”

how-to-invest-search
Real time web search suggestions. Most suggestions address to stock markets investment.

Your voice is quiet. You feel insecure, maybe even slightly embarrassed. What a silly question! What if someone overhears you? What would they think?

After all, you are thinking that it is impossible to earn money from home with nothing but your computer.

That is too difficult for you.

Yes, you know people working online – but this is different.

How can you really learn how to do this?

Investing is complicated, all those numbers and charts, hmmm.

Who are we kidding, you’re not Gordon Gekko and you never be, you think to yourself.

That stuff is far too complex for you, right?

But still, you’re intrigued. You can’t help it!

So, you start to scan the search results again.


First page of Google, first confusion.

It seems that “investing online” rhymes with “trading online” and Forex.

Careful! These are probably the most dangerous ways for a beginner to start investing. This is a rookie mistake. I’ve seen it happen a hundred times, and it is always the same old story.

People decide they want to get into investing, and it starts like this:

  1. They search the web
  2. They contact the first trading broker that comes up on their browser
  3. They transfer money
  4. They feel a rush of self-confidence after they’ve made their first payment
  5. They don’t give themselves time to learn
  6. They don’t find the will to learn
  7. They lose the money they’ve invested
  8. They shout out: “online trading is a scam!”

And there ends their brief and hopeless “Do-it-yourself investing experience”

But don’t worry – I am here to make sure this won’t be you!

Now, let’s get back to our web search.

where to invest money
Suggestions at the bottom of the search page also focus on stocks/fast/good/make money

You’re smart enough to discard the shiny results like: “How to make money fast/immediately” or “Get rich in 5 days” and so on.

You already know that you’re wasting your time today and, if you can, you’d like avoid losing money too. You are not that gullible. Good, carry on.

On the first result pages we’ll probably also meet the super-mega-guru and his 100 proven methods to earn money fast and easy. Pretty soon you realize that the super-mega-guru is selling you something.

How can it be? A few minutes ago, you were the one about to make money online. Now you have to pay to make money?

You’re a smart guy so, bye bye guru!


Now that you know what not to do, let’s buckle down and work out how to properly invest online

The investing world is crowded with people ready to offer you a “solution” to your investing problem..

Guess why.

Indeed, Google, Facebook and YouTube search results for “How to earn online from home” and “How to work online” have always been crowded with people trying to respond to sell their “super-strategy.” And be warned, some of them are very good at ripping you off.

Of course, there are plenty of great expert out there, who are happy to freely share what they know. But as with many things, the beauty of the web is in the details.

Don’t rush. Allow yourself time to understand, but don’t lose focus.

It’s fair to buy online courses but beware you won’t buy knowledge by just paying.

You have to study, test and keep learning. Will you do that?

In my blog, I will try to contribute to the positive online investment community by freely sharing what I’ve learned so far on my path to financial freedom.

There is nothing on sale here, and as you can see, there are no advertisements or disturbing banners on this website.

Let’s move on and be careful, because most of the search results on the first page can be crypto currency swopping websites, binary options scams, Forex platforms, and the ubiquitous multilevel marketing (MLM, the worst thing ever).

Statistically, about 9 out of 10 users approaching Forex lose money. Why should you be in the “golden boy”?

If you really feel to give it a try, do it with money that you are ready to lose and don’t cross that limit.

forex dangers
Before approaching Forex “like a rockstar” take some time to learn how to do it

Binary options are very popular but are out of my area of focus. I write about investments – not gambling dressed up as investing.

I should state that 80% of the smartest  investment strategies available online are only applicable in the US, and not in Europe.

Some just get lost in poetic words about frugality. I have a great admiration for smart and frugal people, but it is just not the solution to the problem we are trying to solve today, which is investing.

Also think there is a cap to what you can save but there is no cap to what you can earn, so I also try to focus on the second one. If you live in the first world being frugal will set you free, but in developing countries it may not be enough if you want to apply some western standards.

Today we need something actionable that we can start right away. In other words, something to do and not just to read.

At the end of this article I want to have provided you with real inspiration, not just words.

I remind you that you are here because you have a problem to solve. You are hungry to invest online wisely. So, let’s start at the beginning, by asking the basic question:

How do I invest online for retirement and my future?

Let’s analyze the available options.

If you’re under 50, you know you’re going to have a “very light retirement check”, so you’d better start planning for it now.


Let’s go back to the web search, because more confusion comes in when the super-mega-guru mixes up the terms “working online” and “investing online.”

Working and investing online are two different things, though they do have some points in common.

We usually think about working online or through the web, if this is the tool that interfaces us to the market and to our customers.

If I’m an Uber driver, even though I don’t make money at the computer, in fact I work thanks to the web. In other words, I am “working online.”

But if I have a capital, even a small amount, and I decide to invest in startups, stocks, bonds and social lending, then I’m actually “investing online.”

Hybrid situations are all those where the investment leads to a job to do.

In this area we find for example:

  • Buying a money-making website to fix it, improve it and sell it
  • Creating an info-product website
  • Affiliate blogs (e.g. Amazon)
  • Marketing other’s people products or services
  • Buying and selling items on websites like Ebay or Etsy
  • Buying and selling web domains
  • Starting drop-shipping

Today we are talking about online investments, so it’s better to have some money ready – even small amounts – to invest. Making money from scratch is more complicated.

Free passive income does not exist. In fact, you will always have to do something, and above all, “know how to do” something in order to create additional passive income streams. This means that if you have initial capital and you learn how to manage it before spending it, then you can think about passive income building.

It’s also true that you’ll still have to do some “maintenance work” from time to time, as things change over time (Subscribe to the newsletter and get new ideas related to this free in your inbox).

