If you’ve always wanted to make investments, but think you have enough money to make a substantial investment, think again. Sometimes the smallest investments can produce large payouts if you’re willing to be patient. 

1. Buy a duplex and rent one side

Normally when you buy a real estate property, you’d have to choose between renting it out or living in the unit. When you’re still paying off the mortgage, renting your property will increase your expenses because you’ll need to rent another house. If you live in a city like downtown Houston, paying rent alongside a mortgage is no small expense.

With a duplex, you get the best of both worlds. You’ll own the house you live in, you’ll have one mortgage payment, and you’ll generate income from renting the other side. 

Since real estate appreciates over time, you’ll build equity and the value of your home will gradually increase. As time goes on you can raise the rent to keep up with inflation. Tenants have come to expect regular, reasonable rent raises. 

Once the mortgage is paid off, all the rent you collect will be nearly pure profit. You’ll still have to pay for repairs, maintenance, and other property management related costs, but without a mortgage, your expenses will be minimal.

2. A $500 CD

You don’t need much money to invest in a CD. Many banks and financial institutions have CD options for a $500 minimum deposit. Ideally, you’d want to invest a minimum of $1,000, but if all you can invest is $500, then start with that amount. 

With a 1.85% APY, a $500 CD deposit with a 24-month term will yield $18.67. The same CD with a $1,000 deposit will yield $37.34. It’s not much, but it’s basically free money, although you’ll need to pay taxes on your profits. 

If you keep rolling your profits into a new CD year after year, you’ll eventually have a significant amount of money to invest. Keep rolling the profits into bigger CDs and you’ll generate a substantial retirement savings account.

Use the CD calculator from Nerd Wallet to find out how much interest you can earn with various terms, amounts, and APY rates.

3. Resell vintage items online

Thrifting is something you probably wouldn’t consider an investment, but it can be with the right strategy. Many people support themselves by buying valuable vintage items at a low price and selling them for fair market value online.

Visiting multiple thrift stores requires time, energy, and money, so you need to specialize in a specific item, so you don’t waste time. For example, if you decide to specialize in clothing or stuffed animals, try not to also specialize in antique lamps, cutlery, and sporting equipment. 

Choose items of value you can easily spot and forget about the items that require tedium to identify. For instance, books take forever to sift through because you can only see the spine and have to pull out each book to view the cover and condition. Valuable vintage clothing brands are easier to recognize as you look through the racks. 

If you can quickly spot items with potential, you’ll make good money in less time. You might even find something extra special like Vince Lombardi’s sweater.

If you’re interested in sourcing vintage clothing, check out Shopify’s guide to selling vintage clothing online.

4. Silver and gold

You don’t need much money to invest in silver. As of January 2020, silver coins and bars can be purchased at spot for around $0.60 per gram and gold for just under $52 per gram.

The cheapest way to invest is to buy one 1oz silver coin or bar at a time. This is perfect if you don’t have much free cash. 

The good thing about silver and gold is that it tends to appreciate in value, and in hard times it can be traded for goods and services.

You may want to consider collecting some copper coins as well. Copper coins aren’t all that valuable, but that’s the point. You wouldn’t want to trade a whole silver coin for a dozen eggs. Copper coins will come in handy for smaller trades.

Almost any small investment has potential for a big payoff

Just about every small investment has the potential to provide a big payoff if you play your cards right. The key to a successful small investment is to be patient and choose your investments wisely.