I have 1k and I'd like to double it safely
October 5, 2014 9:56 AM   Subscribe

How do you take 1,000 dollars and make it into 2,000 safely and soundly?

I suddenly found myself with 1,000 dollars and before I start rationalizing that I need a bunch of unnecessary gadgets or gizmos, I'd like to double it... safely. So I don't want to go to a casino, I don't want to take a crazy risk and invest in something that may or may not give a good ROI, I'd like to figure out ways in my spare time I could take this money and make it 2,000. Slowly is fine.

I have some side things that are making a little cash, but what are some ideas that you've found to double your money? I'm up for listening to whatever - I'd just like sound ideas (I'd prefer not to risk... or if I do have to risk, it's a very calculated one).

I know zilch about the stock market so I'm reluctant to venture into that arena.
posted by Hands of Manos to Work & Money (24 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
No risk? There are five-year CDs paying 2.25%. That will double your money in roughly 31 years, though rates may improve over that span. There's also inflation.

Everything else has risk. If you want to double your money in the short term, a casino is the place to go. If you want to in the medium term, you're still going to have to take significant risks.
posted by backupjesus at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

How slowly is too slowly? If you invest that money in an online saving account like this one you could earn an interest rate of 0.75%. At that rate, it will only take you 93 years of compound interest to double your money.
posted by JDHarper at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't think this exists. If it did, I'd do it with my own money and not tell you about it.

The closest thing would be to invest in bonds and wait 40 years or whatever.
posted by cmoj at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2014 [17 favorites]

Vanguard municipal bond funds average around 5% return. You would double your money safely in about 14 years.

Higher yields = higher risk. There really isn't any way around that.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:13 AM on October 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Banks here in Canada all offer market-indexed GICs (similar to CDs, I believe) with no downside risk. The upside isn't as good as investments that are more closely tied to the markets and riskier, but they may (or may not) beat out the 2ish% you can currently get on guaranteed return GICs.

The main plus of this sort of investment is that it doesn't have the kind of fees or higher minimum buy-ins that buying mutual funds does. $1000 is usually the minimum on a stock-indexed GIC, so you'd qualify with your amount.

I imagine US banks also offer something similar.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:17 AM on October 5, 2014

Response by poster: buoys in the hood, this actually came from a temp part-time job/side project. I probably should have clarified that better in my question.
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:18 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Find something that's worth 2000 but on sale for 1,000 and buy it, and then sell it immediately.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:18 AM on October 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: There is really no such thing as doubling your money safely.

To the degree that you can double your money "safely", the safer the chance of doubling, the longer it will take on average.

One of the things that is considered very safe is putting it in an FDIC-ensured savings account, CD or the like. At present rates, that would make your money will double in something like 70 years. But even that isn't really doubling; you'll have to pay taxes on the interest, and inflation will eat into the worth of it anyway, so that (even ignoring taxes) in all likelihood you'll wind up having less value than you started with, despite having more money.

A step up from that would be US Treasury bonds. You're still talking decades to double, and again that's just doubling the amount of your money, not the value of your money.

Investing in a broad based stock market index fund will, on historical average, have your money double in maybe a decade or so. But that's on average; it is not remotely guaranteed. You stand significant risk.

Playing a single hand of blackjack will, if you know what you're doing, double your money instantly about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time it will wipe your money out.

I think you should ask yourself "Why do I want to double it?". Not from the point of view of "Is doubling my money a good thing" - of course it's a good thing - but from the point of view of "Why did I pick the word 'double'"? Why didn't you pick triple? Wouldn't that be better? Why not quadruple? Quintuple? Increase a hundred fold?

The reason you didn't pick "increase a hundred fold" is because you understand that's not realistic. With that in mind, think about why you picked "double". Is that realistic?

In the short term, no, it is not.
posted by Flunkie at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2014 [33 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you Flunkie!
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:25 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Spend it on some kind of specialist training in your field, then ask for a raise at work?
posted by hazyjane at 10:35 AM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

The only way I can think of double your money is to invest lots of labor along with the money. Buy raw materials, make something and sell it and you can certainly double the cash on hand but of course that is ignoring the value of your time - if you paid yourself a wage as well then you are unlikely to get a 100% profit. You see people doing this on eBay and etsy although it probably works better in local, less competitive marketplaces. I don't have any particular ideas for this but if that interests you, you might want to ask that more specific question.
posted by metahawk at 10:36 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's a reason that this very old joke exists:

"What's the quickest way to double your money?"
"Buy a mirror."
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

How about more side jobs until you have enough money to invest safely that will give you the $1000 return you seek?
posted by Vaike at 10:58 AM on October 5, 2014

If someone handed me $1000 dollars and told me to quickly extract $2000 dollars worth of value out of it ...

... I'd take a vacation to a place I had never been before.

And I'd take lots of photos.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:21 AM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I know zilch about the stock market so I'm reluctant to venture into that arena.