They say that on average with 350,000 euros you can generate an income that may allow you to stop working and live frugally in most countries. Of course it depends a lot from you habits and from where you live.

In all honesty, I think this may be too optimistic; I’d rather stick to the rule of 25. This rule seeks to determine how much money you’ll need to save for your retirement. The 25 Rule estimates how much money you’ll need in retirement by multiplying your desired annual income by 25.

Another formula useful to understand the problem is the 4% rule   (it indicates how much you should withdraw annually once you’re retired).

To apply it to your own situation, simply write down your annual expenses and multiply by 25. You’ll see you get a pretty big number. This is roughly the amount of money you’ll need to retire. To get to this big numbers the only why for ordinary people is to take advantage of the compound interest.

But if you are smart enough to invest wisely right now, you can set yourself up to live comfortably forever. Is it worth it? Sure it is! Especially if you don’t like your job or if you work long hours right now.

I love this numbers! How can you not? Let’s see what to do.


LIST OF REAL WAYS TO EARN MONEY INVESTING


Invest in Real Estate [using the web] ⭐️⭐️

This is one of the most common and overrated ways to invest.

There is nothing wrong with it, per say, but everybody knows that to buy real estate you normally need a significant amount of capital.

The other downside is that the money will be stuck in the investment for long time and will not produce any immediate profit.

The biggest mistake is that “average Joe” confuses the purchase of his first home with investing in real estate. Buying the first house and go to live in it is seldom a super-profitable deal, especially if it is an expensive house.

Beware that the appreciation of house prices is not something that can be forecasted easily. I’d say it is impossible in most cases – so why should you be “the enlightened one”?

In fact, property prices in many parts of Europe might be set to decline due to the negative balance between births and deaths.

If nothing changes, fewer houses will be needed in the future, especially in the suburbs. In addition, property taxes can heavily affect yield and are not set to become any lighter anytime soon.

For these reasons, buying a property, especially with a long mortgage, is no longer the golden ticket it once was in the past and is not a liquid investment. Even if I know the feeling of owning “bricks” and “square meters” can be tempting.

Okay, so real estate investment isn’t as fool-proof as you might have hoped. But don’t despair.

There are solutions. Many alternative solutions.

One alternative is to search for properties to buy abroad.

Why?

The chance of getting the best possible real estate deal not far from your town are low. There is the entire world out there so it is potentially very profitable to look abroad – but not even too far.

There are websites that allow you to get extremely detailed information about real estate markets abroad from an investor’s point of view.

Of course, real estate investing ranges from:

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Land

So now, how to choose?

I should say, if you are not an expert, it is better to stick to the most common and basic real estate – that is, residential.

I’ll tell you, personally, I let a golden opportunity slip me by back in 2006 when I went to Budapest to buy an apartment to let it out. But at the last minute, I let fear of the exchange rate get me and I ended up with not buying the property. Big mistake. It was very cheap and rents were high. The exchange rate has been rather stable in the last decade and there was a notable appreciation of the property prices in the center town.

If a similar opportunity comes your way, I advise you to consider it carefully – you may have a winner in your hands.

The real estate game can be:

  1. Search for an undervalued property in a healthy market

  2. Fix the properly and make it beautiful

  3. Rent the property fast

  4. Try to sell it making profit or hold it

rental yield europe chart

Websites like this and Numbeo and similar ones are great free resources for prospect RE investors[/caption]

Take aways:

Think outside the box. Search for properties in alternative ways.
Study how real estate investing works through free web resources like BiggerPockets podcast or the like.
No money to start? Get inspired! In the US they talk a lot about starting with low budgets and renting out mobile homes first, and then move to bigger deals. You can do the same if it is allowed in your region.
Check out websites like Numbeo and GlobalPropertyGuide to study the market and find out the best deals for you.

Beware of properties that are away from big city centers. In case of a real estate downturn those are the ones who suffer the most.

Effort required (starting with little money): High

My danger level: Medium🌶🌶


Investing in real estate with little money [from the couch]⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So, you have a passion real estate? Would you like to buy a house without leaving even leaving your own home?

You can!

There are some new financial technology tools that allow you to invest in real estate from your smartphone by participating with a fraction of the total investment.

These are called “real estate crowdfunding”. The operation is quite complex but returns can be interesting.

Investing this way, you can have a slice of an apartment for rent in Madrid, a tenth of a two-bedroom apartment in London, etc., all without all the real-life hassles of managing an individually-owned property.

The truly groundbreaking difference with this strategy is in the zero-management effort required.

You don’t have to:

  1. collect the rent
  2. think about restoring damage
  3. paint the walls
  4. search for responsible tenants…

Just forget everything, because someone else will do that for you.

Meanwhile, you can make profits from the rents, from property revaluation, and from other factors that add up. Unfortunately, the European platforms that allow property investment in crowdfunding are few and far between. I will mention only those that are reliable or popular.

Let’s get to the actionable!

In Europe, the most famous RE crowdfunding site is Housers (9% yield).

It has many pitfalls, from my point of view, but it is by far the most popular.

The one I love the most is EstateGuru. Average yield is almost 1% per month (>12% yearly), it is liquid, easy to use, and I like their bridge loans with low LTV. Read what I recently wrote about EstateGuru.

If you want more websites with higher yields and higher risks, then I suggest Crowdestate (16%) and Bulkestate(14%)

One key factor to keep in mind before investing in this kind of real estate is LTV.

LTV stands for “loan to value“. Easy example: if a property costs 100 euros and I make a down-payment of 40 euros, then my LTV will be 60%. LTV above 80% are to be avoided.

