They say, Home is where the heart is. We say, home is where the money is.

Investing in the stock market is the classic way to invest. You buy a stock, then wait for it to make you money. You don't have to get your hands dirty. But going classic is not always the best way to go, especially when you have the potential to make even more by trying another investment strategy.

Two words: Real Estate. We know what you're thinking. Maybe you won't be like the cast of Million Dollar Listing, who scours Los Angeles for the most dazzling homes and receives commissions that could buy several bungalows in the Galapagos. But you could use real estate to your advantage with a little research and a little heavy-lifting. It may just be worth it in the end.

So you want to become a landlord? If you decide to go on this path, you'll have to buy the property, pay the mortgage, and the tax and maintenance costs. You'll be responsible for renting out rooms to tenants and vetting them so they won't drive you crazy knocking on your door at 3am. But after all is said and done, you get the mortgage out of the way, and break even, you'll get the chance to raise your rent and collect positive cash flow.

What's that you said about cash flow? Not just positive, but it could actually be tax-free, depending on if you're classified as an active investor, a real estate professional, and of course, depending on your income. To find out more on if you're qualified, check this out.

The other thing about investing in property is that it forces you to make a commitment. Afraid of the C-word? Here's why you shouldn't be. According to an article on Entrepreneur.com, "Rental real estate is a forced retirement plan. Americans are terrible savers. We lack the self-discipline to put a monthly deposit into our IRA, SEP or 401k as small-business owners. However, buying a rental property is a significant commitment that you are required to commit to and maintain. You will always be grateful in the long-run when you don't give up on it and build future cash flow and wealth."

If you're not interested in being a landlord, consider an REIT. It stands for Real Estate Investment Trust, and it means you can invest in a portfolio of properties by purchasing stock. You'll get paid dividends which will act as consistent income. For more on the different types of REITs, and to see what's right for you, click here.

The real estate market may also be a more stable option than the stock market, depending on the season. Investopedia cites the example of the "Flash Crash" of May 2010 as a moment when the stock market was highly volatile, therefore lauding the "more stable pricing" of real estate.

Investor Peter Koulizos agrees:

"When you factor in the return and risk associated with buying property and shares, property wins hands down, shares have [marginally] higher capital growth, but the difference in risk is huge. The risk is measured in variation in returns and capital growth (or loss) on shares can range from +40% in a year to -40% in a week! You don't get that sort of variation in property, hence it is considered a safer investment."

Investing in property is a great option that can lead to impressive profit. Anyone can throw money at the stock market, but some of us should go back to the nest.

Here's how to get started.

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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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