The stock market is a giant machine for squeezing financial growth out of money; if you want to turn money into more money without doing the work yourself, the stock market is where you'll ultimately end up. The trick is that it only works on average, in the long term -- you could think of it like a blackjack table where on average you tend to win and the house tends to lose, but that doesn't say anything about how you'll do on any given hand. So you need to make a lot of little bets, with the right mix of high-risk and low-risk investments to be confident you won't be too far behind when you need to cash out.

Fortunately all of that work can be done for you. An easy way to start is to invest in a Vanguard Target Retirement fund. These will take care of investing in a mix of higher risk/return and lower risk/return investments, based on how long you can wait before you want to use the money. If you click around on the different options (under "Which Target Retirement Fund fits your timeline?"), you can see what they recommend for different time horizons. It doesn't have to be retirement -- I think of it as, if you want to grow this money as much as possible while planning to spend it on a car or a vacation 5 years from now, the 2020 fund is Vanguard's recommendation for how to get the best car you can, while not taking too much risk that you won't be able to afford anything.


Alternatively you could absolutely double your money by buying stuff and selling it at a higher price, which is work but doesn't necessarily have to feel like it. For example, maybe you know a lot about guitars or bikes or antique furniture -- you could look for underpriced items on Craigslist, buy them and resell them at a higher price with better listings. You may or may not make more money per hour than you would at a part time job, but if you love playing with guitars or bikes or antique furniture it might turn out to feel like something for nothing.
posted by jhc at 11:45 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could consider making payday loans, legally or as a loan shark.

The typical payday loan company will lend you $1000 at the equivalent of at least 400% annual percentage rate interest. So they are doubling their money in about three months and quintupling it in the course of a year. Usually these are two-week loans, where the borrower of $1000 would pay back about $1150 (plus a transaction charge deducted from the original loan). So if you can get into this racket, your money would double pretty fast. (Some companies have rates of 600% or more APR.)

The problem is, as with all high-return investments, there is a risk, which is that payday loans have a default rate, which has been estimated at 6%. That might sound like a low risk, but it's not, since these are two-week loans. To double your money, you'd have to make 7 successful two-week loans of your $1000 without a default. That means you actually have an overall risk of 42% of losing your original $1000, although you'd be getting back that $150 plus fees on each loan. It doesn't matter whether you make one $1000 loan or ten $100 loans at a time, the risk of a losing the full principal is the same.

The other problem with this method is that it entails work, finding borrowers and then pursuing the deadbeats. So if you decide to invest time along with money, you're better off doing something that has a longer doubling expectation at a lower risk (and more work).
posted by beagle at 12:02 PM on October 5, 2014

Find something you can buy in insane bulk, for insanely low prices per-piece, then resell it online (ebay/etsy) singly or in smaller lots.

I make a living doing essentially this. You need to be willing to do some research and spend the time mailing orders out. Depending on what you find to sell, doubling your money sounds like a very low estimate to me - 5x and 10x are not that hard to achieve, depending of course on the item, the market, demand, etc.
posted by jessicapierce at 12:44 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Alternatively you could absolutely double your money by buying stuff and selling it at a higher price, which is work but doesn't necessarily have to feel like it. .........
posted by jhc at 1:45 PM on October 5
In his early teens, one of my older brothers started his day with a feather, or a hat, or a golf ball -- I don't know, and it doesn't matter. He traded the feather/hat/golf ball for (insert whatever here) and then traded that for the next, and then traded that for the next, moving up in value each step. He ended that day with (I'm not sure what, but it was worth one hell of a lot more than the feather/hat/golf ball -- maybe a moped?) and he looked at that, and looked back over that day, and it set his life. That one day literally changed his life.

He dropped out or was thrown out of high school but no matter, he did this or that, at around 18 he began work as a sheet metal worker; sheet metal / heating-cooling work was in our DNA, my father had a sheet metal shop but lost it, a maternal uncle had done very, very well in a sheet metal business, like 80 guys working, gorgeous house, luxury cars, not in any 1% but from our seat in the house -- blue collar people -- it sure was great. So anyways, my brother starts working as a sheet metal worker, a four year apprenticeship to become a sheet metal worker, earning union scale. (Handily, being an apprentice entailed being in school one night a week, which kept his ass out of the draft.) He found and married a girl who had similar ideas to his own, and they sure loved one another, he was 18, she was 19. And they were off. Always a shiny car, a new couch, whatever.

When I was in my freshman year of high school, I had a real bad fall on a construction site, bad concussion, hospitalized a few days, ended up with I think $425 from bitty insurance settlement, 1970 money. David borrowed some of that -- $250? -- bought a used telephone company van, and with the sheet metal shop tools my father still owned from his business that'd tanked, my brother and father started a new sheet metal / heating-A/C outfit out of our garage. My brother was driving a Lincoln Continental at 26 years old, his wife another fine car, built their first nice home. Branched from the sheet metal into home building -- and that is where the money is, a general contractor makes WAY more than subcontractors -- and that became his life.

