You’ve worked hard and you’ve finally put enough money aside that you feel like you can start investing. But if you don’t know the first thing about investing, it can be hard to figure out where to start. And, especially if you’re new to investing, you want something easy to help you get started without too much stress. So where do you invest your money?
First, we’ll assume that you’ve already paid off any high-interest credit cards. If not, that will be a great place to start because those interest fees are adding up and costing you more money in the long-run.
Next, if you don’t already have an emergency fund set up with at least 3 to 6 months of bills put aside, that may be something you want to consider for financial security. You should consider a money market account for your emergency funds so that you can earn interest while still having your money easily accessible should you need it.
Now that you’re feeling secure and your big debts are all paid off, it’s time to take a look at some other ways to invest your money.
If you want to be able to access your funds within the next few years, consider short-term investments such as CDs, money market accounts, short-term bonds, and I-bonds. (I-bonds are inflation protected savings bonds.) These investments will keep your money close, earn interest and help you avoid any penalties and fees for early withdrawal. Plus, they are easy to open and maintain.
If you don’t want to touch your funds for ten years or more, a Vanguard target-date fund will give you a mix of stocks and bonds that adjust over time and minimize your risk factors. A Roth IRA is another easy long-term investment that will help you to start saving for retirement, but you are limited to deposits of $5500 per year.
But the best option of all is to diversify your investments with some short-term and long-term options. Here are a couple of scenarios that may make sense:
- Open a Roth IRA with $5,500
- Open an investing account with $8,000
- Open a brokerage account with $8,000
- Put the remaining $8,500 in a 1-year CD and continue adding funds until you have enough to start investing in real estate
- Open a money market account for your emergency fund with $8,000
- Open an investing account with $13,000
- Put $3,500 into a diversified low cost bond fund
- Open a Roth IRA with $5,500
These options will allow your money to grow over time while still allowing you to access your funds if you need them. They will also allow you to start saving for your retirement so that you can build a comfortable financial future for yourself.
Each scenario includes both low and high risk investments, providing you security and opportunities to grow your investments quickly, while being easy to manage.
Whatever options you decide to use, do your homework and know what you’re getting into; it’s the best way to manage your investments successfully with very little maintenance.