How I Invest My Money

How I Invest My Money: Tools and Platforms for Investing

By Rob | April 12th, 2016 | 32 Comments
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I love investing. Whether it’s trading stocks, finding real estate deals, or playing around with an epic business idea, I have a lot of fun finding ways to get my money to work for me.

Because I know many people are interested in finding great ways to invest, I thought I would list the tools I use to invest my money. This list consists of my active investments, and I will regularly update it when I discover additional places to put my money.

Although I enjoy using these services, they may not be right for you. Investing is always risky, so spend some time thinking before throwing your money into a specific investment. And, be sure to diversify! By keeping your money in several different places, you add an additional level of security and safety to your finances.

My current favorite investment tools are:

  • Fundrise: Invest as little as $1,000 in real estate. Historical returns around 10%!
  • TradeKing: Traditional stock broker great for options trading (no minimum, $5 per trade).
  • MotifInvesting: Non-traditional stock broker, great for IPO investing and self-developed ETFs (no minimum, $10 per trade).

Now, here’s how I currently invest my money — along with a brief description of each platform.

Fundrise: Crowdfunded real estate investing

Fundrise Real Estate investingFundrise is a crowdfunded real estate investing platform that I’ve just started using. If you’re an accredited investor (making over $200,000 a year) you can buy real estate notes for as little as $5,000. Meanwhile, if you’re not an accredited investor, you can buy into their eREIT with a $1,000 minimum.

I’m investing in the Fundrise eREIT and earning a 10% annual return! Because I love real estate, but don’t like the hassle of trying to manage it (and don’t have enough wealth to go crazy with real estate anyway), I’m loving the Fundrise eREIT. You can read my review of Fundrise for more details around how it works.

I use Fundrise for:

  • “Owning” real estate without having to deal with managing the property. As this is a new investment, I’ll let you know how it turns out – but the returns could be 10-15%! If it works out well, I may invest more here.

Learn more about the available investments on Fundrise here.

 

Motif Investing: Long-term stocks and IPOs

Motif Investing is a stock trading platform with a twist. For only $9.95 per trade, you can purchase a “motif” (essentially an ETF of up to 30 stocks) created by either yourself or someone else. In other words, while a regular investment platform would charge between $5-20 per stock, Motif charges a flat rate of $10 – potentially saving you $300+ per investment purchase.

Additionally, rather than purchasing a number of shares, you invest a dollar amount – which can result in fractional shares. I love this because it allows me to invest as little as a few dollars in a stock that might cost $500+ per share.

I use Motif Investing for:

  • Long-term investments in companies that I don’t want to own 100+ shares in.
  • Access to IPO investments! This benefit is starting in the near future, but it’s huge. An IPO is when a company first starts trading on the public market. If you own the stock before it starts trading, you can make 30%+ in a single day! In the near future, all JP Morgan initial public offerings will be available to Motif members. So sign up if you want to make money on IPOs!

TradeKing: Options trading and traditional stock investments

TradeKing investingTradeKing is probably the best priced traditional stock broker. With $5 trades and all of the options that come with a traditional online broker, you can use TradeKing to purchase shares on margin, buy/sell options, and do anything else you can do with a traditional stockbroker – but for about half the cost.

I’ve been using TradeKing for years and am very happy with the way they operate. I used to use them for all of my investing. Now, although I use many of the other services on this page, I still frequent TradeKing for specific investments.

I use TradeKing for:

  • Buying and selling options. Although some people get complex with options trading, my process is simple. I purchase 100 shares in a company I like, and then I sell a “covered call” option. This means that, if the stock goes over a certain price, I am obligated to sell it at a lower price. Essentially, this method is akin to putting renters in a house you own. You are able to receive regular income without selling the property.
  • I don’t trade on margin, but if I did, I would likely use TradeKing for this as well.

Sign up bonus!

If you use this deal to open an account, you’ll get $500-1000 in free trades – just for signing up! This is a great way to test out TradeKing and/or option trading.

