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15+ Gold star assets that make you rich

Check out 15+ assets that make you rich to build a balanced and prosperous portfolio and cash out on great investments.

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January 25, 2024

10 min. read

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Key takeaways:
  • A balanced portfolio promotes growth despite stock market performance. 
  • Equity investments allow you to purchase part ownership of a company, while debt investments involve lending money in exchange for interest returns. 
  • The best assets produce income and appreciate over time, like real estate and small businesses.

In this article

      Get-rich-quick schemes are a dime a dozen, and you need a lot more than pocket change if you’re dreaming of early retirement on a yacht. 

      We can’t make you a millionaire overnight, but we do know a thing or two about smart investment decisions. Consider these 17 assets that can make you rich (with some patience and maintenance) to choose the best investments for your portfolio.

      1. Investment properties

      Real estate is a double-duty investment since it can generate profit (rent), and it’s typically an appreciating asset. 

      Most properties naturally appreciate over time, but you can fast-track your returns and reinvest in the property to improve its curb appeal, appearance, or function. Real estate investors can also leverage equity in their existing properties to purchase additional real estate to rent out or flip.

      Pros: Cons:
      • Income-generating and appreciating asset • Can be a time commitment
      • Tax benefits • Risky and nonliquid
      Takeaways:
      • Total real estate investment returns average 6.87% annually based on the last 10 years performance as of November 2023.
      • Individual real estate investments require more money upfront, but the combination of passive income and equity is a great wealth-building opportunity.

      2. Real estate trusts 

      Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) manage real estate assets and allow individuals to invest in their properties in exchange for a share of the returns. 

      REITs typically manage large commercial properties like malls or resorts, so investors can choose high-performing real estate assets with less risk and upfront cost than private real estate investments. 

      Chart compares assets types considering productivity and appreciation.

      Before you invest, know that REITs are either publicly traded like stocks or nonexchange traded

      Nontraded REITs are registered with the Security Exchange Commission (SEC), but they’re not publicly traded and there’s no independent market value source. So the asset’s value isn’t always transparent and there are opportunities for conflicts of interest to develop.

      Pros: Cons:
      • REITs have SEC registration • Nontraded REITs aren’t as transparent as traded assets and carry higher risks
      • Lower-cost and lower-risk entry into high-value commercial real estate • Income is paid out in dividends and taxed as regular income
      Takeaways:
      • Traded REITs allow individual investors to get into commercial real estate without owning property outright.
      • REITs historically have average annual returns of 11.2% that outperform individual real estate investments, but performance varies significantly among trusts.

      3. Retirement investments

      Retirement is expensive, and target savings for a comfortable retirement are only increasing. The sooner you take saving for retirement seriously, the more wealth you’ll generate with compound interest. 

      Each year, you contribute more money to retirement and earn interest on your total investment. That interest compounds the next year as a part of your investment total, and this continues year after year, growing your total interest earnings. 

      If a 25-year-old invested $5,000, never contributed again, but earned a 6.5% return each year, that $5,000 would grow to over $62,000 in 40 years

      If a 40-year-old did the same but held the investment for just 25 years, they’d only have $24,139 by retirement at 65. 

      That’s 61% less savings because the investor started late. 

      And that’s not even the best part of retirement investments. Accounts like 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts (IRA) are tax-deferred, so you enjoy immediate tax deductions on your contributions and pay income taxes when you withdraw the money. This is great for investors who expect a lower retirement income than their current salary.

      Pros: Cons:
      • Contributions can reduce your current taxable income • Long-term investments that won’t pay out until retirement
      • Compound interest growth • Fees and penalties may apply to early withdrawals
      Takeaways:
      • Long-term investments with huge potential for growth over decades of savings.
      • An essential investment that won’t make you rich now, but you’ll be glad you invested later.

      4. Bonds

      Bonds are a lower-risk debt investment to balance your portfolio. When you purchase a bond, you lend money to a borrower – a business, individual, or government. They repay the loan over time with interest. 

      Investors can choose who they lend to and the bond term length. Treasury bonds lend money to the U.S. government and are the most common and secure bond. You can purchase bonds from corporations, municipalities, and foreign governments that may offer better interest rates in exchange for greater risk. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Lower-risk investment to balance your portfolio • Lower returns than riskier investments like stocks
      • Guaranteed repayment with treasury bonds • Fixed rates aren’t ideal for inflation periods
      Takeaways:
      • Treasury bonds offer an average 3% interest rate while AAA corporate bonds average 5.61%.
      • Bonds provide security for your portfolio and flexibility to choose an investment appropriate for your risk tolerance.

