Investing $100K
November 23, 2004 6:26 PM   Subscribe

If you had US$100,000 drop into your lap (I wish), and you were employed and debt-free, how would you put it to work to make a bigger nest egg or retirement fund? How would your strategy differ if you had high or low aversion to risk?

A related question might be: what's the best source of information on this kind of investing you've seen?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken to Work & Money (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If $100,000 dropped into my lap I'd get myself a vehicle or two (maybe a van to carry my sleeping bag and the motorcycle I also ain't got yet).

Nest eggs? Retirement funds? Investment strategies? Huh?
posted by davy at 6:44 PM on November 23, 2004

I'd put it in one of the guaranteed investments that are available in Canada (at least). They're insured against loss, so you're guaranteed to get at least the whole investment back, plus it pays a hefty dividend throughout the year, plus there's a chance of the stock portfolio increasing in value, yielding yet more proft when the investment term ends.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2004

Compound interest on $100,000 would be sweet.
posted by TetrisKid at 7:14 PM on November 23, 2004

What kind of investment do you mean, fff?

I would consider using it as a downpayment on a property and then deducting interest payments from a mortgage from my income. Or investing in a rental property and using the rent to pay the mortgage. Metals look good about now, but I don't know about the long term. They say silver will appreciate greatly over the very long term. Or you could pick a sector, spread the money around and hope for the best. Or just pick mutual funds that advertise potential high gains. The stock market makes me nervous though, personally. Direct foreign investment is also risky, but can come with a huge payoff. Put the money in the Indian stock market, or Turkish, or any number of others. Or invest in companies heavily exposed to China.

For more risk-averse investments, I would put it in short term revolving T-bills taking advantage of the rise in interest rates, or some type of money market fund to protect against the devaluing of the US (or any other) dollar. Some sort of income trust might also be appropriate. Or even just an index fund. And if you can invest tax free (like in a 401k, RRSP or even an education fund), all the better.

To scare you off the stock markets, Henry Blodget wrote (writes) a great series on Slate.
posted by loquax at 7:19 PM on November 23, 2004

I agree with one of loquax's answers: put the money towards a rental property, and let the tenants pay off the remainder of your mortgage. Repeat in five or ten years. I firmly believe that owning lots property is one of the best low risk answers to long-term financial independence.

If I was feeling wacky, I would probably go into daytrading. From what I understand, the key to daytrading success is to pick a sector and research the crap out of it on a constant basis (well, that and a lot of good timing), which is the sort of thing I enjoy. Mind you, I say that with absolutely no market experience at all so I quite possibly don't know what I'm talking about. So, um, I guess you should stick with the real estate.
posted by jess at 7:58 PM on November 23, 2004

My wife and I were just talking about this today. If we would come into this type of money, we would both go back to school full-time and get brand-spanking new degrees.
posted by punkrockrat at 8:21 PM on November 23, 2004

Buying rental property is a great idea, but there are some issues with it that most other investments don't have. It requires a bigger investment than most property for personal use. In most cases, your down payment has to be closer to 40% of the property. It also requires more effort to maintain than most other investments, and it comes with the risk that you won't find tenants and be stuck with the carrying costs. The best solution is to buy a multil-dwelling unit, live in one of the units and rent out the rest. That way your down payment can (usually) be lower, and it's less effort to deal with the day to day requirements of the investment.

Real estate of some sort is definitely the way I'd go though, if I had $100,000, and regardless of the risk level I was prepared to accept. That is, if I needed to invest it in North America
posted by loquax at 8:34 PM on November 23, 2004

First decision: are you going to invest in yourself or in some other means of making money. If the former, then b1tr0t's answer is pretty good. You are, in essence, betting that your degree will generate social capital that can then be translated into financial capital.

If you don't want to do this, then you're on the second decision, which you've already foreseen: are you risk-averse or risk-friendly.

If you are risk-averse, real estate in the form of rental property or even just owning your own place is about the safest bet there is. First, because you are investing in a tangible thing that, in general, will appreciate in value in the long term. Second, because if you own rather than rent, you are saving thousands of dollars a year on rent for yourself. Third, if you can rent out some portion of the property that you own, then you can actually generate income from your property, which can in turn be invested elsewhere.

If you are willing to shoulder some risk, then the place where you can get the highest rate or return on your investment is probably the stock market. First, take a few thousand of those dollars and educate yourself about financial matters. Buy some books, take some classes, talk to a good broker. Then make some investments.

If it were me, I'd split my windfall into thirds. One third would go into conservative investments such as an emergency savings account, index funds, bonds/t-bills, etc. Another third I would put into slightly more risky kinds of stocks and mutual funds - for example, I would be able to afford the $10K minimum buy-in for some of the health and energy sector funds that Vanguard offers. Hell, I might even buy a share or two of Berkshire Hathaway.

The third portion of my windfall would go towards some more risky ventures. Armed with my new knowledge about high finance, I'd dive into some more speculative stocks, perhaps try out going short and long on some stocks, and so forth.