The profitability of the deal must be higher than 6-7% per year, otherwise I believe there are other more interesting and liquid investments than real estate crowdfunding nowadays.

Effort required: Low

My danger level: Medium/high🌶🌶


Investing in Real Estate stocks [through REITS]?⭐️⭐️

The Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) was established in the USA in the 1960s to support real estate growth. It is taxed in a peculiar way and is essentially a very long-term investment.

So how does REITS work and what is the average REITs yield?

I should say that due to the actual economic cycle, most REITs may be heading towards a negative period.  This is due to the inevitable rise of global interest rates, which may reduce the benefit of investing in REITS for now. These investments have long benefited from low interest rates, but now everything is about to change. The good news is that not all REITs are the same.

Let’s get to the actionable stuff!

Here are three basic examples of REITs that I follow/invest/follow for my portfolio:

VANGUARD REIT INDEX FUND (VNQ) (low-cost, huge, diversified)

FTSE EPRA NAREIT Asia Dividend  IASP.MI (because it is related to Asian real estate)

EQUINIX REIT –  EQIX.O (because it is the REIT of data and servers, a booming sector)

This is NOT a trading recommendation.

Effort required: Medium

My danger level: Medium🌶🌶


Invest in preferred stocks [ETFs]⭐️⭐️

Preferred shares or stocks are somehow halfway between a bond and a stock. There are different types and can have a few advantages:

  • Preferred shares pay an agreed-upon dividend at regular times
  • Investors of Preferred shares are payed dividends before others
  • When interest rates are low Preferred shares may be more convenient than bonds

Picking single preferred stock can add risk to this practice for non-experts, so it may be wise to adopt ETFs that collect more stocks inside.

ETFs examples?

  • First Trust Preferred Securities and Income ETF
  • iShares US Preferred ETF

Effort required: Medium/High.

My danger level: Medium/high 🌶🌶


Benefits of social trading⭐️

Social trading is hotly debated. It could be a great tool in theory, but unfortunately, it is crowded with people ready to rip you off.

What is social trading?

Well, a social trade platform offers something that everyone would like to have.

It is like having a friend that makes money by online trading and gives you all his secrets explaining how he does. And voilà! You can just copy your friend’s investments automatically!  Isn’t that great? It might be, but hold your horses – there are things to know, commissions to pay, and your greed to control.

copy investments

Social trading is like a social network for investors, where you are authorized and welcome to copy the most “popular investors.” I’ll say it right now, it is wise to copy only investors with a long track record and a low risk profile.

The most famous and discussed social trading tool is eToro. ZuluTrade is an alternative to eToro and there are a few more. I have been an active user on eToro and I still check it out sometimes to scoop investing trends and to see what others are doing. eToro has millions of members worldwide and is also authorized to operate from Cysec (Cyprus). In addition to being able to copy other’s people investments, it offers funds called “Copy Funds”, with minimum investments of 5000 USD.

eToro is potentially very risky because it offers a mix of very dangerous assets right beside ordinary stuff. It is definitely oriented to beginners but also potentially dangerous.

Effort required: Medium/High.

My danger level: Medium/high🌶🌶🌶


Why not to invest in High Yield Bonds⭐️⭐️

That is a very broad subject. You’d need a book just to introduce the most basic information, so I’ll just go straight to the actionable and to what we need to know today.

In recent years, bond yields have decreased and high yield bonds (somehow dangerous) are getting expensive and less convenient. There might be a bond bubble, there might be not.

But like I said, this is highly technical stuff, so for now, let’s just get to the actionable without going further into the subject.

Since investing in bonds is recommended only for experts, I’ll just mention a few ETFs  to make things a little easier for student investors. I’d never mention single bonds to prevent certain misunderstandings.

Let’s get to the actionable:

Since picking single high yield bond can add risk to an already risky practice, it can be wise to use mutual funds an cheap ETFs.

Here are some ETFs examples, ordinary tools that that “I follow”. This are not too expensive to run and still have nice yields:

(USD, and not all fiscally harmonized in Europe)

  • WisdomTree Emerging Markets High Dividend Fund
  • Vanguard Emerging Markets Government Bond ETF
  • Invesco KBW High Dividend Yield Financial ETF

Beware, they have nice yields because they also invest in what are called “junk bonds” or emerging countries – so beware of the risks associated with using these tools. This time, too, there’s no free lunch.

Again, this should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell anything. Study, understand and wait until you feel confident or ask for advice.

Effort required: High

My danger level: Dangerous🌶🌶🌶🌶


Invest in exotic bonds in local currency⭐️

Every now and then, I like to invest small amounts of money into foreign government bonds denominated in weak currencies. A few examples of these weak currencies include South African Rand, Turkish Lira, Mexican Pesos, Brazilian Reals and Russian Rubles.

Is this ethical? I still don’t know since it may support democratic but also NON democratic countries governments in some cases.

These bonds pay fabulous coupons – but in local currency. The problem is that historically these local currencies tend to lose value against the euro (my investment currency), or at least to fluctuate rather drastically and unpredictably.

This is why in these kinds of investments, timing is absolutely crucial. Otherwise I may find myself with a 9% annual coupon, but a devaluated bond price. This explains why these bonds cover only a tiny part of my portfolio – but they are too much fun, I just can’t resist!

Of course, one can “hedge” the currency risk, but this is not something within the reach of an ordinary investor.

  • European Investment Bank (EIB) and the World Bank are considered “safe” issuers (AAA). No others.
  • Experts used to consider cheap foreign bonds priced below 90 (if 100 was the issue price). These are very risky investments.

This is NOT a trading recommendation.

Effort required: High.

