Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.
The best investments extend beyond the traditional financial investment types, encompassing a realm of unexpected possibilities.
While seeking profitable returns from the financial markets is an important goal for your money, a truly holistic perspective acknowledges that the most rewarding investments aren’t always monetary.
A recent online survey of financially savvy 40- to 65-year-olds solicited responses about the best investment. Let’s explore the top responses to the question.
1. An Engagement Ring for My Wife
Bill said that the best investment he has ever made was in an engagement ring for his then girlfriend, now wife.
And, choosing the right spouse seems to be the most or one of the most popular answers to the question of best investments.
Marrying the right person is often considered one of life’s most significant and rewarding investments due to the profound impact it can have on overall well-being and personal growth.
While not financial in nature, this investment offers a multitude of emotional, psychological, and social dividends that can contribute to a fulfilling and enriched life.
The partnership built on shared values, mutual support, and genuine connection can provide a sense of emotional security, companionship, and encouragement that propels both individuals to thrive personally and professionally.
The right life partner can offer a supportive foundation, encouraging each other to achieve goals, weather life’s challenges, and grow as individuals.
The benefits of a harmonious marriage
Just as traditional investments compound over time, the benefits of a harmonious marriage can accumulate, fostering happiness, personal development, and a sense of belonging that far exceed the realm of monetary gains.
Cristina describes why her spouse has been her most important investment:
“Together we built a beautiful life and raised a smart, accomplished daughter. I cannot imagine how my life could have turned out any better — picking someone who loves you at your best and worst and cheers you on in all you do has been a tremendous blessing.
“We started out broke and poor [and are now securely retired] … Throughout it all — he remains the best investment I ever made.”
Lori spent $49.95 on eHarmony and says it was her best investment ever. She said, “I met my boyfriend and we have been together for 13 years. We often look at each other and think how lucky we are.”
Divorces and second marriages can pay off too
Divorce is expensive, but quite a few people believe it to be a good investment in their well-being.
Education, another thoughtful and popular answer, is often touted as one of the best investments one can make due to its profound and lasting impact on personal growth, career opportunities, and overall well-being.
Whether formal or informal, continuous learning contributes to personal growth and empowers you to lead a more enriched and meaningful life.
Judy wrote, “My best investment was getting my bachelor’s degree when I was 45. It almost doubled my income.”
Rita agreed, “I went back to school in my 40s post-divorce to achieve a long-standing dream. Not only do I feel proud of my accomplishment, I’ve nearly doubled my income.”
Education for a job that pays a pension
Cheryl didn’t necessarily love her job, but she kept investing her time into it and she is glad she did.
She wrote, “My best investment was staying with my company. I was able to retire with a nice pension, 401(k), and health benefits. There were times I thought about leaving, but I am now glad I did not.”
It is not just one’s own education that is considered an investment. Investing in your children’s learning is important too.
Angela said, “Having financially self-sufficient children is a huge weight off my mind.”
And, Kelly agreed, “That was the #1 financial goal. My kids got a good education and now they do not need my money!!!!”
While education can involve financial costs, the long-term benefits often outweigh the initial investment.
Scholarships, grants, and online learning options can also make education more accessible.
If you can forgo the costs of private education, you’ll have a lot more money to invest for retirement.
The few bucks and time it takes to read great books
Education doesn’t always mean school. The right book can shift your perspective and give you the know-how to do better.
Tommy credits reading “The Simple Path to Wealth” as his best investment.
He said, “It led me to learning about financial independence which led me to pivoting away from what I thought was my dream job to what really is my dream job because I felt comfortable enough giving up my pension.”
Here are lists of great books related to financial planning and living a fulfilled life:
- Books about financial planning, retirement and aging
- More books about financial planning, retirement and aging
- 5 new books with surprising ideas for living your best life
When you invest in your health, you’re equipping yourself with the physical and mental resilience needed to tackle challenges, pursue opportunities, and enjoy life to the fullest.
A healthy body and mind enable you to engage in activities you love, maintain relationships, and achieve your personal and professional goals.
And, health care costs can be substantial, and by investing in preventive measures such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management, you can potentially save money on medical expenses in the long run.
Moreover, optimal health can lead to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism, positively impacting your career and financial stability.
A longer, healthier life
Furthermore, a healthy lifestyle can contribute to a longer and more active life, allowing you to enjoy your retirement years and pursue interests that bring you joy.
The benefits of investing in your health extend to your loved ones as well, as your vitality and well-being positively influence those around you.
While financial investments can yield monetary returns, none are as precious or impactful as the dividends of good health.
By committing to a lifestyle that prioritizes your well-being, you’re setting the stage for a fulfilling and vibrant life that encompasses all dimensions of happiness and success.
Learning to surf when young
A lot of our best investments do happen when we are young. That is certainly true for financial investments, but it is also true for finding healthy hobbies.
