The short version
- There are definitely ways that investors can double their money overnight, but with the exception of a select few, all involve significant effort and risk.
- Some of the more popular options for rapid wealth-building – like margin trading and initial coin offerings – also present the most risk, and you can lose even more than you invested.
- In the end, investing is like cooking; you’ll need time, patience, and the right ingredients — but it’s really not that hard and you’ll be glad you didn’t skip a step.
3 safest ways to double your money in 24 hours
The following three methods are low-risk and time-tested ways to multiply your savings. And while they may not make you rich overnight, they'll increase your income with little risk of seeing red.
Max out your 401(k) match
Maxing out your 401(k) match is the easiest way to double your money in 24 hours.
So maybe you don’t get to spend that money for a while without incurring steep IRS penalties. Also, technically, it’s only really doubling your money if your employer offers a 1:1 match (some offer partial, like 50%).
But even still, maximizing your 401(k) match is the most clear-cut, foolproof, risk-free way to multiply your money.
Better yet, the multiplying doesn’t end after 24 hours; nor is it limited to just doubling your money. Let's say you earn $100,000 at age 35 and your employer offers a 1:1 match of up to 3.5%. So by year’s end, you sock away $3,500 and your employer tosses in another $3,500.
Let’s now assume a reasonable rate of return of 7% APY for 30 years compounded quarterly. At that rate, your employer’s $3,500 contribution at age 35 will grow to $28,067.14 by age 65.
Ergo, it would be mathematically accurate to say that maxing out your 401(k) match doubles your money today and octuples it by retirement.
But what if you’re looking to double your money overnight — and have immediate access to the funds without IRS penalty?
Flip some valuables
One of the more lucrative — if erratic — ways to turn a quick buck is to seek out valuable items at Goodwill, garage sales, etc. and flip them online for profit.
My friend Sally, for example, has an especially keen eye for designer clothes and accessories. Take her to any consignment store in a nice neighborhood, and like a fashion-seeking Terminator she can quickly scan the room for “targets” like Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. She buys them, renews them, and flips them on eBay for an average 450% ROI.
Flipping valuables can easily double (or triple) your money in 24 hours and can even be pretty fun. But before diving in, there are several requirements and ethical considerations to mull over:
- Time — You’ll need to spend time at Goodwill, garage sales, and auctions to treasure hunt and find items to flip. Storing, retouching, and relisting the item for sale can take up time, as well.
- Talent — Like Sally, you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. Whether it’s Rolexes, rare baseball cards, or my personal favorite, model cars, you’ll need to know which items are undervalued, how to spot a fake, and otherwise understand the market intimately.
- An upfront investment — In the world of flipping, you need to spend money to make money — which also introduces an element of risk if your items don’t sell.
- Ethical considerations — Some say that purchasing goods from consignment and Goodwill with the expressed intent to flip them is unethical. I disagree. Sally doesn’t just refurbish the item adding value and new life, she introduces it to a larger market (garage sale > eBay), which is simple arbitrage. Scalping is raising values through artificial scarcity, which isn’t what she’s doing.
More: Rolex investment guide: everything you need to know
Start a side hustle
Launching a profitable side hustle is almost never easy or turnkey. For many businesses, you’ll want to be clear on your goals/motives before you start and may want to form an LLC or an S Corp.
That being said, there are a handful of side hustles that you can launch and make profitable within 24 hours. From ridesharing to teaching English as a second language (ESL) online, you can start multiplying your money pretty quickly with the right investment of time and effort.
More: 9 ways to make extra money from home
2 riskier ways to double your money in 24 hours
Does your personal risk tolerance tell you that you can stomach a little extra spice? If so, these riskier methods of doubling your money overnight might be a fit.
But just like with cumin and chipotle, we recommend you sprinkle in just the tiniest bit to start, lest you ruin the whole meal. And don't say we didn't warn you if you get burned due to a lack of moderation.
Ah, day trading.
It’s such a simple concept: buying and selling within 24 hours.
And yet, over the years this “simple” investing strategy has given us The Wolf of Wall Street and endless memes on r/wallstreetbets:
Most of the top-rated memes on r/wallstreetbets are self-deprecating for a reason: Day trading can (and often does) lead to devastating losses. So while you can technically double your money in 24 hours, you’re more likely to halve it first.
At Investor Junkie, we’ll never recommend day trading. Even though day trading is by most accounts less risky than margin trading or short selling, it’s still enormously risky to try to time the markets.
- It’s a huge time commitment — Effectively timing the markets isn’t a part-time job, and even full-timers with decades of experience get it wrong. Individual assets are just so unpredictable that even the most sophisticated quant funds struggle to get it right.
- There are greater capital requirements involved — Day trading is so risky that “pattern day traders” who execute four or more day trades within five days must have $25,000 in reserve capital to comply with SEC regulations. In other words, the SEC won’t even let you day trade unless you have used Toyota Camry money to lose.
- You'll be taxed higher — Day trades aren’t just difficult to track and report to the IRS, they’re also significantly more expensive. Long term gains from assets held more than a year are taxed at 15%, whereas short term gains are taxed at 28%.
- Between 70% and 95% of day traders lose money — Studies and estimates vary, but experts agree that the significant majority of day traders end up losing money in the long run. You might see users boast of enormous short term gains on r/wallstreetbets, but those are akin to winning the jackpot in Vegas: exceedingly rare and certainly not everyone’s experience.
More: Buying and selling stocks: 2022 guide
An option is a contract that lets you buy or sell 100 shares of an asset at a specific date and price in the future.
- Call options give you the right to buy 100 shares, whereas
- Put options give you the right to sell 100 shares
The future purchase or sale price that you lock in is called the strike price.