My danger level: Very dangerous🌶🌶🌶🌶🌶+🌶



What is Robo-Advisoring?⭐️⭐️⭐️

What if you had a robot who “actively” takes care of your invested money?

It is possible!

Robo-advising in the US is not a new trend. Popular names in this field include Betterment, Vanguard, Personal Capital, and many more.  In Europe, the big names are MoneyFarm, Nutmeg, ETFMatic, and others. UK and Germany are the biggest markets for robo-advising.

The biggest difference between the “traditional” investment advisor and its robo-counterpart is the minimum required investment. Robo advisors can manage investments as low as 1€, while a human financial planner will normally not consider it worth their time to manage investments lower below €50k.

So what does a robot-advisor do for you, exactly?

Easy! It will pick investments for your portfolio using algorithms based on your risk profile and goals.

Financial advising using robots advice will be provided with a minimum (or zero) human intervention. The financial advice is produced by algorithms and simple math rules.
I a basic algorithm can do it, this is the final prove that anyone can make some safe “do it yourself” investing using a good mix of knowledge and common sense. BTW, let’s go ahead.

For instance, the robo-advisor program will ask you some questions before investing.

With the answers received (this is to set goals) the software will just execute a series of investments best suited to your needs. In alternative it will generate a series of recommendations for you to follow.

europe-robo-advisors

One of my favorite robo-avisors is MoneyFarm (only available for UK and Italian residents).

It is an Italian company regulated also by the FCA. Money Farm reports its past returns average (depending on the risk grade) as sitting between 2% and 7% annually gross. The management costs are approximately 1% of the invested capital.

As you can see, no miracles.

Other robo-advisor options include Scalable Capital (open to Germans, Austrian and UK residents) and ETFMatic (open to all Europeans).

Here is an explainer video from MoneyFarm:

How do robo-advisors perform?

In line with expectations, sometimes worse. DIY investors may perform better than money managers and robots! You can take a look at some specific figures from a recent DB study just below:

robo-advisor-performance

If we consider the statistics from 2010 until today, we can see that most robo-advisors do well, but not quite well enough. None of then beat the markets. I really like automatic advisors, but they could do much better than that, at least for the high-risk profiles. The S&P500 from 2011 to date is up 100%, no automatic advisor did so well.

moneyfarm-performance-2019
MoneyFarm UK yearly performance

Still, the great thing about robo-advisors is that technology is helping ordinary people to realize they can take control of their finances. Gamification process is also important to encourage investors to save more by setting targets.

Pros:

  1. Automatic or semi-automatic portfolios from just 100€
  2. Cheap money management
  3. Robots make investment decisions based purely on statistical facts, without letting emotions get in the way

Cons:

  1. Still rather unknown, options are limited
  2. Performance is not yet surprising

Effort required: Medium

My danger level: Medium/low🌶🌶


Investing in startups or ICOs?⭐️⭐️

This is hot stuff, but it comes with a lot of risk.

Startups either win big or go totally bankrupt – and far more often than not, it’s the second one.

How many times have we heard the story of someone investing in groundbreaking apps and ideas that then become millionaire business? These stories are out there, but you’ve got to remember: For every miracle startup success story, there are tens of thousands of failed projects every year, each one resulting in big losses of capital.

Startups are a high-risk industry – 99% of startups fail or get cannibalized by bigger groups.  I myself co-founded an aviation startup and I feel like we’ve come just an inch away from success. Anyway …it’s not over yet.  I like to think I never lose. Either I win, enjoy the ride, or learn from a mistake. Having a startup was a hell of an accelerated course. Now I know where I went wrong and I possibly make better decisions.

 invest in real projects revenueland
It is fascinating to invest in real projects

Startup investing (also known today as equity financing) is one of the most fascinating assets classes ever, but the risks involved are huge. Another tremendous downside of startup investing is the lack of liquidity.

When I trade stocks on the market, I can get rid of my investment instantly, or almost. If I invest in direct loans (In some cases) I can have access to a rather liquid P2P market to exit almost instantly. This is not the case with startups.

It can take years before I see my money again (if ever). On the other hand, in case of successful “rounds,” as they call it, every euro invested can become a tiny slice of a tremendously big cake.

In this field we will also find ICOs. This happen when a stake of the new company is sold to raise money to run it.

English is the language of most tools. You absolutely must conduct thorough preliminary research on the terms and conditions before investing. It is also important to study the business plans of the projects themselves before investing. As you can see, there is not much passive income here, since each investment (done well) requires plenty of time and the skills to find the right tools and the right projects to focus on.

A more relaxed but very profitable way to invest in business ideas is through debt crowdfunding or business loans, but again, there is no free lunch, it can be dangerous.

There is a lot to know to make some informed startup investing, here is a good “Startup investing” FAQ section from Startupxplore:

How to safely invest in startup

Let’s get to the actionable stuff:

I’ve made a list of the most popular or advanced tools to invest in startup.

It is crucial to know the terms before investing and learn some technical jargon.

WeFunder, USA

Motto:

“Break the monopoly of the rich”

“Now everyone has the right to invest in what they love!”

Wefunder is a giant US-based crowdfunding. They say they want to break the monopoly of the rich, who used to be the only ones with the resources needed to invest in startups. But it’s a brave new world, and things have changed. Now everyone can do it even, even with just a few dollars – but make sure to pay attention to the quality of the business. On Wefunder, you can find a bit of everything. The projects with more critical mass may be the safest, but I’d avoid the word “safe” in this chapter.

