35 Ways to Earn Up to 10% on Your Money

Yields are beginning to lift off. We found great deals for every level of risk.

illustration of lady in balloon gondola with planes
(Image credit: Illustration by Nick Lu)

It is hard to believe that just a year ago, the U.S. economy was virtually in free fall, a victim of the pitiless coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment rates soared, yields on Treasuries plunged to record lows, and fear gripped financial markets. Today the environment is nearly the reverse: Economic growth is gaining steam, helped along by trillions of dollars of federal government stimulus; inflation is picking up; yields on Treasuries are rising; and investors are embracing risk again.

Although the economic story is brightening, the same cannot be said for investors seeking income and yield. The S&P 500 index of large-company stocks continues to establish record highs but yields only 1.4%, one of the lowest rates in market history. Interest rates on investment-grade bonds such as Treasuries and high-grade corporate debt are still remarkably low by historical standards and vulnerable to rising rates (bond prices and interest rates move in opposite directions). For example, iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond, an exchange-traded fund that holds a basket of long-term Treasuries, has lost 12.5% for the year to date, which is six times its yield. Matt Pallai, head of Harbor Funds’ multi-asset solutions, says, “What we see now across the world is that income is one of the most scarce resources.”

With that challenge in mind, we set about searching for income opportunities in eight different asset classes, including bonds, stocks, real estate investment trusts, and master limited partnerships. We can’t do anything about the interest rates available today in categories including muni­cipal and investment-grade bonds, which generally seem to offer low yield with considerable risk, but we believe we have turned up a number of interesting investment opportunities. This guide is intended to help you navigate today’s challenging income landscape.

Before you reach for some attractive yields, it pays to keep a few considerations in mind. You should have a financial plan in place, combined with a strong sense of appropriate long-term port­folio allocations. Everyone’s situation is unique, but generally you should ensure that you have enough cash or cash equivalents on hand to fund six months or a year of living expenses before you invest in high-risk/high-return assets such as stocks and high-yield bonds. Prices, yields and other data are through April 9.

Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance