Check out investments that are slightly less risky than bitcoin

The allure of cryptocurrency is the same as the draw for betting it all on black — although many investment experts say that it might pay off big in the long run, there’s no big reward without the big risk it holds.

If the idea of betting your entire nest egg on lofty promises piques the gambler’s spirit in your blood, there’s a number of less crazy investment ideas that aren’t exactly in the vanilla category.

Read on to learn about some of the fastest growing industries to invest in this year.

1. Startups

Even the bluest of blue-chip stocks had to start out somewhere. If the story of Steve Jobs’ garage-based computer workspace inspires you, there are plenty of startups all across the globe — and one of them could be the next big thing.

Bonus: The biggest successes usually remember the ones who believed in them when nobody else would. If they make their mint, the biggest returns often go to the earliest investors.

2. Crowdfunding

Thanks to the likes of IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, great ideas can now participate in an income-driven popularity contest — if people want to help get one off the ground, there are options to be rewarded handsomely. If you found a company you truly believe in, put your money where your mouth is — and you have the potential to reap the benefits in some stock-options.

See: How New Industries Like Cannabis and VR Are Changing the Economy 

RELATED: Never make these 5 haunting financial mishaps:

5 financial choices that will haunt your money for life
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5 financial choices that will haunt your money for life

Sitting on the markets sideline

While the stock market is soaring to new highs, half of Americans are being left out of the gains. Bankrate found that only 46% of adults have money invested and only 18% of the youngest adults are involved in the market.

While many people fear losing money, the true concern should lie in missing out a potential fortune. Over the long-term, a well-balanced portfolio will always come out with a net gain. With compound interest at stake, investing as early as possible is the smartest move. 

If you're not already in the stock market, now is the time to start. If you have a longer investment period in mind, it could make sense to take on more risk.

Not having a rainy day fund

There are so many things that can go wrong in life and someone who is smart with their finances will be prepared for anything. Expensive emergencies like a car breaking down or a medical emergency can happen whether you are ready for it or not.

Experts recommend your emergency savings be able to support you for three to six months. That's a conservative estimate for how long it takes to find a new job after being fired, for instance.

Having enough money in an easily accessible emergency fund prevents you from taking out loans in desperation or from going into debt.

Waiting to pay off debt

After investments and emergency savings, you may feel your paycheck dwindling. That feeling will only get worse if you don't pay off outstanding debts. 

From student loans to mortgage payments, debts are pesky. But the thorn will only get sharper over time if you ignore them.

A team of researchers writing in the Harvard Business Review this year suggested paying off the largest debts with the highest interest rates first. Credit card interest rates are notoriously high, so paying those off before going after more manageable debt, like student loans, may be a smart move.

If you're stressed out by debt, these strategies may help.

Not asking for a pay raise

Bankrate found that only 48% of working Americans got a bump in salary over the last year, and often because they aren't asking for it. 

Chickening out of a salary negotiation, especially at the beginning of your career, could cost you $1 million in lifetime earnings.

By understanding your worth and the value you provide at work, you can earn more every year and maybe even retire early. If your company won't give you that raise, it may be time to search for a new job where you are payed in accordance to your value.

Spending too much money

Overspending is a problem many people fall victim to, but you shouldn't spend all the money you make, according to Eric Roberge, a certified financial planner and founder of Beyond Your Hammock

"Spending right at your means, even if you don't go over and spend more than you earn, is like trying to take a race car up to 200 miles an hour with a warped wheel," he wrote in an article on Business Insider.

"If anything goes wrong — you hit a bump, you swerve, whatever — you're done. There's no second option when you're going full throttle in your financial life. There's no safety net."

Leaving room in your budget to save some of your earnings will set you up so you're not scrambling for money when you need it most.

In other words, learn to live below your means.


3. Small/Micro-Cap Stocks

If you dig beneath the surface in the stock market and wade past the comfy world of Google, Apple and the like, you’ll stumble on the Micro-Cap market. Capped off at a fraction of the price of a blue-chip, you can snag a bunch of shares for an up-and-coming company — one that might have the potential to explode in growth.

4. Biotech Stocks

The only thing that changes faster than the economy is the medical frontier. Thanks to advancements in science, advancements in medicine could also mean huge advancements in your bottom line. These small-cap BioTech firms typically start out with “one big idea,” which if it fails the gauntlet of clinical trials — which it most likely will — won’t make a cent. But in the off-chance it develops an effective treatment, you’re looking at a payday that’s sure to spike.

5. Cannabis Stocks

Thanks to the increasing wave of cannabis legalization across the nation, if you’re interested in an investment opportunity, don’t overlook cannabis stocks.

Due to the cognitive dissonance between regulatory laws — state laws are becoming more lax, whereas marijuana remains Schedule I classified on a federal level — it’s kept prices cheap in terms of stock due to potential risks with supply. If you buy in now — and if the government loosens its grip — your wallet could thank you for it.

Up Next: 8 Online Investments That Make Portfolio Diversification Easier

Disclaimer: This article is produced for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. Investing comes with risk to loss of principal. Please always conduct your own research and consider your investment decisions carefully.

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