Where should I invest money to get good returns?

Stocks, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, bonds, and bank certificates can all help you preserve and grow your wealth. The critical thing is to choose investments that you are knowledgeable about and that fit your goals, your time horizon, and your constraints.

If you have the time and interest to do the research yourself, you can weigh the pros and cons of the various options in light of your personal situation and then determine the right investment mix and specific investments that are a good fit for your situation.

If not, it might be prudent to seek out professional assistance from an experienced advisor who can help you take stock of your personal situation and recommend the best ways to put your money to work in sound investments that can help you grow their value for you.

Whether you do it yourself or with the help of a good financial advisor, here is an overview of the major categories of investment options and a little about each approach. With the right work ethic, an open mind, and a sound approach or alternatively with the benefit of professional advice, you can put yourself on the path to generating good returns that will help you reach your goals faster and with less risk of mistakes that could set you back years or even decades from reaching your goals.

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The stock market

You can see significant returns when investing in the ever-evolving and changing stock market. The stock market works by democratizing the opportunity of ownership of the many firms that drive the overall economy.  In the United States alone, there are more than 12,000 public traded companies.  Out of this number, the largest and most established 500 companies are part of an index called the S&P500 which many investors and journalists use as a measure of the health of the overall stock market.

You invest in a company by buying their stock which generally trades during market hours on one of the several main stock exchanges which have been established to facilitate these trades between investors.  In the United States, the main stock exchanges are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the NASDAQ, and the OTC exchange.

While some people think of stocks as little pieces of paper that wiggle around arbitrarily and investing in stocks as gambling, the reality is that investing is stocks is actually partial ownership in the business that it represents.  Stock market investors can do well when the earning of the company grow over time.  When the company makes a profit, they often also pay their investors a portion of those profits in the form of dividends.

This is an excellent option if you are looking for solid returns and have enough of a time horizon for your investment to be able to withstand the ups and downs that go along with stock market investing.  To be successful, you have to be able to research and identify good companies with good management leaders that you invest in. You also need the patience and stomach to stick to your long-term investments even when the market gets volatile – which happens in normal functioning stock markets. 

Of course, for those you can use some assistance, the help of a financial professional can be invaluable to select the right investments and mitigate or avoid substantial mistakes and losses such as those caused by a drop in a company’s value.

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Mutual funds

Mutual funds allow you to buy a bundle of stocks in one purchase. A professional manager typically manages the fund and makes investment decisions for the entire portfolio, so keep in mind that you will pay a percentage-based fee for this service, which is also called an expense ratio.

Of course, reaching and choosing the right funds for your circumstances can also be challenging.  In the US along, there are over 9000 mutual funds to select from.  Just as with stocks, you have to select your fund investments thoughtfully and the overwhelming number of options to choose from can make this almost as challenging as picking the right stocks as investments.

Investment bonds

When you invest in stocks, you are an owner in the company whose stock you own.  When you invest in bonds, however, you are loaning your money to someone.

Bonds come in a variety of flavors, such as government bonds, corporate bonds, or mortgage-backed bonds – just to name a few. While stocks give you a share of the profits of a company, including in the form of dividends, bonds only give you the interest paid on the bond over its life plus a return of your principle. 

Bonds are sometimes considered less risky than stocks.  While bonds may be lower risk compared with stocks, the returns are also relatively moderate – especially in a low interest rate world.  Bonds are also less volatile because they “mature” at a certain time.

If you believe that slow and steady wins the race, you may want to consider what mix of bonds and stocks is right for you.

Certificates of deposit (CDs)

This investment method offers you an alternative to savings accounts. It yields a higher return than savings accounts, but locks you into a set saving period, during which you cannot withdraw the money. A saving period can range from several months to several years.  With this option, you are also getting insurance just in case the bank holding your deposits experiences and issue.

As well as these popular investment options, many other ways to invest your money exist. Finding your investment preferences takes research and time, or at least it should. Hiring a wealth manager and experienced advisor is often the best option to save time and grow your money.

If you have money to invest, don’t delay any longer. Get some advice if that’s what you need to take the next step. Investing money carefully can see your wealth grow substantially, and the earlier you start, the better the potential returns.

About the Author

High Net Worth Financial Advisor New Jersey

Kaushal “Ken” Majmudar, CFA founded Ridgewood Investments in 2002 and serves as our Chief Investment Officer with primary focus on managing our Value Investing based strategies. Ken graduated with honors from the Harvard Law School in 1994 after being an honors graduate of Columbia University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Prior to founding Ridgewood Investments in late 2002, Ken worked for seven years on Wall Street as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers where he has extensive experience working on initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions transactions and other corporate finance advisory work for Fortune 1000 companies. He is admitted to the bar in New York and New Jersey though retired from the practice of law.

Ken’s high level experience and work with clients has been recognized and cited on multiple occasions. He is a noted value investor who has written and spoken extensively on the subject of value investing and intelligent investing. He has been a member of the Value Investors Club – an online members-only group for skilled value investors founded by Joel Greenblatt, SumZero – an online community for professional investors, and has also written for SeekingAlpha – among others. Ken is active in leading professional groups for investment managers as a member of both the CFA Institute and the New York Society of Securities Analysts.