      5. Stocks

      While bonds steady your portfolio, smart stock investments are your opportunity to build wealth quickly. Stocks are riskier investments, but you can mitigate the risk in a number of ways.  

      Stocks translate to equity, so you’re buying a share of ownership in a business. High-performing business stocks increase in price, driving the value of your shares and paying out dividends for passive income. 

      Long-term investments in blue-chip stocks have a proven track record of growth, while cyclical stocks are heavily impacted by economic conditions and may be more volatile. 

      Investors purchase stocks individually or as part of a fund (we recommend funds if you’re just getting started), and there are several investment strategies to choose from. The right fit for you depends on your investment goals. A qualified CFP or other financial advisor can help you create a stock strategy. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Various investment opportunities available based on your goals and risk tolerance • Stock values can be volatile
      • Potential for larger returns than more secure investments like bonds • Higher risk of loss than other investments, depending on your stock strategy
      • Relatively liquid compared to other assets • Subject to capital gains taxes if you buy and sell frequently in a taxable account
      Takeaways:
      • tock investments are an integral part of your wealth-building strategy and can contribute to passive income.
      • Equity investments are riskier than other options, and beginners should consult a financial planner for guidance.

      6. Farmland

      Similar to investment real estate, farmland property values appreciate over time, and the land produces profitable products and services. Farmland’s annual returns average 10.2% between 1970 and 2019, including profit and valuation. 

      Investors like to use farmland to hedge against inflation and market volatility since the asset isn’t as impacted by economic conditions. We have to eat, after all. 

      Comparison of typical returns for different types of real estate assets, including physical property, REITs, and Farmland.

      Farmland is purchased individually, through REITs, or via crowdfunding firms. Individual ownership can be complicated, so many investors invest through REITs. 

      Crowdfunding is also popular with perks like the ability to choose specific investment properties. However, they’re not as accessible. Crowdfunding platforms may restrict services to accredited investors, and fees get costly. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Hedges the impacts of inflation and market volatility • A niche asset that can be complicated to get into
      • Produces value with consistent property appreciation and crop sales • Larger upfront investment and limited access to lower-income investors
      Takeaways:
      • Farmland is a consistent asset with average annual returns of 10.7%.
      • Farms produce necessary goods that outperform U.S. equities during recessions and economic turmoil.

      7. Small business investments

      Business investments can net great returns if you back the right one, and you have options on how involved you are. Some investors want to engage with the business through equity investments and strategy, while others lend money to the businesses in exchange for returns. 

      Equity investments trade money for some degree of ownership. This is typically much more involved than debt investments, and owners can have more or less involvement in operations.

      Owners have a great potential for high returns and regular dividend payments. But investments are inverse relationships, so owners are also at high risk of losing the entire investment and are responsible for the business itself. 

      Debt investments are like bonds. Investors give business owners a loan and receive interest payments in exchange. These investors aren’t responsible for the business’s success or operations, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on the business’s performance and investor’s interests. 

      But debt’s more secure since investors are the first to recoup costs if the business goes belly-up, and the investment has an agreed-upon return rate. 

      The best small businesses are always needed, so they’ll generate cash even if most people are feeling the pinch of inflation. They don’t have to be brick-and-mortar businesses, either. Consider options like laundromats and moving companies, or dropshipping and catering. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Potential for huge returns, but with a hefty risk • High time commitment and risk tolerance
      • Opportunities to be more or less involved in exchange for more or less reward and risk
      Takeaways:
      • Offers a choice of equity investment (higher risk, higher return potential) or debt investment (moderate risk, steadier returns).
      • Returns for angel equity investments average around 22%, but studies vary, and many ventures fail.

      8. Money market funds

      Money market funds are lower-risk market investments that allocate your funds to various short-term debt securities. These may include government, municipal, and corporate securities. 

      These are a nice middle ground between low-risk, low-reward savings accounts and moderate-risk, moderate-return stock investments. You’ll earn a regular income that you can access as you like without too much worry. But it’s part of a strategy and won’t fill your piggy bank.

