When it comes to investing, there is no such thing as a 100% safe option. Risk and reward are two sides of the same coin, and while there is a chance of winning, there is also a chance of losing. However, some investment categories are significantly safer than others. Certificates of Deposit (CDs), Money Market Accounts (MMAs), Municipal Bonds, and Inflation-Protected Treasury Securities (TIPS) are among the safest types of investments. For risk-averse investors, a stable return with low risk may be more attractive than a higher return with higher risk.
For example, you might prefer an investment that pays only 2% a year rather than one that returns 20%. This is because if the 2% return is guaranteed, for example through the US Treasury, but the path to a 20% return involves the risk of losing 40%, then that stable 2% could be a better value over time. High-yield savings accounts are very liquid investments, meaning it's easy to access your money without penalty if you need it quickly. This makes them an ideal option for an emergency fund or savings. Rates have been rising gradually since the beginning of this year, with major high-yield savings accounts paying 2% or more for the first time in a few years.
However, rates can change in response to current market conditions. Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are almost identical to savings accounts. Most are insured by the FDIC, so there's no risk involved. With a CD, you accept a time horizon when you invest, generally from one month to 10 years. While some CDs allow you to withdraw money early without consequences, you generally have to pay a penalty if you access your cash before the CD's term ends. Money Market Accounts (MMAs) operate on similar principles to CDs or savings accounts.
They generally offer better rates than savings accounts, but they also offer more liquidity and may even allow you to write checks or use a debit card with the account, allowing for greater flexibility when used in conjunction with a savings account. Bonds are another option for those looking for higher returns with slightly higher risk. When you buy promissory notes, bills and bonds from the Treasury, you are essentially giving a loan to the government and the government pays interest on that loan at regular intervals. If you hold it for the entire period, you will also recover the nominal value of the bond. For those looking for even higher returns with higher risk, stocks may be an option. Throughout its history, the S&P 500 has returned approximately 10% per year.
And while there have been years in which stocks fell by 30% or even 40%, the markets always recovered in the following years. The S&P 500 is one of the most popular options for index investments and includes almost all of the top-tier stocks. The Russell 1000 is another option and is comprised of the 1000 most valuable American companies, giving you twice as much diversification. When it comes to investing, nothing is 100% safe. However, by understanding your risk tolerance and researching different investment options available to you, you can make informed decisions about where to put your money.