Investment is a wide and varied landscape, though you might not know it if you watch TV or listen to the radio. Investment is any behavior you take part in, in which you try to buy low and sell high. But the investments you hear about through the media are almost always investment products. The distinction is important to recognize. True investment involves you (The investor) and an asset (something you buy that you hope to sell for more later). Investment products include the same two players (investor, asset), but include a third party. This third party is always trying to skim a little off the top, usually by offering to perform a service that you could easily perform yourself.

There is nothing wrong with investment products. But once you learn that there are more investment options than just the ones that involve third parties, you realize that there are many more options out there. You can probably think of a lot of examples right now. To understand the full range of investment possibilities a little better, it’s important to know the common characteristics that all investments share:

– Cost: the money you spend to initiate an investment.

– Risk: the likelihood that an investment won’t work out, and you’ll lose some or all of your money.

– Time: the duration of time that it is likely to take for you to recover your investment cost, along with dividends. This may range from decades, as in the case of the investor with a conservative diversified portfolio, or minutes/days, as in the case of the spread betting investor.

– Dividends: the money made, over and above the initial cost.

Most new investors are sold investment products. To make these products more attractive, companies that make money on investment package them in the lowest risk level possible. That’s why most of the investments you hear about take many years to mature. And while there is no true way to take time out of the equation, alternative models allow the investor to take a more active hand in the control of the investment, thereby shortening the time required to make real money.

That’s the case with spread betting. Spread betting users create accounts with trusted brokerage sources like ETX Capital, where they can trade on indices, commodities, Forex, and sometimes more. Investments can be completed in days or even minutes! Unlike investment products marketed to the general public, which don’t require any daily management from the investor, spread betting requires the investor to actively handle his or her risk. In exchange, you’ll get the opportunity to make large dividends in little time. While there is greater risk than in longer duration models, this risk is mediated by the skill of the user.

Stocks and Spread Betting may be two extremes when it comes to investment models adopted by everyday investors. But they are by no means the only options. Real estate, collectibles, lending markets, and countless other sources provide investment tailored to the experience and personality of any investor. Don’t limit yourself to the investment types advertised on TV. Do your own digging, and you’ll learn an investment method at which you excel.