For many of us investors, a key goal is reaching financial independence. That's generally considered as having been reached when your investments can cover your costs without you ever having to work again for the rest of your life. While that's a great goal, it's also one that can take decades to reach. Smart investing in great companies with decent potential staying power can give you a great path toward achieving that goal.

With that in mind, we asked three of our contributors to name an investment that they thought would provide a great opportunity to help others reach their own financial independence goals. They picked Coca-Cola (KO 0.18%), Target (TGT 0.95%), and the Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP 0.35%). Read on to find out why, and decide for yourself whether one or more of their selections deserves a spot in your quest to reach financial independence.

People at an Independence Day party.

Image source: Getty Images.

Things go better with Coke

Eric Volkman (Coca-Cola): In rocky times like these, it's good to reach for companies that not only know how to make a buck during down periods but like to share their wealth too. A prime example of this is a solid business I've been bullish on for years, even before the coronavirus pandemic upended all our lives -- Coca-Cola.

Let's start with the fizz that has always been a big part of the stock's appeal, its dividend. Coke is a Dividend King, one of those rare S&P 500 index component stocks that has raised its payout annually for a minimum of 50 years in a row. That alone speaks to the company's ability to generate piles of cash massive enough to keep those distributions on the up (for perspective, the company spent over $7.5 billion in dividend payouts throughout 2021).

How does Coca-Cola pull off this trick, year after year and decade after decade? Well, its products are generally fairly cheap to manufacture -- its namesake and signature beverage is almost entirely sugar and water, after all -- and require little or no innovation. The Coke or Minute Maid orange juice (long a part of the company's portfolio) you drank yesterday with lunch is basically the same product you were quaffing 15 years ago. 

Although Coca-Cola certainly has to devote some capital to new product development and existing drink modification, it's not dependent on this to drive sales -- we're not talking smartphones here. This is a huge reason why the company is as profitable as it has been and surely will continue to be. Its margins these days top 25%, which is a high number for almost any sort of business, particularly one in the food industry that has been in existence as long as it has.

Coca-Cola's drinks are also comfort items in times of distress and theoretically non-essential goods that many consumers nevertheless find essential. Who among even the most health-conscious of us hasn't gotten a hankering for a cold bottle of Coke or Sprite now and again? This makes the company's stock a fine defensive play during times of economic weakness. Coca-Cola shouldn't have much of a problem adding to its top line or keeping those profit margins nice and wide.

On top of that, there's the ever-present and ever-growing dividend. At the moment, its yield is 2.8%, which handily tops not only the average of S&P 500 component companies but is also well above a great many peer blue chip stocks. So, for recession-resistant fundamentals combined with a high and reliably growing dividend, Coca-Cola is a great investment for those looking to establish some financial independence this Independence Day.

Target's investments in fulfillment are paying off

Parkev Tatevosian (Target): Seeking financial independence is an excellent goal to shoot for. One investment that can help you along your path is Target. The brick-and-mortar retailer faces headwinds in the near term since consumers are changing their shopping habits as the economic reopening gains momentum. 

Nevertheless, Target has effectively updated operations to offer customers more choices in how they shop and receive their orders. Shoppers at Target can pick up their order inside the store, have it delivered to their cars inside a Target parking lot, or have it delivered to their homes in as little as an hour. These fulfillment options are a big hit with customers. 

Fortunately for investors, they are also more profitable than the traditional free shipping to customers' homes. The rise in these services could help explain how Target earned a record $14.10 earnings per share in its most recently completed fiscal year. That was a 63.2% increase from the year before. Over the last decade, Target has increased its earnings per share at a compounded annual rate of 12.7%.

TGT PE Ratio Chart.

TGT P/E Ratio data by YCharts.

Buying low and selling high is a mantra that can help investors reach financial independence. In that regard, Target is selling at a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.78, near the lowest in the previous five years. For those reasons, Target is one of my favorite stocks for long-term investors seeking financial freedom.

A potentially better way to buy the market

Chuck Saletta (Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF): Over long periods of time, the simple and low-cost act of index investing tends to outperform Wall Street's best and brightest. It works so well that no less an investor than Warren Buffet himself recommends it as a key strategy for most people

If there's a downside to index investing, it's that most index funds are market-capitalization-weighted. In other words, the largest companies in the index take up the largest percentage of that index. It's how typical S&P 500 index funds are built, and it leads to a mere 10 companies making up around 30% of the value of the index. That's all well and good if those companies perform well, but if any of them struggle, it will have a disproportionately large effect on the index as a whole.

That's where the Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF comes to play. It invests in the same 500 companies as a typical S&P 500 index fund, but it has a roughly equal dollar investment in every one of them. Indeed, instead of around 30%, the top 10 holdings of this fund make up around 2.7%  -- a much more balanced profile. As a result, should any one of those top 10 holdings struggle, investors in the Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF would barely notice it.

Put it all together, and the Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF gives you most of the low-cost benefits of investing in index funds while also boosting at least one key measure of your portfolio's diversification. That makes it a strong tool to consider as part of your investment strategy on your path to financial independence.

Get started now

Every great financial goal gets easier with a solid foundation in place. When you buy Coca-Cola, Target, or the Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF, you are getting a stake in some of the most time-tested businesses around. That makes them wonderful candidates for your consideration in your quest for financial independence. Still, reaching financial independence is a journey that often takes decades, and the sooner you get started, the better your chances of reaching that goal. So get started now, and make today the day you take the first step toward a potentially much brighter future.