He's maybe three years in the grave now -- Parkinson's was eating into him, and then cancer ate him -- he was I think 63. I'd guess he built 1000 houses in total, started with your basic 3 BR shacks for your average family, ended up building castles in a wealthy community NE of Phoenix, 1/2 a million and on up to probably 5 million dollar homes out in the desert. The guy was a walking building boom, he was an outstanding businessman, he was charming, he was funnier than moose piss.

He was clever -- in my experience, clever people find it easy to take advantage of people who are not so clever, by which I mean don't maybe trust them in the idea or area of money hint hint. Voice of experience. (I'm not so very clever, myself.) Pro Tip: Watch my brother play cards, you'd think he was at best breaking even, never much cash on the table in front of him, but watch closer -- he cleverly eased it off the table and into his pocket, bemoaning all the while the bad hand he just took. Business partners found themselves surprised at how little profit there was in ventures entered into with him. I loved him, and do love him -- his death still hurts my lame, dumb, stupid heart, I'm crying as I type this in -- and he sure loved me. I would never say that he was a dick, though of course he damn sure was a dick. But many -- most? -- clever people are dicks, in my experience of them; they've just got a good sense of how to maneuver situations to their advantage, and they find it difficult not to do so. That's pretty much my definition of clever, though you didn't ask. I'd not say David was cunning -- Stalin was cunning. Cheney is cunning. David was clever. I sure miss him.

tl;dr? Get a feather. Get clever. Profit.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:48 PM on October 5, 2014 [34 favorites]

Response by poster: dancestoblue, that kinda was all sorsta amazingly awesome
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:32 PM on October 5, 2014

The easiest way to double your money is to start selling stuff on Amazon using Retail Arbitrage (link to bible) or to buy stuff at thrift shops and eBay it. Seriously, if you're thoughtful and organized about it you can make your goal in a month or two, especially since Christmas is around the corner. There's a ton of free info on line about both strategies.
posted by carmicha at 2:37 PM on October 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Seek out banks that offer account bonuses. Use the cash to open them and then, to get the bonus, you often have to switch you direct deposit for 2-3 months. Make sure the terms allow you to cash out when you've rec'd the bonus.

Repeat as necessary. Prepare for some extra paperwork crap come tax season.

Once upon a time you could do this with online casino but I believe that ship has sailed.
posted by Angleton at 3:21 PM on October 5, 2014

Potomac Avenue: Find something that's worth 2000 but on sale for 1,000 and buy it, and then sell it immediately.

This works, i've turned $300 or so into over a grand this way over and over and over. The problem is that you're either

A. getting a one-off deal, in which case good for you, but now you're hosed
B. getting a deal that someone else either knows about, or will find out about.

Things like finding a huge stack of macbook pros someone donated to a thrift store, paying a pittance for them, and immediately selling them online for a bit under the current market value? instant cash. Or walking in to a store that suddenly had to close and just wiping out the inventory of things you can resell. The problem is that you can't replicate that.

The people i know who make good money consistently doing this only do used clothes. And it's like, buy a shirt for $2 and sell it for $30-50. They have to turn a lot of volume to make money, and it's a lot of work. Getting up at 6am over and over to hit certain thrift stores or church sales or whatever constantly, busing all over town(you'd take a hit of you were driving for sure), etc etc. There's also people who only shop for high end brands, and make up their time by selling stuff that will clear for at least a couple hundred bucks each. Vintage designer stuff, etc. That's sort of the "advanced" level of that.

Me? i'm content to have pocket/silly toys/drinking/rainy day money only doing computer/stereo/electronics stuff. But i know people who do this as their second job and only work part time and seem to be doing pretty damn well, and i know a couple people who just stack money doing this. Not six figures or anything, but they aren't hurting at all.

The best part about this too is that you basically can't lose money. If you're shopping at the right places, each item should cost less than $5, or even less than $1. If you're buying the right stuff, which is the hardest part to learn, some local shop will pay you at least $5 for it. The failure mode isn't "the money goes down the toilet", it's "i don't make as much as i thought i would".

I know it might not be exactly what you're looking for, but i've plowed extra money like this back into that and made money at it since i was a preteen. and i'm still doing it today.
posted by emptythought at 10:19 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I see you're in Atlanta. Another pretty fast way to double your money quickly and safely might be to rent an apartment in an appealing location (even a studio is fine), furnish it with a charming mix of IKEA and thrift store finds and put it up on AirBnB. Look near Emory/CDC, GA-Tech or the Convention Center.
posted by carmicha at 2:41 PM on October 6, 2014

That's an easy way to print money, but make sure your lease on said hypothetical apartment allows subletting unless you want an eviction on your record.
posted by emptythought at 3:49 PM on October 6, 2014

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