Seedrs, UK

Motto:

“Buy into businesses you believe in and share in their success”

Seedrs is my favorite option from the bunch. The minimum investment is £10, and commission on profits is 7.5%. Ordinary investors are the target customer. Some past projects have been funded and have already skyrocketed towards global success. Seedrs is an excellent tool to start in the “angel investing world” because it is within the reach of most people. They also have a secondary market where you can sell your investment to exit the deal if you so choose. Low liquidity is one of the main issues in startup investing. There is currency risk if you invest in euros.

Crowdcube, UK

Motto:

“Inspiring investment”

Investments start at 10£ and conditions are similar to other platforms. It is by far the biggest crowdfunding site in Europe, with 700.000 members. It is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. There is also currency risk if you invest in euros.

OurCrowd, Israel

Motto:

“Invest in the future”

Only very high-profile projects are carried out here. I’ve had the opportunity to be in contact with them and my impression was very good. The downside is that investors have to prove they are “accredited investors” in order to participate. Minimum investment is $10,000. Like I said, only big opportunities.

Angel.co USA

Motto:

“Invest with proven angels”

This is also a wonderful tool, full of resources and brilliant ideas. They have raised capital for companies like Uber and dozens of other less famous startups that have been later acquired by Google and other web giants.

Unlike ordinary crowdfunding, where you usually support a project in exchange for predefined “perks”, these tools allow you to become real shareholders if the project takes off. Angel.co is also a jobs marketplace.

Effort required: High, one-off initial.

My danger level: Very dangerous🌶🌶🌶🌶🌶+🌶


Make money off savings accounts?⭐️

It is not the best time in history to invest in savings accounts because interest rates in Europe are still exceptionally low.

However, if we consider “Europe” in a geographic rather than “European Union” sense, we find some great (and potentially dangerous) deals:

European banks best interest rates
Jaw-dropping, eh?

15%? Why wouldn’t I take advantage of such generous rates?

Don’t get too excited! All that glitters is not gold!

In most cases you have to be resident or, at least, go there in person to open a bank account (e.g. Georgia). The biggest downside is that these savings accounts are in local currency that heavily fluctuates against the euro. Since these are often countries characterized by high inflation, their currencies may lose value against the euro in the long term. The devaluation may heavily affect your investment. Argentina, for example, is paying 40% interest on savings but ARS pesos is losing value at the speed of light.

The situation for those who want to invest in European banks in euros is, of course, very boring. The last good deals in Europe were spotted about 10 years ago.

Here is a moderately recent table of the interest rates on deposit in euros and GBP:

highest interest rates in europe

Honestly, I do not consider this a profitable investment, since inflation is going to reset my profit anyway. Only a limited slice of my money is sleeping away in bank accounts.

I also use some new fin-tech platforms that keep my money invested but also rather available. Of course there are some risks involved, so these cannot be compared to savings account.

Effort required: Very low.

My danger level: Low🌶 (but money will be consumed by inflation anyway)


Buying long term high dividend shares⭐️⭐️⭐️

As an alternative to trading stocks, there exists the more relaxing investment strategy of “buy and hold” stocks that pay generous dividends.

I buy some stocks and I get payed as a shareholder every year a quote between 3% al 9%.

Easier said than done, believe me.

When you buy a stock you become owner of a small share of a company. You are a “shareholder”. Don’t flatter yourself now, being a shareholder it’s not that exciting after all.

Most of the largest companies reward their shareholders with a coupon each year. It’s super-easy to find many accredited lists of the highest yield dividend stocks online. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to build a dividend portfolio.

When I search for high dividend stocks, I pay close attention to the current price, to the stock market conditions, and to some specific numbers.

I don’t buy a series of high-yield stocks at random. It won’t work. The reason is that any stock price can fluctuate widely, so I try to take advantage of this. Instead, I try to assess the stock price before buying. If I can, I should also asses the health of the growth of the company, its debt, and hundreds of crucial numbers.

The most common measure for stock’s price is the price to earnings ratio, known as the P/E. But don’t fool yourself; that number is not enough to assess a price (taken on its own).

Moreover, if I buy an overpriced stock, the risk is that I might be forced to sell it at discount one day.

The price can stagnate below my purchase price for long time, potentially forever. It is true that in the meantime, I should regularly cash in the dividends, but there are no guarantees because yields fluctuate too.

Not all listed companies pay dividends. In fact, many newer or fast-growing companies prefer to reinvest their cash rather than pay dividends. Larger, steadier companies are more likely to pay dividends.

Buffet-list-stocks
This is a part of the list of what is owned by the biggest W. Buffet investment company. Free to copy, but…

If you don’t know where to start, go ask Bill Gates!

Why? Because he’s Warren Buffet’s friend – it is said he have had important insider’s tips (legally)! Over the last 50 years, Buffet piled up a huge number of high dividend stocks including Coca-Cola, UPS, Walmart, and Caterpillar. Buffet has regularly beaten the S&P500 index for decades (though a little less regularly in the last years).

Since many of the “best high yielding stocks lists” that are freely available on the web may be biased, I prefer to generate my own winners lists. I like to know who to blame when I am wrong, in order to learn from my mistakes and grow.

Let’s get to the actionable:

To search for the highest dividend stocks, I normally use Marketscreener, one of the most powerful tools for investors and traders.

Setting up filters, I can generate my own lists of best dividend stocks anytime I choose. This is just an example of a user-generated list:

best-high-yield-stocks-2019
Marketscreener is one of the tools I use to search for deals also long term

This list is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities.

My danger level: Dangerous🌶🌶🌶


How I build a high yield ETFs portfolio⭐️⭐️⭐️

Buying single stocks over time to build a dividend portfolio is not for everyone. Being wrong, even in a small percentage of our choices, can affect profitability.

Here is where exchange-traded fund (ETF) investing comes in.

