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My Thoughts on Money Making Opportunities

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I'm convinced that despite some obvious problems with the economy there are more ways to make a living than have ever existed before. Of course many money making opportunities are presented as "easy" or "instant," and very few (if any) of them actually meet those criteria. But we are tempted nonetheless...

What's more, when we chase after supposedly "easy" money we often encounter two very negative consequences. First, we might act against our own true values and interests. That can mean doing something we hate just to make a buck or even doing something that is unethical. The second, and very common, negative consequence of going for the easy cash, is that we waste a lot of time to get nowhere. That's time which could have been spent on developing a stream of income in some way that is more likely to succeed.

Easy money isn't always easy then, but if you aren't looking for a way to snap your fingers and get rich there are plenty of ways to do the work necessary for financial success. The various opportunities fall into several different categories. Based on my own experience (and a bit of common sense) I have something to say about each of these...

Jobs

Although jobs are not my favorite way to make money, they can serve that purpose. If I could be the star of The Daily Show and have Jon Stewart's $25 million annual salary, I would be happy to be an employee. But most of my dozens of jobs have been a little closer minimum wage (not too close, fortunately). On the other hand, they did pay the bills and allow me to save the money needed for future investments and businesses.

Don't settle for a lifetime of jobs you hate, but on the other hand, don't underestimate the power of a job or two to move you towards your goals. Unless and until you have the perfect job (and if you never do that's okay too), see them all as temporary vehicles that will take you someplace more interesting. It's all about how you use them. If your current job just pays the bills and nothing more, start looking for a better option. But if you can learn to live below your means, you can use a job to save for starting a business, or to start investing in real estate. Also, consider whether there is a job that you might truly love. It happens I hear, and if the money isn't great you can always start a small business on the side.

Investing

You can get rich by investing in stocks. But it takes a long time to make much money with passive investments. Warren Buffet, who is perhaps the best stock picker in the world, has averaged double digit returns during his career. That's great, but it will likely take years to achieve his level of knowledge and skill, and even then many years more to build your fortune if you are starting out with a few thousand dollars.

You have to be honest with yourself about whether you'll enjoy this kind of investing enough to stick to a plan. And will you sleep at night when the market drops 20% in a week? The daily ups and downs are too stressful for some people. On the other hand, if you have a decent income from another source and you invest in decent mutual funds regularly (without the need to live on that money now) you'll probably have a nice chunk of money someday.

There are other forms of investing. You can loan money to businesses, for example, or buy and sell art. If you don't want to be active in a business you might invest as a silent partner. The list of ways to invest your money is long, and includes our next category...

Real Estate

Real estate is as much a business as an investment. The inefficiency of the market and the creative ways in which one can invest make for some great money making opportunities. You can start with nothing, for example, making offers and then selling your position in accepted offers to investors with money to properly invest and profit with a property. I once talked to a man who sold several contracts every month for about $5,000 each. All he ever risked was a few hundred dollars for the earnest money deposit.

I personally love to talk about and write about real estate investing because it can be so creative, and I love numbers. But I don't really enjoy investing in it. I've done so in several ways over the years, and the condo we bought and sold last year was the closest I've come to having fun with the process, but it was still stressful. It just isn't one of my favorite ways to make money.

It is difficult to sustain the enthusiasm and work required when you really don't want to be doing something. That's probably why my real estate investments have been infrequent. On the other hand there are those who love the business of real estate, whether that means being a landlord, subdividing land, or flipping fixer uppers. You'll have to determine for yourself if you can get excited enough about the "game" to work through the many problems that you'll encounter with every real estate deal you do.

Businesses (offline)

Business is where you generally can get the biggest returns in the shortest amount of time, unless you want to count lottery tickets (not a good plan). Can you get rich quick? Maybe. But a major commitment is usually necessary to make a business succeed. I've seen people work 60 hours weekly for many years just to build their income up to $50,000 annually. Usually these are people who could make that from more relaxing job.

On the other hand, you might build the kind of business that can be expanded and managed for you, or sold for millions. It might be worth years of hard work up front to eventually build a self-sustaining large income stream. If you go this route see my page on choosing a business. Who knows? There might be a business that you will truly enjoy. I like ours, which brings us to the last of these money making opportunities.

Online Businesses

Although there are many ways to make money online, there are a few that allow you to make money while living or traveling wherever you wish. That's what we were after when my wife and I started our first website. Our particular model is to build websites on subjects that we know something about and preferably enjoy. We then use these informational sites to attract visitors who either click on ads (we get a percentage of the revenue generated) or on links to products we get a commission on. We also use our websites to sell our books.

I hated computers when we started, and don't much care for the technical part of the business now. The income is also unpredictable; it has dropped more than 80% for us in the last three years. But I get to spend most of my time doing what I enjoy: writing articles and ebooks and pages just like I am doing right now. We are still able to leave the business alone while traveling, doing nothing more than checking email a few times each week, and the revenue keeps coming in day and night, even if at a slower rate now. When times were good we left for a month and the business kept growing all the time we were gone.

That is one example of the many ways you can make money online. Some allow you more freedom to move than others (avoid businesses that require you to ship products if you want to travel much). Some are more creative while others are more about doing the same things over and over. My latest venture is my freelance writing service, which has the disadvantage of the revenue stopping when I stop working (no automated income stream). But then I love to write, and I appreciate the easy ten-second commute in the morning.



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