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Show Me The Money: Six Strategies to Put Your Cash to Work

On DROdio

UPDATE: I've posted lots of updates since I originally wrote this blog 2 years ago. If you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole, check out this post comparing Betterment vs. Wealthfront ETFs and this one on Peer to Peer lending.

My wife Sue and I have been mulling over how to most effectively deploy cash in the current economic climate to generate decent returns without taking outsize risks. We've honed in on six main strategies, which I outline below in descending order of risk.

Since everyone has a varying amount of cash to invest, I'm going to specifically call out ways to deploy small amounts of cash in some of these strategies, as I want this post to be really actionable for anyone. The most important part is to just get started, and the biggest barrier to doing that is you thinking "I don't have any money to invest." So get yourself out of that mindset and jump into the world of being an investor, even if it's just with $25 (yes it's possible, below), $100, or $1,000 or $10,000, or whatever. I also recommend putting money aside every month to invest; that's a great way to get started.

Riskiest: Angel Investing

Investing in Stocks and Bonds for Beginners

On The Best of Sett

Summary: Most funds require a minimum investment of $3,000. But you can invest in several index funds through Betterment, which doesn't have minimum deposits or hidden fees, and makes investing much simpler by selecting several index funds for you.

We’ve come a long way! As a reminder, here is a cheat sheet to remind you of what you can expect from each investment.

You can feel that money burning a hole in your pocket, and want to start investing right away I can tell. Let's look at some of your options as far as brokerages:

Your employer's 401k: Chances are, the investment options provided by your employer's retirement plan are limited and the fees are high (average .71%/person in 2011). However, you should contribute at least as much as your employer will match- something like a 50% match up to 6% of your paycheck. 50% risk-free return in a tax-deferred account? That's a no-brainer.

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