That last third could go into any other sort of risky venture: investing in a friend's business; learning how to play poker and going to Vegas with $30K in your pocket; whatever. And it could be a half, or even 2/3 of you windfall. The point here is, I wouldn't risk my entire windfall on a crazy get-rich scheme. I'd figure out how much of it I'd be willing to lose outright, and mess around with that. Sorta like I do now, just with 10X the money.

And when you get down to it, $100K really isn't that much money. Especially if you have to pay taxes on it....
posted by googly at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2004

Finance is what I do for a living - it's something I understand and enjoy - and I'm young/not particularly risk averse, so I'd probably take half of it and play with a new portfolio, while putting the other half in my existing long-term investments. If I were a lot older, a lot closer to retirement, and more risk averse I'd put a lot of it into bond funds that oriented toward quality (T-bills, muni, agency, and high quality corporate debt). The tangible side of real estate - fixing things and dealing with people - just isn't my kind of sandwich. A REIT is really as close to the actual real estate experience as I'd care to get (the 90+% of income comes back as dividends is fine with me).

I'm really glad no one has said "lottery tickets"
posted by milkrate at 9:37 PM on November 23, 2004

I'd invest it in my higher-risk business ventures, and probably put aside some to play in a few more big buy-in poker tournaments too.

As far as my tolerance for risk goes... I'm extremely tolerant to high risk ventures. I'm still young enough to make more money if I lose it, so I'd rather aim high and miss than get 5%/yr out of $100k.
posted by mosch at 9:44 PM on November 23, 2004

Well, I would invest half of it in glorious mutual funds, and give the rest of it to my friend Asudalah in securities.
posted by icontemplate at 10:23 PM on November 23, 2004

Like others have said: purchase real estate for myself first (every month you don't pay rent is money in the bank). In most places 100,000 grand would be just about gone after doing that.

I wouldn't include education into that sum, as that's an investment one should do regardless of some unexpected windfall. Investing in yourself is never a bad idea, and education loans offer reasonable rates, and are pretty attainable.
posted by herc at 10:57 PM on November 23, 2004

Well, M. Le Poulet Fantastique, I am employed, if barely, and debt free, and I believe I can answer your question in 3 words: coke and hookers. Let the future take care of itself.

This may not seem helpful, but allow me to elaborate. There are essentially three options for any windfall:

1. Invest it in yourself.
2. Invest it in someone else.
3. Piss it away.

To address these points in order:

1. I would initially be tempted to put it into a business based around my professional specialty, but I am born to lose. I would lose it all, and suffer untold headaches in the process.

2. Investing is a rich man's game. 100K is chump change and we all know it.

3. In the words of our countryman Ronnie Hawkins, "I spent ninety percent of my money on wine, women and song and just wasted the other ten percent."
posted by alex_reno at 1:04 AM on November 24, 2004

Just to be clear, coke and hookers is a metaphor, ok?
posted by alex_reno at 1:15 AM on November 24, 2004

I'm curious as to why so many people believe that property/real estate is a low-risk investment. Is this because you've never experienced a property-price crash? While I can see that buying the place that you live in saves on rent, if you believe that there is a property bubble,
you might be setting yourself up for years and years of paying back something that will never be worth what you paid. Every investment has risk, safe as houses isn't.
posted by quiet at 2:06 AM on November 24, 2004

Googly's strategy is pretty good.

Nest eggs? Retirement funds? Investment strategies? Huh?

It's never too early to begin investing for retirement.

...after a few years I'd feel comfortable large-dollar investments.

Insufficient funds is not a valid argument, as even a little bit invested each month is better than nothing, and will result in a sizable nest egg over the long run.

After making sure I had at least 3 months' worth of expenses in a savings account that earns at least 2% interest (currently is paying 2.25%), I would invest the maximum yearly allowable in a Roth IRA (assuming you're investing in the US; until April 2005, it's $3,000, the following year it'll be $4,000 I believe), the remainder in either a 401K, 403b, or "normal" IRA, depending on the type of company you work for (the first two are IRAs for employees of non-profits), or mutual funds in a nonretirement vehicle. The allocation of funds in any of the vehicle types I've mentioned so far should be diverse, according to your tolerance of risk. Generally, the younger you are, the more risk you can/should take. The details of asset allocation is best left to a financial planner, many do not charge an outright fee, but receive a commission that does into come directly out of your pocket. The argument for using a financial planner is that, unless you have specialized financial knowledge (in which case you likely would not be posting the question), any amount of research you perform on which funds to choose will not hold a candle to the experience a financial planner has.

I would not invest in stocks or begin day-trading. This is unlikely to be a wise use of your hard-earned money nor of your time.

