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How to invest $1 million
Play it safe or take some risk — but don’t do it alone.
How you build your investment portfolio ultimately depends on your goals, needs and risk tolerance. If you’re a conservative investor, you may put more money into bonds than you would stocks. If you’re a young investor, you may choose riskier investments like stocks and real estate.
This is how a $1 million investment portfolio might look for someone nearing retirement:
CDs, bonds and government securities
50% to 60%
Stocks, ETFs and mutual funds
40% to 50%
Real estate and alternative investments
0 to 10%
Before you invest $1 million
Before you invest $1 million, consider the following:
Give to charity. Make giving part of your financial plan by donating a small percentage of your wealth to the charities and organizations you care about.
Save for your kids’ college fund. If you plan on helping your kids pay for college, set up 529 college savings plans.
Build an emergency fund. You’ll need three to six months of expenses in a high-yield savings account, so you don’t have to turn to your investments in an emergency.
Create a vacation fund. Pay for your next adventure in cash by keeping a vacation fund in a high-yield savings account.
Invest with a financial adviser
With $1 million in hand, you may opt to work with a financial adviser versus doing it alone.
Years of expertise. Financial advisers have specialized knowledge covering financial planning, estate planning, tax-efficient withdrawal strategies and more.
Person-to-person support. Unlike robo-advisors, a financial adviser is there to answer complicated questions, meet with you face-to-face and give you advice based on your unique financial situation.
Some work on commission. Unless you seek out a fee-only fiduciary adviser, some may offer biased suggestions and try to sell you products you don’t need.
Takes time to find the right one. You’ll need to research and interview several financial advisers until you find an unbiased one that doesn’t work on commission.
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Broaden your market exposure and lower your risk by investing in low-cost index funds.
Passively managed. Index funds track the movement of a stock index, such as the S&P 500, so you don’t have to actively manage it.
Lower fees. Because you’re not actively buying and selling, less money goes to cover fees and expenses.
Typically outperform actively managed funds. Historically, low-cost index funds outperform actively managed funds over the long run.
Investments are unclear. Index funds frequently change, making it hard to pinpoint exactly what shares you own.
Produces average results. An index-fund mimics the market, so its performance will never exceed it.
It follows the market. Index funds play to your advantage when the market is improving, but they work against you when the market goes down.
Invest with angel investing
Help a budding startup become the next big thing by offering your money and expertise.
Attractive returns. If a startup is successful, you could earn huge capital gains in the future.
Crowdfunding site options. Many equity crowdfunding sites have thorough vetting processes and let you diversify by investing in multiple startups.
May have partial control over the business. If you’ve run successful companies in the past, you may be able to influence some of the startup’s decisions.
Extremely risky. As the saying goes, over half of new businesses fail, so you could easily lose your investment if the startup goes under.
You don’t get repaid. The money you give to a startup is an investment, not a loan. They’re under no obligation to pay you back if the company isn’t successful.
Requires thorough vetting. Increase your chances of success by thoroughly vetting startups and only choosing those that have a proven track record for growth.
Invest in high-quality stocks
Invest in high-quality stocks by purchasing shares of stable companies that have higher profit margins and lower debt.
Stability. High-quality stocks are less volatile than stocks from small and mid-sized companies.
Passive income. Invest in high-quality stocks and you could earn passive income as the company pays dividends to shareholders.
Liquidity. The stock market is open daily, so you can quickly sell shares when you’re ready.
Slower growth. High-quality stocks are known for their stability, but the downside is that they’re not likely to grow as fast as other stocks.
High stock prices. A single share of high-quality stock could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Must know how to evaluate stocks. You’ll need to research each company’s financial statements to determine which ones are considered stable.
Invest in real estate crowdfunding platform
The digital age has made it easier than ever to invest in real estate through crowdfunding platforms without having to deal with the headaches of property management.
Comprehensive investment options. You get access to offices, retail spaces, hotels and multifamily units across the country when you invest through a crowdfunding platform.
Diversification. Real estate isn’t directly correlated to the stock market, so it’s a great way to diversify your overall portfolio while still earning high returns.
Passive income. Receive a steady cash flow as tenants make rental payments and the property appreciates in value.
Long-term investment. A tangible asset like real estate can’t be readily converted to cash, so most crowdfunded investments have targeted holding periods.
Carries risk. Real estate investments are backed by a single asset, which means you could lose money if something happens to it.
Cash flow depends on the investment. You may see instant returns when you invest in an apartment complex, but you may not see returns for years if you invest in a building renovation.
There are an endless amount of ways you can invest $1 million. Before you invest a dime, take time to consider your goals and risk tolerance. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, compare investment accounts until you find one that suits your needs.
Frequently asked questions
The amount of interest you’d earn depends on the investment type. If you invest the money in a diversified stock portfolio and earned 8% interest, you would have $80,000 a year.
If you keep it in multiple savings accounts earning 2% interest, you’d earn $20,000 a year.
If you can live on earned interest only, it may be enough. For example, if you find an investment that offers a 4% return and can comfortably live on $40,000 a year, then you could potentially never outlive your money.
But, if you live in a high-cost living area, such as San Francisco or New York, $1 million may not last forever.
Unless it aligns with your financial plan, you shouldn’t keep $1 million in the bank. Your money will never outpace inflation this way and its value will degrade over time.
However, if you choose to keep $1 million in the bank there are a couple things to watch out for:
You’ll need to deposit it into accounts at four different banks because the FDIC only insures accounts up to $250,000.
If each bank pulls a hard credit check when you open an account, it may affect your credit score.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and investments. She has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. Cassidy enjoys educating people about financial services, exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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