ETFs can be either simple or complex tools, and many other things that we don’t need to get into today.

ETF are composed of high yield stocks can lower the volatility of one’s portfolio even if they are not immune to big market shakes.

Let’s get to the actionable:

Below are 3 rather liquid ETFs with negligible management costs:

  • WisdomTree Eurozone Quality Div. Growth
  • S&P Euro High Yield Dividend Aristocrats
  • Euro Stoxx Select Dividend 30

Don’t copy this list blindly because there are things to consider when investing even with these medium/high risk tools.

Of course, there are thousands of ETFs and some can be better (though hardly cheaper) than the above mentioned, but this is a just meant as starting point for your research.

Make your informed decision using my tools like:

pick my next ETFs
I mainly use Marketscreener to pick my next ETFs

This is NOT a trading recommendation and I am not connected to these financial instruments.

Effort required: Medium/high

Danger level: Medium🌶🌶


It took me a century to write this post and test the products mentioned. Before continuing now I invite you to pass my commitment and my research: just share the post! It’ll cost you nothing, and for me it’s a reason for satisfaction! Thank you!


Investing in individual bonds⭐️

This is a very broad subject. It is also a field where some specific knowledge is required in order to lower the associated risks and make steady profits. If I really want to dare and give trust to a single company bond I’d prefer a large company with a good track record. It can be wise to ask the fiscal consultant about taxation, especially on foreign bonds. Don’t forget that choosing the right company is not an easy task if you are a newbi.

If I were a beginner, I’d rather stick to bonds ETFs of mutual funds while reading some books about bond investing.

Bond funds (and somehow ETFs) are mutual funds that invest in bonds.

Let’s get to the actionable:

I use one tool that is low-cost, reliable, hedged in Euros and anything but exciting. The strategy is very simple, like holding it for long time and benefit from the yield.

The name is:

Vanguard Global Bond Index Fund Investor Hedged – EUR 

vanguard best bond fund credit asset
The overall credit quality of the bonds insite this tool (measured by the “famous” credit scoring agencies) is rather high

This is not a recommendation to buy anything.

Effort required: Medium

Danger level: High🌶🌶🌶🌶


Passive income trading stocks [at home]⭐️⭐️

I’ll say this straight off the bat – bad idea.

Read carefully especially if you are new to investing in stocks.

If I don’t know anything about stocks and markets, I’ll end up listening to the “guru” on duty who sells the magic algorithm.

If all goes well, I’ll end up paying for something that I can’t use, so be careful.

If I know nothing about trading stocks but I feel I can do it by myself, I can be also wrong.

Reading a financial newspapers does not help with investing decisions, even if it looks like it does.

Read the title again. “passive income trading stocks”. There is something wrong, right?

It’s like I’d say “passive income by working at night”. What is passive in working at night? Nothing.

Trading is, as the word itself says, an activity, so there is no passive income here.

Overconfidence is the cardinal sin of online investing Click To Tweet

Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with having a high self-esteem – in fact we need a lot of it to be successful. The problem is that there are things you need to know before starting. When markets are climbing and we get in in that very moment, we might get the impression that, all in all, it’s pretty easy to be right! But the only certainty in the market (and in life) is that conditions change, always. And if you’re not well informed, and above all, ready, it’s easy to end up caught on the losing end of the stick.

As well, beware that simply studying the techniques alone is not enough. It is just the first step. After having easily assimilated the basics, you’ll need real experience in the field.

Investopedia, Yahoo Finance, and hundreds of other sites offer effective free portfolio simulators. Enjoy investing with virtual (pretend) money. It will help you to get started, but in all likelihood, you won’t feel satisfied for long.

Why?

Have you ever played poker without betting money or with small sums? There is no excitement.

Emotions play a major role in the trading “game”, and how you react will only come out if you lose real money. We can feel the pain of losing €1000 much more than we enjoy an equivalent gain.

Stock simulator
Simulators are ok, but never forget that investing in stocks have nothing to do with playing and gambling. If you feel you have an attraction for gambling, just stay away from this

Dangers of stock simulations:

  1. Investor psychology is not considered
  2. Risk tolerance does not come out during simulations
  3. Tendency to taking high risk since there is no real money
  4. False sense of complacency, real life is different even if you are winning on simulators

More things to consider:

  • You need an initial capital, there is no way around it
  • It is dangerous to use the leverage, best to just forget about it
  • Beware of Forex, because it is an unregulated market

Let’s be honest now.

How could you think of making profit by forecasting the exchange rate between Canadian dollars and Thai Bahts if you didn't even know they existed until yesterday.? Click To Tweet

It’s even worse to think of trading cryptos without experience.There is no way to profit on Forex without a selling strategy to trade on Forex and you don’t have that because even if you ride some trend you don’t know when to exit. Will you be able to leave at the right time, or the overconfident guy who will get caught up?

If you really feel you’ve heard the “divine call” to do trading, at least take some time to understand it first.

I started TOL (trading on line) with:

  • Some years reading financial newspaper
  • An ordinary trading account
  • Some guidance from a more experienced friend
  • A couple of evergreen books
  • A few thousand euros I was ready to waste in order to learn

I don’t regret anything but I also wander if I could have been doing something as much as exciting and profitable instead.

Why?

Because doing TOL you don’t build anything and your freedom ends up with your last trade (N. Taleb).

Trading is amazing but don't think it is easy to live by trading because it will inevitably destabilize your mind on the long term. Click To Tweet

Effort required: Very high

My danger level: High🌶🌶🌶🌶🌶


Worst investment: gold and silver?⭐️

Gold is a chemical element, a metal, with the symbol Au and atomic number 79, it is yellow, soft and very dense. For some reasons humans love it, so it is rather expensive on average to buy.