Betterment: The largest robo-advisor

Betterment is one of the two most prominent robo-advisor or robo-investing companies on the market. You state your financial objective (saving, growth, etc.) and they diversify your investment accordingly.

There is no minimum investment – but you need to have either $10,000 or a $100/month scheduled deposit to avoid a $3/month fee. From there, the only cost is a 0.15-0.35% management fee – far lower than the average investment firm.

I use Betterment for:

  • My rainy day fund. One of their options is a bond heavy account that essentially gives you a 2% return (give or take). Because these funds are easily accessible, it’s a great place to put my savings because I get a higher return than when I just have a few grand sitting in the bank.
  • By scheduling the automatic monthly deposit, I also figure that it’s ensuring that I save regularly.  

Sign up bonus!

Use this link to receive up to six months of investing completely free (based on the amount you invest). Although the fee is low to start, this can save you a few extra bucks.

Robinhood App – Short-term stock trades

Robinhood App InvestingThe Robinhood App is pretty cool because it’s a completely free stock trading app (currently only available for the iPhone). Once you add funds, you can buy and sell stocks without paying anything in fees!

Currently, the app is limited in its abilities, but it’s still a great tool to use for buying and selling short-term stocks – especially if your investment capital is minimal. When you only have $100 to invest, those $5 fees can add up quickly.

I use Robinhood App for:

  • Short-term stock trades. I generally leave a bit of money in Robinhood in case there’s a quick purchase I want to make. For example, if a company’s stock plummets one day and I know the market overcorrected, I’ll use Robinhood to purchase stock with the intention of selling it again in a few days.

Sign up bonus!

Using this link you’ll receive one free share of stock after making your first deposit into your Robinhood account. This stock could be worth anywhere from $1 to $1000! Claim your free share of stock today.

iPage: Blog and Business

iPage for website hostingGrowing a business is probably one of the best financial moves you can make – even if you’re employed full-time. Not only does growing a business result in potentially high returns, but it also provides a fantastic learning opportunity! When you create a product/service, market yourself, and maintain positive relationships with your customers, you develop valuable skills that can help you in all areas of life.

One of the easiest ways to get started with a “business” is actually with a blog. Running your own blog allows you to slowly develop an audience, learn how to market yourself and build professional relationships, and potentially sell something!

I use iPage for my web hosting because I’ve found it to be one of the highest quality, low cost website hosting services out there. If you’d like to start growing your own online presence, read my post on how to start a blog in 20 minutes.

I use iPage for:

  • Hosting my personal/brand blog, MoneyNomad.com. Part fun project, part side-hustle, I’m using Money Nomad to share my experiences and education while making money in the process.
  • Hosting several business sites for my other projects.
  • Experimental online stores. I experiment with a variety of business ideas, and iPage allows me to host unlimited websites from one account – which makes it incredibly easy for someone like me (who has a new idea every 20 minutes) to try them out without going broke!

Sign up bonus!

By using this link here, you can get one year of hosting and a free domain for $1.99/month – the best deal I’ve come across on the web for quality hosting.

WiseBanyan: The no fee robo-advisor

Wise Banyan LogoI recently started investing with WiseBanyan and love their no-fee approach to investment management. While traditional investment advisors often charge 1-1.5%, and other robo-advisors charge .15-.35%, WiseBanyan charges a total of $0 in management fees. Instead, they make money by offering extras for a fee (such as tax loss harvesting). You only pay if you need these extras.

You can start investing in stocks and bonds with WiseBanyan by investing as little as $1/month! These low fees and low investment minimums really make WiseBanyan the robo-advisor for the people. Whether you’re a millionaire or near broke, WiseBanyan gives you the opportunity to save and invest in a way that maximizes your returns.

I use WiseBanyan for:

  • Automatic vacation savings
  • Likely for my IRA in the near future

Investment tools and platforms I no longer use

As I am constantly experimenting with new investment tools, there are some that have proven to be less than impressive.

