Financially speaking you've made all the right moves: You contribute as much as you can to a retirement plan, own a diversified portfolio of investments and your insurance premiums are paid up. So you find yourself with a little cash on hand - say about $2,500 - but you're sick of stocks, bored by bonds, and tired of Treasuries. Why not put some zip into your investments, then? Consider these offbeat, but profitable, places to stash your cash.
ALL THAT GLITTERS
If posterity is on your mind, set your sights on fine art, jewelry, photography and ethnic collectibles - even musical instruments. How to get started? No matter what type of collecting excites you, experts emphasize that a desire to invest in any art form should spring more from passion, than from a lust for profits.
Take jewelry, for instance. "No one should buy solely with the idea that a particular piece is going to be valuable later on," says David McFadden, curator of Decorative Arts at New York City's Cooper-Hewitt Museum. "Like any work of art, it lives with you, so it should be purchased as much from your heart as from your pocketbook."
That said, there are several ways to be a shrewd jewelry collector. Start by educating yourself about what specifically you want to buy. in the case of jewelry, that means reading books and haunting antique stores, flea markets, auction houses and shops. Quality jewelry, according to McFadden, is defined by the value of the underlying materials - gold and precious gems - and the skill of the artisan in using even nonprecious materials in their work. "Look for designers who have an innovative vision," McFadden advises.
A welcome surprise: It doesn't cost a fortune to own beautiful jewelry. According to New York City certified financial planner Madeleine I. Noveck, terrific bargains can be had - for as little as $100 - on rhinestones and faux jewels from the '30s and '40s. "These pieces are made with base metals," Noveck says of the Art-Deco pins, earrings, and necklaces, "but they are gorgeously designed" - and often by the same craftspeople who worked for tony Fifth Avenue retailers such as Van Cleef & Arpels. if you have $2,000 or more to spend, "you can do beautifully," says Noveck.
Once you've completed your self-education, as described above, first try your luck at flea markets. (Some of the best: the Pasadena Rose Bowl, held the second Sunday of every month; New York's weekly shows held each Saturday and Sunday on 6th Avenue and 23rd...