When you think about investing you probably automatically think of the stock market, but that isn't the only (or necessarily the best) way to invest. If you're too scared to join the wild ride of the stock market, there are plenty of alternatives to investing.

Real Estate

One of the most common stock market alternatives is real estate. Investing in real estate can be a serious money maker if done correctly.

There are two major categories for investing in real estate: traditional rental properties and real estate investment groups. Each technique has its set of advantages and disadvantages.

Rental properties can be one of the biggest earners, but also require a lot more hands-on work and research. The idea of rental properties is simple; you own a piece of property (house, apartment, office space, etc.), and you rent out the space every month to a lucky tenant. The main disadvantage of this approach is the upkeep and stress that comes with being a landlord. There will be rent checks to handle, maintenance, and dealing with unruly tenants.

The other option is real estate investment groups. These groups work like traditional mutual funds but with real estate. Real estate investment groups typically won't have as high return on invest as owning rental properties, but you won't have the added stress of the hands-on work of being a landlord. Real estate investment groups can own anything from office complexes to condos or apartments.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Looking for the hot new alternative in investing? Well look no further, peer-to-peer is the way to go. Peer-to-peer lending is an old idea that has gained a new spin thanks to the Internet.

Peer-to-peer lending is a simple idea: someone needs money, so someone lends him or her money. It's as easy as that. Thanks to websites like Prosper and Lending Club, peer-to-peer lending has never been easier. These sites will allow you to create a profile and connect with consumers looking for loans. Each site works a little differently, but both of them are excellent alternatives to investing in the up-and-down rollercoaster of the stock market.

Both Prosper and Lending Club are easy to start using, require as little as $25 to get started and can have great return-on-investments. Each peer-to-peer loan will have a different risk as well as a different interest rate.

Rewards Credit Cards

This is one alternative that most consumers don't see as "investing", but many people are missing out on an excellent tool. Investing is, spending money with the idea that you will receive a return on that money – which is exactly what happens when you use a credit card with a rewards program. The average American has around 3 to 4 credit cards, 7% of Americans have 7 or more credit cards. If you're using a credit card, you might as well be rewarded for it right? Unless there is an annual fee for the credit cards, you're basically investing money for free.

Each rewards credit card is different, but almost all of them have excellent benefits that can stack up. Some credit cards will offer anywhere from 1% - 5% on certain purchases or a point system that can be redeems for flights, hotels, or gift cards. All of this equals money you do not have to spend. There are people out there raking in credit card rewards and turning those earnings into other investments.


Antiques can be one of the most interesting alternatives to the stock markets, but it can also be one of the most lucrative. To be successful in antique investing, you'll have to do your research first. Without research, more than likely you'll end up buying some old junk that isn't worth what you paid for it.

The key to smart antique investing is to immerse yourself into the antique world. Antique stores can be a goldmine for investments if you know what you are looking for. Start going to local shops, bookmark antique websites, or find local experts. Everyone has heard stories of someone that bought a painting for $2 at a yard sale and sold it for $25,500. This doesn't happen to everyone but more than likely you'll be able to sell most things for a nice mark up from the purchase price.


The idea of investing in gold is thought to be outdated, but that's not true. Gold is still a wise alternative to the stock market. Gold is considerably valuable in every nation across the globe, but it's still a risky investment because of how much the value fluctuates.

There are a couple of different ways that you can invest in gold. But the easiest and obvious way is actually to buy gold. You can buy it in the form of coins, bullion, or jewelry. This is a great way to ensure that your investment is safe and secure; the major disadvantage is you must have a place to store all of these gold investments.

Bottom Line

The truth is there are many ways to invest your money that are outside of the stock market. The most important thing you can do is research as much as you can and find an investment with which you feel the most comfortable.

Paul Moyer is the founder of SavingFreak.com and a personal finance coach: e-mail: paul@savingfreak.com twitter: @savingfreak