Too often, people associate retirement savings with older Americans who are preparing to leave the workforce. However, investing in the future should be a part of day-to-day life for adults of any age. One survey of more than 1,000 retirees found 70% wished they had started saving and investing more when they were younger. Even small investments can have a big return over time.
There are also multiple ways to grow your wealth and increase your stability in the coming years. Here are a few options to consider no matter how old you are.
High-Yield Savings Account
A savings account is a great place to start if you need somewhere to grow your rainy day fund. You don’t need a large sum of money to contribute to this account and you also don’t need investing know-how to maintain it. The main difference between a high-yield savings account and a standard one is the interest rate. High-yield accounts will grow faster and help you increase your money over time.
Despite the benefits of these accounts (like the reduced risk and ease of access), there are some drawbacks to opening high-yield savings accounts. These accounts will have lower returns than other investment opportunities and are unlikely to outpace inflation in the long term. Plus, you can still access the funds. While this is helpful in an emergency, it means you could wipe out your savings within a day if you needed to.
Consider a high-yield account as a wealth management starting point and then look for additional ways to grow your portfolio.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
A certificate of deposit (CD) is like a savings account except that you deposit a lump sum at once and can’t touch the money until the investment matures. There are multiple benefits of this option:
- You won’t accidentally spend your savings.
- CDs have higher interest rates than savings accounts.
- They are considered a lower-risk investment compared to stocks.
- Almost every bank or credit union offers them.
Every investment comes with risks alongside rewards, and CDs are no different. Some investors might not like that they can’t liquidate their CDs without paying costly penalties. Others might actually want a riskier investment to potentially earn higher returns. Evaluate the pros and cons of each investment before moving forward.
When you buy a treasury bond, you are loaning money to the United States government. The bonds, bills, or notes will accrue interest and will be paid out at the designated time period. These lending periods can range from one year for treasury bills up to 30 years for treasury bonds (treasury bills usually last between two and five years).
These documents come with lower risk levels than stocks because they are backed by the government. You can also choose the duration of the bond, bill, or note. However, this investment option isn’t flexible. You can’t switch your bonds to more competitive options until they mature and you can’t find ways to increase your interest rate. Consider this option for a stable investment to learn about money management.
If you have a particular retirement date in mind, consider a target-date fund. This is a collection of stocks and bonds that investors buy into and mature at a specific date. Fund managers often develop diverse portfolios which reduce the risk levels of this investment. As an individual, you can grow your money through stocks without having to manage the purchase and sale of different shares yourself.
While these funds are also considered low-risk investments, there are some potential drawbacks to choosing them:
- You can’t control what the fund is invested in.
- You can’t control the risk levels (the investments will become more conservative as the target date approaches).
- You might not be able to access the funds before the target date without paying costly fees.
These funds are often associated with 401(k) plans so employees can prepare for retirement even if they don’t have high levels of investment knowledge.
Another way to save for retirement is with a Roth IRA. This option is self-managed (not provided by your employer) and it is funded by after-tax dollars, which means you don’t need to pay taxes on the investment. You can also control how much you contribute to your IRA.
Taking out an IRA might be a good option if you are self-employed, plan to change jobs in the future, or simply don’t want to tie your retirement to your employer. However, you might miss out on matching contributions from an employer-provided 401(k). Roth IRAs also have a contribution limit of $6,500 for 2023, which might not be ideal if you want to invest aggressively ahead of retirement.
Buying a House
Buying a house is one of the most common long-term investments that people make. Everyone needs a home, and buying a house allows you to invest in your future rather than write a rent check to a landlord every month. In May 1993, the median home price was $101,700. In March 2023, the median home value was $385,556. Assuming your house falls at these medians, it would have experienced a value increase of $283,856.
Houses are also a valuable investment because you can live in them — your stock options won’t keep you out of the rain on a blustery day. However, this option isn’t foolproof. The housing market can fall as well as rise, lowering your home values. There are annual costs to maintain the home (including taxes, utility bills, and repairs). Natural forces can also destroy your investment — especially if you don’t have home insurance.
Other Real Estate Investments
As you grow your wealth, you might consider buying additional properties and renting them out to increase your investments. These can include other houses or commercial real estate investments. Real estate is quickly becoming a popular investment option for middle-class Americans. Even investing in real estate mutual funds can help you grow your money with the housing market.
Eventually, you might discover that real estate is your passion, leading you to explore a career in real estate development. This will allow you to take a more hands-on approach to researching, flipping, and managing different properties.
College isn’t just for the young. You might decide to pursue an advanced degree to enter a higher-paying field or to rise up on the career ladder.
Certain degrees like MBAs and other business-centric certificates are considered investments. The short-term stress of studying and the cost of the courses are worth the long-term connections and increased payout. In fact, the average annual salary of MBA graduates in 2020 was $101,034.
An advanced degree differs in some key ways from a general MBA, and it’s worth considering your long-term career objectives when determining which route is right for you.
Career With Growth Opportunities
You don’t need a large bank account to invest in your future, you can grow your potential wealth and options every day you clock into work. Consider your current company and the potential growth options within the organization. What levels could you rise to — and what benefits would come with them?
If you don’t see yourself growing in your current company, grow your skills and experience so you can move on to another where you will thrive. This might mean seeking out additional training or attending educational networking events. By investing in yourself, you can eventually grow your wealth and expand into other financial options.