Quiet has a good point, real estate is not risk-free. However, depending on the location in which you are thinking of investing in real estate, property values may have a very good chance of rising (here in the metro Washington, DC area, the argument is that, at least for the foreseeable future, we can expect to have an almost guaranteed influx of people, thereby almost guaranteeing a rise in property values). However, as others have pointed out, maintaining a rental property does take a good deal of work. In addition, $100K might not buy very much in a location where you will expect the property values to rise, unless you purchase "fixer-upper", gut the insides, renovate, then either resell or rent out. The net expense after all this will of course exceed your original $100K, however.
posted by cahlers at 5:03 AM on November 24, 2004

In reference to the 2.25% interest-earning account mentioned in my post above, I was referring to ING Direct. This is an internet-only establishment, you can link it to your checking account or any other account your wish. they also accept direct deposit. I am not in any way affiliated with this company, I only have found it to be an extremely convenient way to save.
posted by cahlers at 5:08 AM on November 24, 2004

Investing is a rich man's game. doesn't need to be if you invest a little at a time. Many mutual funds allow a very small initial investment if you set up an automatic investment plan, thereby also taking advantage of dollar cost averaging.

100K is chump change and we all know it.

It may be if you're talking about investing in real estate. $100K will not buy alot in many urban markets. However, investing all or even part of $100K in a retirement fund will benefit you incredibly in the long run, especially if you're young. Again, the younger a person is, the less he/she needs to invest (on a regular basis) into a retirement fund, resulting in a much bigger nest egg in the end than someone who starts much later.
posted by cahlers at 5:15 AM on November 24, 2004

day trading... ugh. day trading makes the people who run the trading service money, it doesn't help the traders that much. what they don't want you to know is that the way to make money on the market is to purchase stock in a solid company and hold on to it. like property, there are short-term ups and downs. but like property, the long-term outcome is going to be more money. selling it and buying it again on a daily or weekly basis doesn't make you much money at all; your short-term gains are generally offset by the trade price. buy and hang on.

and if you do invest, go for a solid, real, product-based company. tech stocks may be the big thing, but anyone who lost their ass in the dot-com bubble burst will be happy to tell you that putting your money into GE or Boeing or GM is a "safer" move than buying google stock. companies that make that much money a year are a pretty safe bet (barring an enron-type thing), however companies that don't produce a real, tangible product are liable to drop precipitously and you're left with a million dollars worth of stock (remember when every damn website had an "e" in front of it?)

if it was me with the $100k though, i'd realize that i know dick about stocks, and hand the loot to someone who does, like an established mutual funds company. my own personal inclination is to invest in bonds; lower return, yes, but it's a guaranteed return, and i don't like the idea of losing my cash. guess i'm sort of conservative in my investment ideas.

but property? if you don't have a house, buy one. that much cash will make a dandy down payment on a nice house. paying rent sucks. and there's no better tax shelter than owning a home.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:33 AM on November 24, 2004

I fully agree with caution live frogs. Daytrading is no good. Use a financial professional to guide you in your investing decisions. Purchase a property to avoid paying rent.
posted by cahlers at 6:42 AM on November 24, 2004

I'm curious as to why so many people believe that property/real estate is a low-risk investment. Is this because you've never experienced a property-price crash?...if you believe that there is a property bubble,
you might be setting yourself up for years and years of paying back something that will never be worth what you paid.

Very good point. However, compared to almost all other investments, it is relatively low-risk. Any investment - precious metals, stocks, currency, real estate, etc. - can experience a bubble and a subsequent crash. Speculating on real estate - that is, buying property not because you think it is priced fairly, but because you think other people will pay even more for it than you in the future - is inherently risky. As with anything else, don't overpay for an investment.

The one nice thing about real estate is that if the market does crash, well, at least you still have a house to live in. If the market in precious metals crashes, all you have are a few very pricey shiny bricks; and if the stock market crashes all you have is some pricey toilet paper with writing on it...
posted by googly at 6:57 AM on November 24, 2004

As a regular investor, I have to second live frogs advice.

I do almost all of my investing by letting a professional handle my portfolio. About once or twice a year I realize that I know enough about a stock to make a reasonable gamble. Most of the time, I'd be better off flipping coins since the market generally knows everything that I know.
posted by mosch at 7:39 AM on November 24, 2004

This just happened to my roommate two weeks ago (same amount even).

She dropped about 8-10 grand on a new wardrobe and invested the rest in what she considered to be "safe" stocks.

If it happened to me: I'd finally get out of debt and buy a stick of Bazooka bubble gum with the change.
posted by quasistoic at 9:55 AM on November 24, 2004

I'd buy a quarter section or two in BC about 50% in timber and 50% farm and grassland with year round surface water backing on crown land and open a small eco friendly B&B.

The great thing about real estate IMO is the ability to leverage your investment 4:1.
posted by Mitheral at 11:01 AM on November 24, 2004

I'm curious as to why so many people believe that property/real estate is a low-risk investment.

It's not, really, but as many people have said, At least you have a roof over your head. If you get into a large urban area before it's revitalized, and can buy on the cheap, then good for you. Otherwise, buy up the property that you think people would flock to in times of recession. Think cheap cost of living. The mid-west, for example, or parts of the south. Or India (kidding, kidding).

Mitheral is on the right track -- get a big plot of land with a reasonably-sized house and a reliable source of water. BC's great because the land is cheap, and you can use your real-estate as a base for future marijuana enterprises. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:44 PM on November 24, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas, all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:10 PM on November 25, 2004

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