      Pros: Cons:
      • Consistent income with low risk • Low yields compared to other market investments
      • Accessible passive income
      Takeaways:
      Return rates vary, averaging between 0.01% and 3.45% APY.
      • These are best as an alternative to savings accounts.

      9. High-yield savings

      High-yield savings accounts (HYSA) boast interest rates as high as 5.25%+, a huge one-up on traditional savings accounts that average just 0.46% APY nationally. That’s a difference of $2,683 over five years on a $10,000 investment. 

      Online banks typically offer HYSAs to compete with traditional banks, and they’ve taken off as an ideal account for emergency funds. They’re easy to access, and you can withdraw cash as you need it, though some accounts have minimum balance requirements.

      Pros: Cons:
      • Accessible funds for emergencies and short-term goals • Low returns compared to other investments
      • Higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts • Some accounts have minimum balances and maintenance fees
      Takeaways:
      • Funds are easy to access and withdraw from for emergencies or short-term savings goals.
      • Interest rates vary, reaching as much as 5.25%, while traditional savings accounts average 0.46%.

       10. Index funds

      Index funds own various securities by following a specific market index’s (group of stocks like the S&P 500) performance. It’s a passive investment strategy, so no one’s actively managing the account. This means fewer fees and lower entry requirements. 

      Index funds are a long-term game. The intent is to ride out any market volatility and cash out after several years so the overall performance outpaces managed mutual funds. They’re often recommended for retirement savings and can help stabilize your portfolio. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Fewer fees and costs than actively-managed mutual funds • Inflexible without active management
      • Consistent performance with strong returns when held long-term • Worse performance than mutual funds when held short-term
      Takeaways:
      • Good choice for passive investing and long-term goals like retirement.
      • These funds aren’t actively managed, so they’re not very flexible or optimized for the highest returns.

      11. Entrepreneurship

      Investors with the know-how and inspiration can jump right into their own (hopefully) billion-dollar business instead of investing in someone else’s idea. Entrepreneurship is infamously risky, but there’s a lot of profit potential to balance it out. 

      Owning a business means complete control over the assets, including where you invest your time and money and how much you charge for your products or services. Theoretically, you have control over your profits, plus your equity grows with your business. 

      Entrepreneurship isn’t an immediate payday, though. Even low-cost ventures like e-books may not cost you much to create, but researching your digital competition, identifying audiences, and growing a following take a lot of time. It’s not a fit for everyone, but it can be a solid income-producing asset for others. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Ownership over assets and profit • High upfront time and money cost for many ventures
      • Control to manage product, prices, and more • Risky investment with no guaranteed payoff
      • Unlimited potential for income and equity growth
      Takeaways:
      • Entrepreneurship is entirely managed by you, the investor, with great potential for high returns.
      • Ownership is time- and cost-intensive and best suited for those with experience and resources to balance the risk.

      12. Your own home

      A residential home is one of the largest purchases most Americans make, and it’s a great investment historically. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the average single-family homeowner gains $225,000 in equity over 10 years

      Equity is earned as the property value increases and homeowners pay off more of their mortgage. The great thing about home equity is that a family doesn’t have to sell to tap into it. They can leverage equity with home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), cash-out refinancing and more. 

      These loans essentially convert your equity to cash, and you repay the loan with interest. This can help homeowners out in a pinch to cover surprise expenses, or it can consolidate debt or fund a home remodeling project. In fact, interest on equity loans used on home improvement is tax-deductible, and the funds may improve your property value. 

      However, there’s risk involved with overleveraging your home’s equity. Borrowing more than you can repay will negatively impact your overall finances. Long-term failure to pay or decreased property value can also lead to foreclosure or bankruptcy. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Historically consistent and significant value growth • Expensive upfront and requires regular maintenance
      • Home equity can be used to fund other financial goals • Nonliquid asset that’s difficult to convert to cash
      • Overleveraging equity can be risky
      Takeaways:
      • Homeownership is the largest wealth-builder in the U.S. as single-family homeowners gain $225,000 in equity over 10 years.
      • Reinvestment in property maintenance and improvements is essential to maintain and increase property value, boosting equity.

      12. Art and collectibles

      Your grandparents’ stamp collection may not have paid for your college, but that doesn’t mean all collectibles are a lost cause. Art, coins, trading cards, and more can maintain value or appreciate over time. 