I no longer use the following investment tools:

  • LendingClub: The concept behind peer-to-peer lending is great, but the returns are less than impressive. Because your money is only growing when it is invested in a note, and defaults can cause a big hit, I discovered that my real returns were about 3% annually. After a few possible scandals and the CEO being booted out, I decided that it was time to invest elsewhere.
  • Acorns: Acorns is the robo-advisor that touts itself as an easy way to save without thinking about it. The tool simply rounds up any purchase that you make to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. Although a great concept, their $1/month fee results in management fees that can easily eat up all of your investment returns and then some. I recommend using WiseBanyan to invest monthly instead — it’s still automatic and the fees are 100% lower.

How do you invest?

I’m always looking for new investment opportunities. Currently, this is how I invest my money. When I start trying something new, I’ll certainly add it to this list. In the meantime, if you’ve discovered an amazing investment tool or service, share it in the comments section. I’d love to check it out!

About Author Rob

Rob blogs at Money Nomad - where he shares strategies and tips for becoming a remote entrepreneur. When not working on his own projects, Rob writes articles for businesses and thought leaders. You can find him on Twitter @rlerich.

32 thoughts on “How I Invest My Money: Tools and Platforms for Investing

    1. I’ve been happy with Lending Club so far. You want to be smart about how you diversify, but the return I’ve received has been pretty good.

  1. I admit I’m intimidated by investing. I feel clueless, so I avoid it. These look like interesting ideas, though, especially the RobinHood app.

    1. The Robinhood app is awesome! However, if you are unsure about how you would like to invest, Betterment or Wealthfront may be better choices – as they do all of the work for you! You just get to let your money grow. But it ultimately depends on your goals and how involved you want to be with your investing.

  2. Although crowdfunding is a fairly new idea but it’s made huge news in the real estate industry recent days. Crowdfunding provides a platform to market your deals to a wider segment of the public. It is a good choice and it is projected to be a hit in 2016.

    1. You’re right Stacy! Especially with some new regulations making crowdfunding easier for non-accredited investors, it’ll continue to become more popular. Plus, it’s a fun way to invest as you’re helping small businesses thrive! Essentially becoming a part of their story.

    1. Thanks man! And hopefully you can start investing soon yourself! The sooner you invest, the sooner you’ll be financially free. Definitely something to strive for!

  3. I mostly invest in ETFs. Low cost excellent returns and diversify a portfolio. ETFs follow sector index.

    Hey Rob, for a nomad like you, did you ever thoughts to use a brokerage in Singapore or Hong Kong where you can hold money in different currency and invest in other markets instead the limitation of US banks/trading accounts?

    1. I agree that ETFs are an excellent way to invest. And I’ve always loved the idea of investing internationally, but I haven’t looked into it much. But that sounds like fun – I’m going to stop by your blog and I’ll have to ask you to share some more information about how that works. Definitely sounds like a fun experiment to me!

  4. I’ve been using Prosper for a few years, because I thought Lending Club was only available to accredited investors. Am I wrong? (I know I could look it up, but thought I’d ask to benefit other readers.)

    1. Thanks Jema! Great question.

      So Lending Club and Prosper are essentially the same thing. Both offer non-accredited investors options to buy into loans (following a specific set of criteria on their FAQs page). So, regardless of whether you are accredited or not, but sites are worth looking into. I’ve though about looking into Prosper more myself, but I’ve found myself distracted with other ventures instead. Thanks for asking the question!

  5. Hi, are all or any of these only for US citizens, ie, needing US address or social security number.

    I’ve looked into online bank accounts, investing online etc and wasted time when I got to the sign up page… being asked for social security number.

    Many nomads are not from the US, so it would be good to know before wasting time trying to sign up.

    Good list.

    1. Hi Rob. Yes, sadly these are US-focused investment tools. Most investing is country-specific as there is a lot of regulation around finances/money and the prevention of money laundering. I’ll send you an email to see where you’re based out of and perhaps we can find some tools that will work for you.

  6. I have and use a Vanguard account originally established through a 401K at work. They have good, low-fee funds and ETFs that trade for free. Once your account gets to a certain size (I don’t know the level) stock trades are only $2 and you get a bunch of free ones the start of every year. I rarely use up my free trades.

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