As a quick example, let’s say shares of Tesla are trading at $800 and you think they’ll fall to $600. You purchase call options with a strike price of $800, meaning you’re locking in the right to sell 100 shares of TSLA at $800 in a month.
Shares fall to $600 as predicted, so you buy 100 shares at $600, exercise your options contract, and sell them at the strike price of $800. Your option cost $50, so you netted $80,000 – $60,000 – $50 = $19,950.
Options are less risky than futures because futures require you to buy or sell, whereas options merely give you the, well, option. Plus, options never require you to own the underlying asset. You can trade options all day without actually buying a single share of TSLA.
That being said, options are still complex and risky investments because unlike stocks, option values can — and will — lose 100% of their value when the contracts expire. And even if you choose options as your method of doubling your money overnight, your brokerage may not even let you trade them.
That’s right: Options are so risky that many online brokerages require a formal application process to trade them.
4 riskiest ways to double your money in 24 hours
Even though options can (and will) lose 100% of their value overnight, they’re still not as risky as the assets in our final category.
So let’s dive into the four riskiest ways to double your money in 24 hours!
Margin trading is investing with money you borrowed from your broker. Needless to say, it’s about a 11/10 on the risk scale since you risk losing your money and your broker’s money.
But before I rip into margin trading from a risk perspective, here’s how it works, why traders do it, and how it could double your money in 24 hours.
- You see an amazing short-term investing opportunity that you simply can’t pass up — but you don’t have the cash on-hand to take advantage.
- You compare margin rates, file some paperwork with your chosen broker, and open a margin account with a $25,000 balance at 10% APY.
- Since FINRA requires you to use at least 50% of your own cash to purchase on margin, you invest $50,000 in the opportunity using half your money, half your broker’s money.
- Your investment doubles to $100k, so you pay back your broker $25k plus interest. That leaves you with nearly $50k profit, or double what you would’ve made investing just $25k of your own money.
Sounds nice, doesn't it?
But while margin trading can double your potential gains, it can more than double your potential losses.
Say you invested the $50k and it drops to $30k. You still owe your broker $25k plus interest, meaning your personal investment of $25k is essentially wiped out.
So even though the investment only fell by 40%, you lost 100% of your investment.
With margin trading, you can easily lose even more than you started with, and those losses accrue interest.
In its simplest form, Forex or FX trading involves converting your USD into a foreign currency like the euro or the yuan and then swapping it back when the exchange rate rises, netting a profit. Sounds simple enough, and FX trading can definitely double your money overnight. The challenge, however, is timing the market.
For starters, forexes are even less predictable than stocks. At least stocks give investors plenty of data to plug into their predictive analyses: things like financial reports, earnings calls, patent filings, and more.
But exchange rates are subject to countless unseen forces, from backroom politics to inclement weather. As tricky as day trading is, it can be virtually impossible to predict the forex market.
Those unseen forces are also why the forex market is so volatile, making potential losses both sudden and steep. So while swapping your USD into Ghanaian cedi could theoretically double your money overnight, there’s just no way of knowing that with any degree of confidence.
Short selling is when you borrow shares of a stock, immediately sell them high, and then buy them back lower when the lender comes calling.
Let’s say you think Alphabet Inc Class A (GOOGL) is overvalued at $100. So you borrow 100 shares from your broker and immediately sell them at $100, earning $10,000. You’re now “short” 100 shares.
A month later, the share price has dropped to $80. Your broker wants their shares back, so you buy 100 shares at $80 and hand them over. By “shorting” GOOGL you’ve earned $2,000, minus taxes plus commissions and interest owed to your broker for borrowing the shares.
Shorting is a high-risk investing strategy because the upside is significantly smaller than the downside. Even if you’re right and the stock goes down, you still have to pay fees, taxes, and commissions to close your short position. If you’re wrong and the stock goes up, you have no choice but to buy at whatever price it reached to replace your borrowed shares.
That’s why put options are widely considered the “safe” form of shorting. Both can double your money overnight, but at least with put options, your maximum loss is limited to the cost of the contract.
Initial coin offerings (ICOs)
Last but not least, perhaps the most interesting way to try to double your money overnight is to invest in the right initial coin offering, or ICO.
ICOs are the IPOs of the crypto world. They’re hype-driven events where the leadership team of a new cryptocurrency finally releases their crypto into the open market for buying, selling, and trading. And just like with IPOs, crypto startups launch ICOs to raise money and drum up attention.
But what makes ICOs uniquely attractive to speculative investors is that they’re not priced like IPO shares. To boost float and circulation, ICO tokens are typically priced at fractions of a penny, meaning even the most illiquid investor can scoop up a ton.
Then, when the hype drives the price of each token from $0.0000168 to $2.15 like it did with NXT, early adopters can cash out for staggering gains.
The trick is — you guessed it — betting on the right horse. A 2018 Bloomberg study found that 80% of all ICOs launched in 2017 were scams costing investors $1.34 billion. Out of the rest, 86% are worth less than when they started.
Those aren’t great odds for doubling your money. And when you consider that the odds of winning in a casino are closer to 30%, your money is better off on the tables of Vegas than pooled into an ICO.
The takeaway: slow and steady wins the race
With the exception of 401(k) matching, every method of doubling your money overnight involves significant effort and/or unacceptable risk.
That’s why the secret ingredient to a healthy portfolio is time and patience. Forget short selling and sketchy ICOs; compound interest and dollar-cost averaging are your friends.
In the end, successful investing is like cooking. Sure, you can cook a chicken quickly with a blowtorch. But if you just leave it in the oven for 60 minutes and occasionally check on it, you’re much more likely to end up with a satisfying meal — without burning your house down in the process.
How to seriously double your money:
Best short-term investment strategies for 2022
How to retire at 50: Save your way to an early retirement
8 best inflation-proof investments for 2022
How to talk to your teens about investing