      The problem is that art, and thereby its value, is subjective. Some collectibles speak to a certain moment in time or social interest, and their value is based on this power and may fluctuate with time and sentiments. For example, a famous musician’s first print record may spike in value after death.

      Illustrations represent some of the most valuable collectibles, including coins, stamps, trading cards, sports merch, and antiques.

      Others are entirely unique pieces, and they can hold a certain emotional influence that makes them meaningful and important. These have an intrinsic value that can be deeply personal. 

      Finally, professional appraisers can establish a commercial value. This is the price tag that an artist or gallery determines, and it’s the most important value to investors. 

      Appraised art can counterbalance poor stock performance because it tends to appreciate over time and isn’t influenced by market performances. However, it’s not an income stream you can just tap into. It’s pretty illiquid, so don’t count on it in an emergency.

      Investors can find valuable art and collectibles in various places. Trade shows and galleries are ideal for appraised pieces, but you’ll pay more upfront. If you know what you’re looking for, you can also try community groups, estate sales, and auctions. The pickings are thinner, but you have a much better chance of finding a great deal. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Hedge against market volatility • Subjective value makes it difficult to appraise and invest accurately
      • Long-term appreciating asset • Illiquid asset
      Takeaways:
      • Art investments are fun, counteract inflation, and can skyrocket in value.
      • Value is unpredictable with a lot of risk, and you have to physically maintain the asset.

      13. Precious metals

      Precious metals, like gold, are similar to art – their value doesn’t align with the stock market, and you’ll see the most growth potential holding on to the asset long term. 

      Humans have treasured precious metals for centuries, and they’re just as useful as they are beautiful. Its inherent value, combined with its applications in tech, medicine, and more, sustains its popularity. 

      Each metal has its own market influenced by different factors:

      • Gold values fluctuate based on collector interest who may buy more gold to counteract inflation and high interest rates. 
      • Silver markets are more volatile and influenced by both collector interest and industrial supply and demand. 
      • Platinum is far rarer than the other two, so industrial use, as well as geopolitical and economic conditions for platinum-mining countries, impact its value.

      Investors can buy metals outright as bullions or certificates verifying ownership without physically holding the assets. If handling several ounces of gold and silver isn’t for you, consider commodity ETFs or mining stocks.

      Pros: Cons:
      • Physical assets you hold onto and insure • Value can drop quickly because of several factors
      • Hedge against inflation and market volatility • Doesn’t produce recurring income
      Takeaways:
      • Precious metal values are volatile, but they generally outperform stocks during economic and political uncertainty.
      • Each metal has its own market, and performance since 2021 varies significantly: gold +7.3%, silver +0.8%, and platinum -6.7%.

      14. Private loans

      We’ve covered several ways that debt investments can make you money, and if you have the cash reserves available, private lending can be a good addition to your portfolio. 

      The concept is simple: An investor lends a sum of money to an individual or business, and they repay the balance with interest. Borrowers may secure their loan with collateral like real estate, but the investor can agree to an unsecured loan. 

      The investors earn profit via interest around 5-7%, but it depends on their set rate. Friend and family discounts are common, and reasonable rates may vary depending on the loan’s purpose.

      Private lending is popular in real estate investments, and it’s a good way around strict lending guidelines for borrowers. Terms are usually under a year, but longer loans aren’t uncommon. 

      There are a lot of potential benefits for both lender and borrower, but it’s not without risk. Private loans aren’t thoroughly regulated and can be difficult to advertise or find. Lenders tend to charge higher interest rates to balance the risk, but the high cost combined with short-term loans can make repayment difficult for unprepared borrowers. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Flexible interest rates with returns as high as 5-7% • Risky investment with little regulation
      • Short-term investment with turnaround typically less than a year • Requires a large amount of cash to lend
      • Difficult to find unassociated borrowers, and lending to friends and family can be messy
      Takeaways:
      • Private lending offers quick returns as high as 10-15% if the borrower repays the debt.
      • This is another way to get into real estate investing by financially supporting independent remodelers and investors.

       15. Domain names

      After decades of service, some of the best domain names on the web are taken – but they’re not always active. Domaining or domain investing is when people buy low-cost domain names with the intent to sell at a higher price or otherwise make money off of the purchase.

