I feel a bit self-conscious with the title above given that web-searches along these lines turn up mostly people who are struggling to get rid of debt or build a modest amount of financial security. Nonetheless, being an American I can't really ask my family and friends, so I turn instead to you, the (mostly) anonymous Internet for advice.

I have "enough" going to retirement that I can afford to lose this money but would (obviously) rather not. So I'm not entertaining high-risk investments as an option. My goal is to earn the maximum return on my investment while keeping the risk "within reason". I'm a complete novice here...

The following options have occurred to me:

  1. Invest in treasury bonds and maybe I'll double the money before I retire (boring).
  2. Become a landlord (I have a few friends who do this as a side-investment and seem unhappy).
  3. Start a business. I don't want to give up my day job, so the kinds of businesses I could really engage in would be restricted to nights and weekends. I have a lot of energy and drive, but I don't really know if this kind of side-business thing is workable.

I would be earnestly grateful for serious suggestions at things you think are worth considering.

Ten Months Later: I thought I'd report back on what I decided to do. I invested $35k in treasuries and $65k in stocks and mutual funds (all of which have made money EXCEPT the SP500 index, which has gone down). I also started a side business which netted $80k in 2011 before taxes. However, I'm burned out on this side business and cutting back; selling off my time with family, some of my sleep-time and all of my relaxation-time was too much.

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    Only option is a trip to LAS VEGAS :) !!
    – DumbCoder
    Apr 4, 2011 at 10:17
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    You've missed the most obvious option. The stock market. Yeah, it's a little risky, but landlording is easily worse, and "start a business" even more so. You probably wouldn't want 100% stocks, mind you (pick up some bonds too), but a few decent index funds can earn you some decent returns without requiring you to make a second career out of stock-picking.
    – user296
    Apr 4, 2011 at 23:18
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    Which books? (I guess that's a separate question :))
    – Fixee
    Apr 8, 2011 at 21:50
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    What was the side business, out of interest? Feb 1, 2012 at 7:13
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    Thanks for coming back to tell us. I'm glad it turned out reasonably well.
    – poolie
    Feb 3, 2012 at 0:56

5 Answers 5

  1. Treasury bonds (in the US) are at very low interest rates now. That leaves less room for growth than if they were at high interest rates. Take that advice for what you will.
  2. I'm a landlord, and I'm quite happy with the way things are going. If you want to go this route, use some of your money to attend a John Schaub seminar (after reading his books).
  3. Starting a (side) business is a great idea. I'd be careful about throwing too much money at a new venture, for the main reason that you might not really know the ropes well enough. Don't let the money burn a hole in your pocket. Put some time in (10 hours/week is a good goal) and within a year or two you'll have competency in what you're doing, and will see whether you made the right choice or not. Then consider expanding the business with the money.
  • 1
    mbhunter - Isn't being a landlord the same as having a side business?
    – gef05
    Apr 4, 2011 at 10:52
  • @gef05: I agree. I was answering OP's question point by point, though; s/he singled that particular side business out there.
    – mbhunter
    Apr 4, 2011 at 15:18

For any sort of investment you need to understand your risks first. If you're going to put money into the stock or bond market I would get a hold of Graham's "The Intelligent Investor" first, or any other solid value investing book, and educate yourself on what the risks are.

I can't speak about real estate investing but I am sure there are plenty of books describing risks and benefits of that as well. I could see inflation/deflation having an effect there but I think the biggest impact on the landlord front is quality of life in the area you are renting and the quality of the tenant you can get. One crazy tenant and you will be driven mad yourself.

As for starting a business, one thing I would like to say is that money does not automatically make money. The business should be driven by a product or service that you can provide first, and the backing seed capital second. In my opinion you will have to put energy and time worth much more than the 100k into a business over time to make it successful so the availability of capital should not be the driving decision here.

Hope this helps more than it confuses.


You can start a software company. Than your office will be around the world and you can work whenever you want. If you can appoint some people who can collect work from here and there and the coder around the world can give you the job done(this can be done by posting your work in various freelancing site). It is challenging, because you have to get yourself up-to-date with the technological things.


As you have already good on your retirement kitty. Assuming you have a sufficient cash for difficult situations, explore the options of investing in Shares and Mutual Funds.
As you are new to Stock Market, begin slowly by investing into Mutual Funds and ETF for precious metals. This will help you understand and give you confidence on markets and returns.
Real estate is a good option, the down side being the hassle of getting rental and the illiquid nature of the investment.


If you want a concrete investment tip, precious metals (e.g. gold, silver) are on a pretty good run these days, personally I still think they have ways to go as there are just too many problems with modern monetary policy of an almost existential nature, and gold and silver are better stores of value than fiat money. Silver is particularly hot right now, but keep in mind that the increased volatility means increased risk.

If the Fed keeps its foot on the pedals of the dollar printing press and we get QE3 this summer, that will most likely mean more people piling into the PMs to hedge against inflation. If the Fed starts to tighten it's policy then that's probably bad news for both equities and bonds and so PMs could be seen as a safe haven investment. These are the main reasons why PMs take up a good portion of my portfolio and will continue to do so untill I see how the global economy plays out over the next couple of years.

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    So your advice is "Buy high"?
    – JohnFx
    Apr 4, 2011 at 14:11
  • @JohnFx Sure, compared to 10 years ago the prices are high. But people have been calling for a top in gold for several years now. And with the current global economic climate I think the fundamental forces that have driven up the prices are strong as ever. You could still say that after 10 years of positive returns, gold might be overdue for a correction. If that were to happen I would still just see it as a buying opportunity. I know I'm going to stay long until I see a return to fiscal responsibility from the fed and treasury. Apr 4, 2011 at 15:14
  • For what I would call a "moderate" view on precious metals, read some of the "Permanent Portfolio" stuff. (Many people would still say his 25% allocation to gold is high, but it is not so high, and he has more background than the average goldbug.)
    – poolie
    Jan 29, 2012 at 2:45

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