There are multiple ways to invest in gold (and precious metals in general).

  • Buy fiscal gold in billions or coins and hold it in a safe (the less convenient option)
  • Buy a Gold based ETF in EUR or USD
  • Buy gold mining stocks

Since gold is considered a safe asset but it is not, since extremely volatile. Investors in the past usually moved to gold investment during crisis, but there is no guarantee this can happen again in the future.

Gold has not always maintained its value over the long term. Here is the 100 years chart in USD:

gold price revenue land
To forecast the price of gold is not an easy task

Gold could be an part of a diversified investment portfolio, but since its profitability is normally low, I’d only consider it marginally important.

Silver usually follow the same pattern of gold, other precious metals can be more interesting and more challenging.

From time to time I “follow” and invest small amounts in precious metals and commodities, but I’d not recommend it as a great way to invest a part from a diversification point of view.

Effort required: Medium

My danger level: High🌶🌶🌶🌶


P2P Lending: a succesfull alternative? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is perhaps the most “passive” of the automatic income streams that I have implemented so far.

Investing in peer-to-peer lending means lending money to private citizens and companies through authorized platforms.

How to do P2P in 2019 it is just matter of:

  1. Choosing the right tools (yes, plural – more than one is much safer)
  2. Setting up the automation
  3. Reinvesting every dime automatically
  4. Seeing the money piling up

I had a “wow moment” when I discovered P2P Lending, because I realized that was what I was looking for in order to balance my investment portfolio.

In 2019, peer-to-peer lending has definitely taken the role of mainstream asset class.

P2Plending platforms in Europe usa
There are more P2P lending platforms in Europe but size is much bigger in the U.S.

Here are the reasons I like P2P Lending:

  • Not much supervision is needed

  • Geographic diversification

  • Very high returns (on average)

  • Rather independent from markets dynamics

What I don’t like about P2P Lending:

  • Limited historical data to rely on

  • Credit risk to be assessed properly

  • Liquidity and potential cash drag on smaller tools

P2P Lending as we know it is approximately 10 years old, so there is not much background to study. Yields are very high compared with what is available on the market nowadays. Some platforms may be slow to invest the money since there might be moments where the offer and the demand don’t meet immediately. On the other hand, I have to remember this is not as liquid as the stock market, so I don’t have to be impatient.

There is credit risk, that’s obvious with such high interests, but it is also true that some platforms are so transparent that data is sitting there, available for those willing to read it. I did my research and elaborated my list of best P2P tools and also my table of all P2Ps I know so far.

Time is a crucial factor in P2P investing since I can leverage on compound interest power.

I was very skeptical about P2P Lending at the beginning.

Now I have become passionate about the subject and I consider social lending to be one of the most successful applications of new technologies to finance (better than cryptos, so far).

Still not clear what social lending does?

The principle is to bring together supply and demand credit. It works a bit like Airbnb, but with Airbnb you bring together people who seek and people who offer a room, while with P2P lending you bring together people who offer and people who ask for credit. Uber is not any different, someone offers a ride, somebody else wants a ride.

What can go wrong in peer to peer lending investing?

  • too many loans go default ( I can try to limit this))
  • platforms go default (I can avoid small and less transparent platforms)
  • change of regulations (I can keep updated and move early)
  • global economic slowdown that affects employment (I can try to avoid most affected counties)

When investing in P2P loans it is safer to distribute the risk on more countries and also on more types of loans. Safer doesn’t mean zero risk.

Yields range from 5% to 70% or more. I consider acceptable loans that yield from around 6% to 20% and I have an average return above 12% of which I am satisfied (how could I not be?). I haven’t lost a euro so far but I know this isn’t, and will never be, a guarantee for the future.

I don’t consider convenient to be exposed on high-risk loans. They may be problematic. P2P loans should not cover a big portions of investors total assets because of the risk involved.

Let’s get to the actionable:

Here is a useful comparison table of the most popular and effective P2P websites in Europe open to international investors:

P2P Lending chart

Some P2P Lending websites provide Cashback offers to new users in order to win resistances to this new way of investing. Bonuses should never be the main reason to invest.

Here is a list of P2P bonuses. I have used in the past for myself to sign up to, they normally work fine for everyone.

Here is a list of my best P2P lending tools today.

To focus on personal loans I mainly use this and this.

I also diversificate on business loans in peer to peer.

Effort required: Medium/Low, one-off initial.

My danger level: Medium/high🌶🌶


DCA investing (dollar/unit cost averaging)⭐️

I used to do it in the past, I don’t do this anymore.

Using the Unit Cost Averaging strategy, as an investor I decide the amount of money invested each month, and the time horizon.

Doing so, I will buy a defined security (normally ETFs or mutual funds) for a precise amount of money regardless of the price for a few years without interruptions. This will lower my risk of getting in with the wrong timing.

I am not a fan of this strategy, even though it is not bad for non-experts and individual with low risk tolerance. But overall, there is a lot of debate on the real effectiveness of DCA on the long term.

Value Averaging strategies seems to be much more effective but it requires some work and research.

This Investopedia table can help us to jump to conclusions:

DCA vs value averaging

Effort required: Low, one-off initial.

My danger level: Medium🌶


Bonus #1: The unwanted advice⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Invest in yourself. I mean it.

This is a boring piece of advice, typically given by older people and frequently ignored.

But let’s change the point of view with an example:

  • 5000€ invested in whatever may become 6000€ within a few months, and you’ll feel like having reached a good result, right? Well, it is.
  • 5000€ invested over the long term may become 25000€, wow, you’ll definitely go for it.

But look at it from another angle.

