REDUCED TO A HEADLINEdouble your money!>
But there are good arguments for accumulating wealth even more quickly. College and health-care expenses are rising faster than the average household's income, for example, while increases in longevity mean that you'll probably need a bigger nest egg to fund your retirement. That's why SmartMoney has assembled a guide to help you step on the gas pedal, doubling your wealth in just five years. And as aggressive as our premise may sound, the steps we've zeroed in on are reassuringly realistic.
To double in value in five years, your investments need to earn an average of 14.9% annually. The challenge: hitting that target without taking on the kind of high risks that lead to sleepless nights. To reach our mark, we focused on potentially high-performing sectors whose returns rarely march in lockstep. Under the practice known as Modern Portfolio Theory, investing in a range of such "non-correlated" sectors increases a portfolio's expected return and lowers its overall risk. Within each sector, we picked exchange-traded funds, whose low fee structures let you capture more of any gains.
), which owns 20 top biotech firms.
First Trust AMEX Biotechnology
), focusing on companies that provide access to clean, drinkable water.
PowerShares Water Resources
), offering exposure to a sector many investors think is undervalued.
SPDR S&P Semiconductor
), which cashes in on small-cap success stories.
iShares Russell 2000 Growth
), a valuable play, since emerging-world economies will grow faster than the U.S. economy over the next decade.
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets
In most markets, the days of double-digit annual increases in home prices are over. That's why your best avenue for doubling your money in real estate involves giving yourself a new title: landlord.
Here's an example of how the math works: Say you buy a two-family home for $850,000, putting down 20%, or $170,000. (The big down payment boosts your odds of having positive cash flow.) Your annual expenses, including mortgage, taxes and maintenance, will run about 10% of the amount borrowed. But you can write off every penny, along with capital depreciation, and then get back in the black with the rent you collect. Based on national averages for rental income, your total operating profit on this hypothetical house after five years would be $55,116, or about 6% a year. Sell the building at that point, for $965,000, and you've doubled your money. And that's assuming the property's value rises 14% very conservative, considering the housing market's average annual return of 6.1% since 1975. Crunch some real estate figures yourself here.
Starting a Business
To update an old saying, it takes more money to make more money. To help you generate extra cash for investing and saving, we focused on part-time work from home that can earn a decent income an option that gets more realistic every year, thanks to the Web. Granted, it's getting harder to make money in auction sales, due in part to increased fees and falling sell-through rates at eBay and elsewhere. But it's now easier to monetize your brilliant thoughts via a Web site or blog. Advertisers have finally embraced blogs as a way to target niche markets. Programs like Google Adsense can place relevant ads on your site in return for a cut of the proceeds. You can write about your hobbies, scribble reviews just about anything works if you write with authority. But some topics pay more than others. You can get a rough sense of the relative value of your topic using the "View Bids" tool atSearchmarketing.Yahoo.com
Of course, you don't need your own website to pick up extra money. To pick just one example, the growing population of retirees and young singles (i.e., folks with free time) is creating more jobs for one-on-one tutors. Instructors working solo can earn anywhere from $15 to $95 an hour teaching anything from academic subjects to sailing to jazz guitar. For tips on starting or maintaining a small business, click here
Savings & Spending
To save even more money, take aim at your life's biggest expenditures your house and your wheels. Start in your driveway, where buying used instead of new can pay off big. Consider the Acura TL. If you buy it new at around $42,000, your five-year ownership costs everything from fuel and maintenance to that old devil, depreciation will amount to a little under $58,000, according to the car-advice site Edmunds.com. Buy a three-year-old used model, and your costs will be about $12,000 less. Duplicate that strategy in a two-car family, and you've freed up $24,000.
Next, take a trimmer to the monthly mortgage payment. The spreads in interest rates between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are fairly narrow right now. But rates have been sliding, and anyone who recently locked in a mortgage stands a good chance of finding a better deal even more so if they hold an adjustable loan that has reset to a higher rate. On a $400,000 mortgage, the difference between a loan at 7.5% and one at today's prevailing rates of 6.25% would add up to more than $20,000 in payments over five years.
One final thought: Healthy living is good for your bank balance. A recent study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that executives who exercise regularly scored better on a test of leadership skills than those whose butts never leave their Aeron chairs. Though the study didn't examine earnings, it's not hard to see how these marks could result in bigger bonuses and faster promotions. On another hot-button health topic, smoking, a separate survey found that smokers earn 24% less than non-smokers. But there's one vice you won't have to give up. According to a recent study in the Journal of Labor Research, social drinkers earn up to 14% more than teetotalers. Cheers!
For more ways to cut costs on daily spending decisions, click here.
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