Dear Dr. Don,
I’m a longtime fan and reader of your columns and the Bankrate.com Web site. I am currently deployed in Iraq. My wife and I just had our first child. There are a lot of soldiers in my unit in a similar situation, so this question is from all of us.
When we redeploy back to the states, some of us will have around $50,000 in savings. Where is the best place to invest that much and still have easy access to it in case of emergencies? Also, we are willing to take some risk since the majority of us are between 22 and 27 years old. With the current economy, we are all kind of unsure about what to do.
— Deployed in Iraq
Thanks for the kind words about the column and the site. We’re big fans of soldiers and their families and respect the sacrifices made to serve our country — especially in wartime. Thank you for all that you do.
In answering your question, I’d like to make a distinction between saving and investing. It’s not that there’s no overlap between the two terms, but distinguishing between savings and investments can help you make better decisions about where to put your money.
The Bankrate feature “Should savers break rules?” lays out how I see savings versus investments.
In trying to find a “home” for the $50,000, you’ll come to realize you’re looking for a couple of homes — one for savings and one for your investments. The aforementioned story will help you decide where to put your emergency fund and other savings.
The investing side gets a little more complicated. I’d be hard-pressed to give you investment advice, much less the men and women you serve with, based on the little bit I know about you. In general, you want to match your attitude toward risk with the riskiness of the investment and your time horizon.
People in their 20s investing for retirement have a whole different outlook on investing than folks trying to save for short-term goals, like the down payment on a house. Take the Rutgers “Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz” to see what kind of appetite you have for risk when investing.
You also have to decide where you’re going to hold these investments. Will they be held in a tax-advantaged retirement account, a tax-advantaged college savings plan or a taxable account? Again, you may want to split the money among the types of accounts.
Keep an eye on fees and expenses when finding a home for your investments. I’m a big proponent of no-load mutual funds, but if you need advice in choosing funds, don’t be afraid to pay a fee-only planner to advise you. The Bankrate feature “Financial planners: Not just for millionaires anymore” can help you with that decision.
Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice. To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the “Ask the Experts” page, and select one of these topics: “Financing a home,” “Saving & Investing” or “Money.”