What if you’d invested that same money into a course or a school that gives you the chance to learn something powerful or that empowers you to start a business?

Let’s put aside the “cultural improvement thing”, don’t mix up. Can you imagine how much profit you’d make over time with the same investment?

Whenever you start investing with little money, think twice before cutting costs on your education. It is your strongest asset. Click To Tweet

Today, I am definitely able to have returns above 10% yearly, without ever cutting down on my on my personal growth – and in fact, also because I invested in myself.

The best return you can make is absolutely investing in yourself. Use it to learn a bunch of skills that will make you more valuable, more powerful.

Let’s get to the actionable:

  1. Find something you like
  2. Learn everything about it
  3. Find a problem to solve in that field
  4. Build a business that solves that issue
  5. Make profit and live happy

My danger level: Investing in yourself brings no risks


How to know if you have enough money to invest?

If you’ve have enough cash in the bank to cover you for at least 6 months, or even safer, 1 year, maybe the right time to invest has come. The extra money can go somewhere else to be invested and grow over time.

Set goals and timings and stick to one strategy enough time to find out if it works or not.


There’s no such a thing like a no-risk investing

Diversification can help when investing to lower risk but it cannot t be reset to zero.

The problem is also doing nothing.

Why?

Because money left sitting on a savings account will likely lose value over time even if I don’t realize it. After some years the same amount of money will be able to be “converted” in less real stuff. That process is irreversible and it is called inflation.

So I can choose ONLY between two options:

  1. Doing nothing and be sure to lose money slowly
  2. Do something and try to make money work for me

Thinking like this helped me to start collecting information to do something with my money.

In order to avoid scams it is possible to check in the FCA financial services register when in doubt.

Investing can be dangerous but this should not scare us.
Why?
Because allocating our capital in different assets can heavily reduce the global risks.
investing vs gambling
Investing has nothing to do with gambling

Do you think you don’t have enough money to be worried about diversification?

Diversification should be a worry also for small and medium individuals. Here are some examples.
  • Is your money sitting in one single saving account?

That is not extremely safe, I’d rather use more banks, even abroad.

  • Do you work for a company that is giving you shares?
Think about diversification, especially on other companies in different sectors.
  • Are you piling up cash in your savings?
That’s not very save either, I’d start considering mutual funds, fixed interest securities, peer to peer lending or real estate.

CONCLUSIONS & DANGEROUS INVESTMENTS⚠️

I had to build up capital and some knowledge to start investing D-I-Y wisely.

Now I know that it is absolutely worth spending a few afternoons studying and searching for information that can help me build passive income streams.

To successfully invest online, what is needed the most is the right mindset.

A wrong mindset is:

  • It’s too difficult for me
  • I hate numbers
  • I have only a small capital and I don’t want to wait, so its “make or break”
  • The only way to make more money is to work harder

Saving is crucial!

Every time you spend a euro you lose forever the chance to multiply it Click To Tweet

I save at least 20% of my income. I reinvest everything immediately because my savings accounts give me no interests right now and inflation is eating away my money.

I am proud of my results, and for this reason I am also happy to share them. I hope I might inspire some brave readers like you that (if you are still reading such a long post) are almost ready to invest without too much external advice.

The smaller the capital, the greater the risks involved in making it grow quickly. Click To Tweet

If I have a small capital, maybe P2P lending is a good way to start online DIY investing, but I’d never allocate 100% of my savings on risky assets like that. Crowdfunding real estate can be an alternative, as can traditional assets. I say this because I believe P2P investing is easier to understand compared to the most complex tools mentioned above.

  • I stay away from ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings). Those are bets, not investments, and the chances of success are very low. You are also not likely able to assess risk of ICOs.
  • I stay away from everything whose price is rising exponentially. In general, I stay away from hype.
  • I stay away from the “penny stocks”– the ones that Di Caprio sells to the gullible investors on the phone in “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Do I have to explain why to stay away? If you don’t know what I mean, go watch that movie. It is fun.
  • I stay away from art, wine and diamonds! You need to be deeply knowledgeable in those businesses to evaluate the products. Diamonds are the worst.
  • I stay away from “Binary Options”. It’s like playing at the casino. I wouldn’t use my money to play, even if a lot of people do.
  • I stay away from investments made only because I have some tax relief. An example is some hybrid life insurances. It very seldom makes sense to do that.
  • I stay away from network marketing and pyramid schemes, and people who tell me about their “great new idea.” Multilevel marketing is one who is inside and earns to affiliate, always, without exception. Even the relatives are not excluded – Indeed, those are the worst!
  • I stay away from everything that I do not understand (even after studying it).

When’s the right time?

Timing and knowledge are essential to be successful in any industry, so I’d invest only after studying and clearly understanding what I am doing and what can happen in the worst-case scenario.

A complex financial product is not necessarily the best.

Okay, we made it!

This may seem like a lot of information, I know. At first it is hard. But it takes very little time to access knowledge that can generate money from money. Right after my first try, I saw my knowledge accumulate in a snowball effect and further knowledge was easy to achieve.

Simply put, investing online is assessing and taking risks in order to make a profit.

I spend part of my time understanding how some specific tools work, and I can say I am very happy with the results so far.


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Which one of the mentioned strategies interests you the most?

Did I miss anything?

Your comments are welcome!

The information on this site is provided for discussion purposes only, and should not be misconstrued as investment advice. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy or sell securities.

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One thought on “How to invest money: [DIY] essential guide

  1. Bjorn says:

    you are insane revenueland. This is the most complete guide to investing I had ever read. I don’t have much money yet but Im growing, and learning. I will test the loans and the startups. greetings from Sweden

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