Ten things to know before you dabble
1. If it is not cash, shares, property or bonds then it’s an alternative investment. This covers everything from gold to fine wine to stamps.
2. Serious investors buy alternative investments to spread their nest-egg around some more baskets. But they’ve got plenty of money and possibly won’t be hit too hard if they lose it.
3. Warning klaxon: many alternative investments aren’t regulated and are associated with more than their fair share of scams. Don’t consider punting until you’re debt-free and have a sizeable cash cushion.
4. Gold is a popular ‘safe haven’ investment because it tends to hold its value during an economic crash. At other times, that value can swing around. Check out the charts at www.gold.org.
5. You can buy physical gold in bars and coins. But don’t. You’ll have to pay to store it and you don’t get an income from it. A better way to invest is through a gold fund which holds shares of miners as well as the metal. Popular funds are Blackrock Gold & General and JP Morgan Natural Resources.
6. Investing in wine or whisky does have the benefit that if your bottles fall in value, you can drink them. Ironically, this is an illiquid investment – if you need to sell quickly, you may not be able to. And wine prices also fluctuate wildly – see www.liv-ex.com.
7. You’re also going to have to pay to store fine wine (not in your fridge). Also be aware of scams – use a reputable wine merchant.
8. Valuable stamps grab the headlines when they reach auction. Sadly those in your granddad’s album probably are worth little. A better route might be to buy into a fund investing in stamps (see www.stanleygibbons.com).
9. You’re unlikely to make money from art unless you find a forgotten Renoir in a junk shop or discover the next Damien Hirst at a graduate show. But at least you’ll have something nice to hang on your wall.
10. A more accessible (if less aesthetically pleasing) alternative investment is peer-to-peer lending where you lend money to individuals through websites such as Zopa or Funding Circle. You’ll get a better return than on savings accounts at the bank but that is because it’s not guaranteed you’ll get your money back.
- Find a comprehensive guide to whisky investment here.
- Click here for all you’ve ever wanted to know about stamps.
- Find out more about peer-to-peer lending at Uswitch here.
Last updated 22 August 2017.