5 Investments Seniors Are Avoiding

Passive income with limited risk is the ideal outcome of any investment, but hitting the jackpot is a longshot on even the “safest” of opportunities. Considering risk is especially vital for those nearing retirement age or without ordinary income, since taking a gamble on a fixed budget can be catastrophic, especially for those with little capital and a limited understanding of the financial industry.

The following investments are arguably some of the most insecure ventures on the market and shrewd seniors are steering clear, dreading the toxic combination of financial exposure and meager return on investment.

We recommend you do the same.

Collectibles

Finding a way to merge your hobby with a business venture can be exciting, especially for those looking to make a quick buck on their preservation efforts or prune their collection of Black Diamond Disney VHS Tapes. Unfortunately, movie memorabilia, like Beanie Babies, baseball cards, stamps, and rare cutlery, has little inherent value, meaning that the seller will have to track down the right buyer to pay the subjective value they’ve ascribed to the product.

That may seem like a simple task, considering international auction sites like eBay, but vendors often have to cater to a bid below their anticipated value and each sale is subject to a 10% user’s fee. When all is said and done, you’ll likely take a loss on an item you are personally attached to, making hanging on to your keepsake the smarter emotional investment in the long run.

Digital Currency

The oft-buzzed about phenomenon known as Bitcoin, which came into prevalence in 2009, introduced the idea of digital currency into the mainstream, tempting even the most casual investor into the esoteric world of data mining and virtual black markets.

Not only is the acquisition of this legal tender exceedingly complex, but its value is also extremely volatile, rising and falling based on ever-shifting government regulations and the whims of media conception.*

It’s also a highly unregulated commercial enterprise. In late 2018, Canadian cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga lost the ability to access $145 million in bitcoin, stating that the death of their CEO left staff without passwords for encrypted accounts.** This monumental snafu stranded their clientele with little to no recourse for retrieving personal funds, creating another cautionary tale for an industry that preys on adventure seekers and caters to grey-area legality.

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Penny Stocks

As prone to fluctuation as the fledgling digital currency industry, penny stocks are ownership claims of small or potential failing business that cost under $5. Despite the low cost, micro-cap stocks are hard to price (due to relative obscurity) and even harder to sell, which allows less-than-reputable brokerage firms to inflate their value.

This practice is commonly known as a “pump and dump” scheme, which exploits the ignorance of novice traders by selling them on a substandard stock, adding value to the shares held by the brokerage. When the house sells its shares at the newly inflated price, the value plummets and investors lose their capital.***

Though the initial risk may seem small, considering the infinitesimal cost per share, fraudulent promoters will persuade investors to bet the farm, potentially leaving shareholders destitute while they reap the rewards. It’s a sad story, but one you can easily avoid by consulting with a trusted brokerage before investing and studying up on industry practice.

Restaurants

The idealized vision of owning a restaurant marries the inspirational and emotionally fulfilling nature of eating with the vanity of celebrity. Dining out is hip and as American cuisine shifts to a more soulful and localized point of view, chefs and restaurateurs are becoming as venerated as actors and rock stars.

However, beneath the allure of culinary innovation lies the tremendous cost and risk involved in opening an eatery. Not only are you in jeopardy of not turning a profit, but your initial investment in design and renovation, as well as property costs and maintenance, is likely to keep you in the red in perpetuity.

Individual investments also don’t have the opportunity to scale up, since expansion would require additional renovation or relocation, putting you at risk of losing your dedicated following. Sadly, the lowest-risk lies in chain restaurant investment, which would abandon your unique vision in favor of brand recognition and scalability.

Timeshares

Don’t be fooled by that old chestnut that claims investing in a timeshare will save you money on a lifetime of vacations and diversify your portfolio. Ownership of a timeshare (be it a house or condo) is divided between several parties, which restricts part-time proprietors from consistent access and the ability to renovate the property.

It also subjects shareholders to ever-mounting maintenance fees, which are often life-long and rarely increase the property’s value or make portions easier to sell off.**** Those lucky enough to get rid of their timeshare often do so at a considerable loss, making this one of the few so-called investments that offers no profit, no equity, and no peace of mind.

* Shane, Daniel, (February, 2019). A crypto exchange may have lost $145 million after its CEO suddenly died. CNN. Retrieved October, 2019
** Alexander, Doug, (June, 2019). Quadriga’s Crypto Ended Up in CEO’s Accounts on Rival Exchanges. Bloomberg. Retrieved October, 2019
*** Elmerraji, Jonas (April, 2017). How to Buy Penny Stocks (for Beginners). TheStreet. Retrieved October, 2019
**** Mohrmann, Eric (October, 2017). Are Timeshares a Bad Investment?. USA Today. Retrieved October, 2019