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Fix $10,000 savings mistake

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Dear Dr. Don,
I am 54 years old and have $10,000 to invest. I plan to retire at age 65. What is the best strategy for the most gain? The money is currently in a safe-deposit box not earning any interest. I also have a small safety net for emergencies. Should I see a financial planner?
— Rivera Retirement

Dear Rivera,
You definitely should have this money earning a return versus sitting in a safe-deposit box. How much risk you should take while investing the funds depends on your overall finances and your attitude toward risk.

If you keep your money in a safe-deposit box, you aren’t likely to be comfortable investing for the most gain. There’s a trade-off between risk and what you can expect to earn on an investment.

I think meeting with a financial planner is an excellent idea. He or she will be able to look at your overall financial situation and give you an idea of what you can expect in retirement income. I’d suggest a fee-only planner for an initial consultation.

The Bankrate feature “Financial planners: Not just for millionaires anymore” provides a nice overview on making the decision to hire a planner. You should also look at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards article “How to Choose a Planner.”

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.” Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.