7 Everyday Things That Are Surprisingly Awesome Investments
Strapped for cash? You could be sitting on a small fortune that's hidden right under your nose. Find out what everyday things are surprisingly awesome investments, so you can start building your ordinary empire today. (See also: 4 Ways "Boring" Investments Make Life Exciting)
1. Comic Books
It's not just first-issue Supermans, Spider-Mans, and Batmans that command big bucks. Other comic books and graphic novels — even contemporary titles, like first-printing Walking Dead #1, which is listed for $15,000 on online retailer MyComicShop.com — can help you bring home some serious bacon.
"While everyone's heard stories of people cleaning out an attic to find comic books they sold at a hefty profit, it's not just the older books that are valuable," explains Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of New York-based Metropolis Collectibles, the world's largest vintage comic book dealership, and ComicConnect, the largest online vintage comic auction house. "Even comic books from the last 20 years are becoming more collectible. Some have jumped from just a few dollars each five years ago to $50 to $100 today. Smart investors are finding that they can make money off of this trend, but only if they treat it like they would any serious investment."
Vincent and his partner, Stephen Fishler, hold five Guinness World Records for the most expensive comics and related collectibles ever sold.
"Once you jump into the comic book market, remember to protect your investment," he adds. Store books in a cool, dry place, such as a safe deposit box. Finally, use professional appraisers and consider purchasing insurance for your collection."
A quick search of your comic's name and issue on ComicConnect can help you gauge your comic's value.
2. LEGO Sets
Anybody who watches Pawn Stars, Antiques Roadshow, and the like knows that some toys — particularly mid-century and earlier — are worth a bundle. But little did we know that one of the most popular toys on the planet today is accruing incredible value right under our noses.
Late last year, it was revealed that Lego sets have appreciated in value better than numerous investments, most notably gold. Yes, gold.
According to the U.K.-based Telegraph, "Lego sets kept in pristine condition have increased in value 12% each year since the turn of the Millennium, with second-hand prices rising for specific sets as soon as they go out of production. Modern sets are performing even more strongly, with those released last year already selling on eBay for 36% more than their original price."
In contrast, "Those who invested in gold received a 9.6% annual gain over the past decade and a half, while those who went with a savings account generated 2.8%, according to investment company Hargreaves Lansdown."
So which Lego sets are the most coveted? Star Wars, of course (at least currently), with the Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon bringing in the top value at more than $2,000, while the Death Star II and Imperial Star Destroyer are close behind at well above $1,000.
3. Birkin Bags
Just a couple weeks after Lego was reported to be a surprisingly good investment, news came that Hermés' popular Birkin bags also held up well against traditional investments — outpacing both the S&P 500 and the price of gold in the last 35 years.
Scarcity is the leading factor in the bags' huge hikes — they're not advertised and there's still a six-year wait list — though you will have to put out a decent chunk of change for the initial investment (they start at about $12,000). If you've got that kind of capital for a handbag, however, you could walk away a winner in a few years. According to Time magazine, the annual return on a Birkin was 14.2%, compared to the S&P average of 8.7% a year and gold's 1.5%.
If you're one of the lucky ducks who owns a building that Banksy has tagged, or you were in the right place at the right time when he sold nearly a quarter-million dollars worth of art for $60 a pop in Central Park a few years ago, you're sitting pretty — but he's not the only artist whose work is worth much more than canvas it's on. In fact, you might have a sizable payday hanging on your walls right now.
Personally, I invest in art — mostly local artists where I live. I don't buy based on their success (most of the artists whose work I purchase are unknown), but rather I make my decision on what piques my interest and catches my eye. I then follow their careers to stay educated about my investments.
And it's a wise habit to practice, says Mallory Greene, community manager at Wealthsimple.
"If you don't think buying art is a good way to make money, there are some pretty fancy numbers that argue otherwise," she explains. "Consider the case of the artist Jacob Kassay. Kassay is known for making beautiful photo-mirrors by painting canvases with reflective metallic paint. The result is affecting, producing an eerie, crude reflection of the viewer. One of his paintings sold for about $4,000 at a gallery in New York City. That sounds expensive until you consider that nine months later the painting sold at auction for $150,000. That, if you're keeping score, is a return of 3,650%."
Here's a sobering fact: You could be drinking your retirement fund away as you read this.
While you probably won't be able to sail off into the sunset by selling off that case of Barefoot Merlot, you may have better luck focusing your investment on wines that come from specific regions, particularly Bordeaux, Champagne, Tuscany, Burgundy, and the Rhone.
Forbes magazine reports, "While the four latter regions are gaining in popularity, the Bordeaux region continues to serve as the gold standard for wine investors. According to wine trading platform Cavex, two cases of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2005 — an iconic wine from the Bordeaux region of France — recently traded for £4,100 GBP (about $6,566 USD). Meanwhile, four cases of the Burgundy wine Ponsot Morey St. Denis Alouettes 2009 went for a more modest £275 GBP (about $440 USD)."
Greene provides more context.
"The London International Vintners Exchange (a.k.a. the Liv-ex) indices have dramatically outperformed the S&P 500 and the FTSE over the last decade and a half," she says. "And how often have you enjoyed an ETF with a braised leg of lamb? The main reason to invest in wine is because it's fun."
6. Internet Domains
Last fall, ex-Google employee Sammy Ved did the nearly impossible: He purchased Google.com during a momentary lapse in domain ownership by Google itself. He only owned it for about a minute before Google recognized its snafu and reversed the transaction. Google offered to pay Ved a reward of $6,006.13 (which spells out Google numerically), which it then doubled when Ved said he'd donate the money to charity. How nice.
Alas, there's no provision that says you have to be so altruistic if you're ever in a similar position, which isn't all that uncommon. In fact, the truth is you can purchase any domain that's available, hold onto it, and hope that somebody with deep pockets wants and needs it someday.
Digital marketing and social media strategist Brad Hines says that registering words like, a newly coined word or expression, as a .com domain name is an in-plain-sight investment that people overlook all the time.
"Domain names have an enormous aftermarket," he explains. "A brief glance at a website like DnJournal shows that average sales of domain names start at $3,000. And 100% of these domain names start as initial registrations at any domain name registrar — GoDaddy, 1&1, NameCheap, etc. — where they tend to register for $10 to $15."
"Registering domain names has low barriers to entry, so it's competitive, yes, but reading things like trade journals and niche blogs can help keep you ahead of words that are not in public fashion yet," Hines continues. "I've done this for 15 years."
7. Sports Memorabilia
Remember when you were growing up and you found a rookie in your pack of baseball cards? Well, you should've held on to it, as it could've made your 20-somethings a little less ramen-reliant. Moreover, you'd really be living large if you had it signed by somebody like Mickey Mantle, Cal Ripken Jr., or Albert Pujols — because authentic autographed memorabilia is where it's at!
According to the Upper Deck blog, authentic autographed memorabilia, like a Wilson basketball featuring Kevin Durant's signature, or bat signed by Ken Griffey Jr., can command top dollar at auction.
If you're new to the memorabilia investing game — or want to get started, like, stat! — consider these rules shared by CNBC.
What ordinary things do you own that are worth a pretty penny? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
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