Recently, trying to invest and save for the future has felt like a never-ending cycle of highs and lows for many people. Those investing for longer-term goals, such as retirement, may be able to afford to ride out the market swings. But what if you need money sooner?
You might need to purchase a car or a home, take a vacation in 2024 or just want to save for emergencies. Many credit unions and financial institutions offer attractive savings deals on low-risk options. These could help you save money in the short term, and they also make a great holiday gift for a loved one. Plus, your money, and any earned interest, will be available when you need it. According to CNBC, here are five short-term, relatively risk-free investment opportunities for year-end 2023:
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
A CD is one of the easiest ways to grow your savings in a short period of time. With a CD, you select the amount you deposit, including any required minimum balance, and the period of time for the CD—typically six months up to five years. Interest rates are now around 6% APY (annual percentage yield) for CDs and may be higher if you choose a longer period. Your interest rate will be locked in as long as you don’t withdraw the money before the term date of the CD. Some credit unions have multiple savings specials that could include offering one interest rate for any existing account money you move to a CD, and a higher rate for new money that you add to your account.
Money Market accounts
A money market account offers more flexibility than a CD, giving you a higher interest rate and the ability to withdraw funds without penalty if you need access to your money. With rates now averaging between 4.40% and 5.46% APY, money market accounts can be a good way to increase your monthly savings rate. Many also offer similar features to checking accounts, and the option of withdrawing funds through debit or ATM machines. Check with your credit union to see what rates might be available in your area.
High-yield savings accounts
With a high-yield savings account, you earn money at a faster rate due to compound interest. This means you earn interest on your interest. With savings accounts averaging around 0.42% APY nationally, and high-yield accounts over 5.0%, you could significantly boost your savings with a high-yield account. However, note that these may come with minimum balance requirements, monthly fees, and limits on the number of monthly withdrawals.
Government bonds are issued and backed by the federal government which makes them a low-risk savings vehicle with reliable income. While the interest rates are lower than a money market or CD, you can buy different bond types with varying interest rates through TreasuryDirect.gov. Since the bond market fluctuates often, you can easily buy and sell them, giving you access to cash when you need it.
Another government-issued savings vehicle is Treasury bills, also known as T-bills. These are fixed-income savings options that often mature within one year. T-bills are considered a low-risk investment choice, but unlike high-yield savings and CDs, if the Federal Reserve raises rates, T-bill returns will be lower. You may also purchase T-bills directly from TreasuryDirect.gov.