With tax season in full swing, you may be in store for a gift from the federal government in the form of a refund check. While you won't know the full amount - or whether you will even receive a refund - for certain, you will likely start thinking about what to do with that money.
Depending on how much you currently have saved, that check may provide you with a total of $5,000. This is assuming that you have eliminated your high-interest debts, have been regularly putting money into a retirement account and have at least six months of emergency savings set aside.
With $5,000, it turns out your options are numerous, and there are many routes to explore in the interest of strategically investing that money.
Where you should start
Deciding what to do with $5,000 can seem like a daunting task because there are so many options: Do you invest in the stock market? Put it in a savings account?
The answer may involve a bit of both. However, you will first want to decide if you're looking to invest $5,000 in the short or long term, because the options will vary depending on your choice.
Options for the short term
If you decide to invest your $5,000 for the short term, you will want to focus on savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money markets.
Savings accounts represent the best place to put your money, especially if you need it on a moment's notice. In addition, your money should have the opportunity to grow, and it will if you put it in a savings account.
These tools are ideal for the short term for a variety of reasons. They can be used to help you save for a family vacation in the summer, or if you're opening your first savings account, you can start to verse yourself in good financial management skills. At Landmark Bank, customers can make up to three withdrawals per month and earn interest on all balances.
However, savings accounts do not currently have the highest of interest rates, meaning your money will grow, just slowly. As such, you may want to consider CDs or a personal money market account.
CDs are an excellent investment option because they carry higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. You can set up a CD that will last a certain number of months, ranging anywhere from six to 60. This means you can only access the money you invest once the limit is up.
Landmark currently offers a regular CD and the Dream Saver, which is a flexible, high-interest CD. You can use either to help set money aside for a new car, home improvements or anything else you will need.
Money market accounts have slightly lower interest rates than CDs, but this money can be withdrawn at any time. Think of money markets in this way: The more you save, the more you will earn.
Rates on these types of accounts are higher because money markets are essentially you lending the bank money, and it's because of this distinction that they carry higher rates.
But you will always have access to money, and so these represent an ideal solution to invest money without being tied to a long-term, high-yield savings option.
Options for the long term
If you you would rather save for the long term, you can afford to take some more calculated risks. Actively managed mutual funds are when you put your money back into the stock market. You can either pick the stocks yourself or have a professional manage your mutual funds.
Index funds are another option, with the main distinction being that you can build a diverse portfolio and more or less forget about it. According to U.S. News & World Report, index funds can be thought of as the healthiest option available for investment.
Finally, there are exchange traded funds, which operate similarly to mutual funds. However, when you buy one share of an ETF, you are technically buying a small piece of many different investments that make up that fund.
Keep in mind that ETFs require yearly rebalancing.
If you're ready to invest your first $5,000, there are multiple ways to do so.
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