Mark wrote that his best investment included, “Learning to surf at age 14. It totally keeps me healthy now many years later.”
Finding healthy activities that you love and can continue throughout your life is indeed a great investment.
4. A Simple and Low-Cost Asset Allocation
Brad suggested that after his wife and his “metal insulated Ozark Trails cups that he got on clearance at Walmart,” his best investment was in “a portfolio of total-market index-based low-cost stock and bond funds allocated according to my need, ability, and willingness to take risks.”
Opting for the best low-cost asset allocation strategy is often considered a wise investment approach due to its potential to provide a balanced combination of risk management, consistent returns, and cost-effectiveness.
This strategy involves diversifying your investments across various asset classes while keeping costs minimal, typically achieved through passive investment vehicles like index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
A strong investment choice
Here’s why the best low-cost asset allocation can be a strong investment choice:
- Diversification: By spreading your investments across different asset classes (such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and commodities), you reduce the impact of poor performance in any single asset on your overall portfolio. Diversification helps manage risk and enhances your chances of achieving steady, long-term returns.
- Cost Efficiency: Low-cost investment vehicles, like index funds and ETFs, have lower management fees compared to actively managed funds. This means a larger portion of your investment capital is working for you, instead of being eaten up by fees over time.
- Consistency: Low-cost asset allocation strategies tend to perform consistently well over the long term, as they are not subject to the fluctuations and underperformance that can occur with individual stocks or high-cost actively managed funds. This reliability can contribute to the growth of your investments.
- Accessibility: These low-cost investment options are widely available and accessible to both individual investors and institutional investors. This means you can easily implement a diversified portfolio without needing a large amount of capital.
- Reduced Emotional Bias: Since low-cost asset allocation strategies are based on a systematic approach rather than trying to time the market or pick individual winners, they can help mitigate emotional biases that often lead to poor investment decisions.
- Simplicity: Low-cost asset allocation strategies are straightforward to understand and implement, making them suitable for both novice and experienced investors.
5. Home and Real Estate
A home is often seen as a dual-purpose investment, offering both emotional and financial benefits that make it uniquely valuable.
On an emotional level, a home provides a sense of security, belonging, and comfort. It’s a place where you can create lasting memories, express your personal style, and build a haven that reflects your identity.
From a financial perspective, real estate has historically proven to appreciate in value over the long term.
While there are market fluctuations, owning property can potentially yield significant returns on your initial investment when you decide to sell.
Additionally, owning a home can have tax advantages, such as deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes, which can positively impact your financial situation.
Furthermore, owning a home provides a form of forced savings. As you make mortgage payments, you’re building equity and accumulating ownership in a valuable asset.
Stacy wrote that her best investment was, “Buying the worst house in the best neighborhood.”
Investing in a home has paid off significantly for Melinda. She wrote, “We bought in Southern California in 1993 for $265,000. Zillow now tells me to put a 2 in front of our purchase price.”
6. Living Below Your Means
Living below your means is considered a strategic financial investment with numerous benefits that can have a significant positive impact on your present and future financial well-being.
By spending less than you earn, you create a surplus that can be directed toward savings, investments, and debt reduction.
Over time, this financial cushion provides a sense of security and the freedom to pursue opportunities without being constrained by financial obligations.
7. A Sampling of Specific Financial Investments
Some people responded to the informal survey of best investments with their specific stock picks. A few mentioned the S&P 500, but here are some specifically mentioned stock picks:
- Apple (One respondent claims to be up 860% on this stock. Which, is only true if they actually sell it and realize the gains.)
- Crypto: I think this was largely a joke, except for the very few who actually sold when things had skyrocketed.
- Home Depot
- AbbVie (Another respondent says they are up 392% on this pharmaceutical company. Again, you are only up if you have actually sold. Not that anyone should sell. But losses and gains are only on paper unless you have taken action.)
- Nvidia (This artificial intelligence stock is up nearly 200% this year.)
- Berkshire Hathaway
However, it is really important to remember that the people who listed the stocks have already profited. It is a best investment from their past. It does not mean that any of these companies will continue to grow as they have before.
(Always remember that past performance is not an indicator of future performance.)
9. Financial Planning
Building and maintaining your own financial plan is a highly valuable investment in your present and future financial well-being.
A well-structured financial plan provides a clear roadmap for your financial journey. It helps you set specific goals, whether it’s buying a home, saving for retirement, or funding your children’s education, and outlines the steps needed to achieve them.
Dianne wrote, “I was raised in poverty. I invested in my education and did retirement plan early in life. Now that I am getting ready to retire, I can’t stress retirement planning enough. I am so grateful I started early.”
Tony is thankful he, “Maxed out my 401(k) through my entire working career.”
Financial planning takes an investment of time, but it is proven to be an effective way to build both wealth and confidence. Build and maintain your financial plan with NewRetirement.