      There are a few ways this can produce some extra cash:

      1. Purchase a domain name that’s brandable – it may tie to a product, like “carkarma,” then you can place it for auction and try to attract relevant businesses. 
      2. Sell ads on your site – there are several services that can find and manage advertisers for you, but you’ll have to maintain your site to attract visitors and ad revenue. 
      3. Lease the domain – this isn’t very common anymore, but you can rent valuable domains to interested businesses in exchange for a fee.

      This alone won’t make you rich, but it can definitely produce some income you can reinvest in other domains or more lucrative investments without cutting into your regular paycheck. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Multiple ways to profit off of domain names • Moderate income production won’t make you rich on its own
      • Relatively easy and low cost to begin • It takes experience to learn to identify valuable domain names
      Takeaways:
      • Domain flipping is relatively easy to get into and produces moderate income, depending on your experience and time investment.
      • You can choose how involved you are in managing your domains depending on how you choose to monetize them.

      16. Intellectual property

      Ever dream of starting a band and touring with a debut album, or have a great product idea you just know will take off? Licensing your intellectual property (IP) can be extremely lucrative, whether it’s an album, novel, product, or service. 

      IP can produce cash flow from sales and equity. A patented product with a solid business plan may also attract interest from venture capitalists. These investments can help you accelerate your business growth without threatening your IP ownership. 

      Of course, investing in your own business always comes with some risk. 

      The time and money it takes to evaluate a market, research a product, and make a prototype is significant, but it also varies by the product or service. Writing a self-published ebook might be easier than launching a physical retail product, but both products need cash and marketing to realize returns high enough to make you rich. 

      No doubt innovative, high-demand ideas can be extremely lucrative. Just make sure you have the resources to support your business through the start-up phases and that it’s something you truly believe in and are excited about. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Full ownership and large returns if the product’s successful • Risky investment that relies on your resources and dedication
      • Profit earned from sales and equity • Time consuming with no guaranteed pay out
      Takeaways:
      • You have full creative control of your IP and can earn significant returns with a successful product.
      • Launching your own product or service is a risky, long-term investment that requires a lot of your time and attention before you ever make a profit.

      17. Your personal brand and products

      Investing in yourself is always a great choice, but you don’t have to train for a marathon to do it. It may surprise you how much your brand as an investor, professional, and community member can impact your wealth. 

      Most people’s jobs are the starting point of their investment. They earn a paycheck and place that in a 401(k) account to grow. Evaluate your career, and how you can position yourself as a valuable asset to your current and future employers. This is how you’ll get those big bonuses to continue funding your private investments. 

      Beyond your reputation, this can translate to actual products and services to sell. If you’re a cybersecurity professional by day, could you offer employee anti-phishing training to companies? What about creating an ebook to help e-commerce sellers create a secure website and get off Etsy?

      These endeavors feed each other to further build your personal brand’s reputation. This can lead to speaking engagements, profitable websites, or an independent business. 

      Pros: Cons:
      • Strengthens your career and prospect • No guaranteed payoff – you have to identify your income opportunities
      • Can generate income or become its own appreciating asset • Time-consuming
      Takeaways:
      • Begin by building your personal and professional reputation to expand your audience and marketable skills and products.
      • Identify and invest in opportunities to make yourself and your work more profitable.

      The Playbook take

      A balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds can definitely help build your wealth. But know where to look, and you can find golden investments to balance market volatility and continue driving growth against record-high inflation and interest rates. From farmland to small business equity, you have more than 15 assets that will make you rich to consider. 

      Are taxes taking all of your hard-earned cash? Learn to maximize your income and reduce your tax liability.

      Click to download assets that make you rich inforgaphic.
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      About the author

      Phil Wettersten, Series 7 & 66

      Head of Product Success

      Phil holds both Series 66 and Series 7 credentials and previously served as an Investment Consultant at TD Ameritrade. At Playbook, he's the authoritative voice representing our customers, spearheading product enhancements and strategic planning. Phil's unwavering dedication keeps us ahead in delivering top-notch user experiences.

      Tanza Loudenback, CFP®

      Editor

      Tanza is a CFP® certificant, writer, and editor. From 2015 to 2021, she was a top-read author and editor at Insider. Her work focuses on helping people make smart decisions with their money and is published by a variety of online publications.

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