Suppose 1: I am a 25 year old just about to finishing my PhD in pure mathematics, and have saved about $100 K USD so far in my life. I have saved all $100 K USD in an American Bank (actually Bank of America).

  • Actually all $100 K USD can be used for investment, because I have additional saving (like extra $50K USD for backup).

Suppose 2: You are senior and more intelligent in finance and investment issue. You wanted to give me some serious advices.

What would you recommend me to do with this $100 K USD in the upcoming years? Say the next 10 or 20 years, and I am staying in USA.

i.e., Best secnario for a 25 yo finshing a PhD, focus a career in Academia but invest her $100 K USD at hand

Suppose 3: I would still focus most of my time doing research as I am applying my postdoc in pure mathematics. But I like to make the best enhancement for this $100 K USD. Are there some good ways to invest this money, while put my minimal attention on this investment, however I can still gain the most of profits/increase-ment out of it? (Much better than putting in a Bank.)

Note: I am currently living in US in the east coast near NYC, but I am not a US citizen (yet). I would be having about a $70K USD salary per year for upcoming years.

Thank you for the precious advices!

Edit: My question is different from Best way to start investing, for a young person just starting their career?, because I am working in Academia, so I wish to focus on my academic research/teaching, and have least distractions while stably investing. Also my starting background is different from the other post.

  • Edit: My question is different from money.stackexchange.com/q/1625/71501, because I am working in Academia, so I wish to focus on my academic research/teaching, and have least distractions while stably investing. Also my starting background is different from the other post. Thank you! Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 0:10
  • That is a really good set of resources to get your started though too, so have a look at those answers and resources they link to.
    – T. M.
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 0:30
  • @annieheart It doesn't really matter what your industry is, and the answer to your problem is standard retail investor strategies, which are detailed in the linked question.
    – Money Ann
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 16:24

4 Answers 4


I agree with the other answers recommending a low ER index fund, purchased through a low-cost well-respected (not "discount"!) brokerage, preferably one with a good selection of commission-free ETFs. If you think think it likely you will retire in the US, you can take advantage of your employer's retirement plan. Laws make it really expensive to move retirement accounts outside the country, though. And the retirement plan doesn't let you choose the custodian, you have to use the one your employer picks for as long as you keep the same job. So it's not so certain that investing in an American retirement plan above the match is a good choice for a non-citizen. Whatever gets a match is a good deal even if you someday have to pay the tax penalties.

But the point I wanted to make which other answers didn't cover, investment does not make it less worthwhile to get a savings account that pays reasonable interest, to keep your ready money (emergency fund). Also if you want a cash component in your portfolio, so you can take advantage of when "funds go on sale" (the market is down). At Bank of America, money in the bank is earning about 0.05% APY, while inflation is costing at least 2% per year.

I recommend Doctor of Credit's list of savings accounts, sorted by interest. Because you aren't a citizen, it isn't quite as easy as picking the one with the highest reviews. Doctor of Credit also has a posting covering banks that open accounts for non-citizens but it isn't very comprehensive.

Oh, from that list there are a mix of large mature banks and brand-new more questionable accounts. A subset which appear on that list and are well respected and rates over 2.0% APY:

  • Ally

  • American Express

  • Discover

  • PNC

Some, but definitely not all, brokerages also pay good (I mean at least 1.5% after expenses) dividends on their cash management fund (typically a money market account). One of those could act as your savings account.

And for both savings banks and investment brokerages, check if there's a new customer bonus. With your balance you're probably looking at $200-500 incentive each for bank and brokerage. Don't let that be the only factor in your choice, but don't neglect it if it is available.

I'm not affiliated with Doctor of Credit, just a reader who's gotten a lot of benefit from his posts. You can get similar information from e.g. Bankrate, but beware of sites that sell preferred placements on their lists.


A proper answer to this would require knowing about your short and long term financial goals. Will you need this money to spend on something such as a house in the next 5-10 years? Do you plan to maximize your 403(b) contributions from your new salary or would your basic expenses be too high to manage that? Not knowing those, the best advice you can get is some options.

  1. A diversified low cost brokerage, ETF, or mutual fund account. You can target any mix from 100% low risk bonds and cash to 100% equities. The mix would depend on your desired return and tolerance for the risk you would assume by trying to target greater return, as well as the time horizon for when you would expect to need to spend some of the money. If you need some in a few years to buy a house or for a wedding that would dictate a very different investment mix than if you were quite sure that all of the money would be untouched for 10 years or more. You could target a return anywhere from 3% to 10% per year or more depending on the risk you could accept and your time horizon.

  2. Use the 100k as a sinking fund to cover your expenses as you maximize your contributions to your 403(b) plan at $19,000 as well as a Roth IRA contribution of $6,000 and increase as the limits rise. These plans are tax advantaged and maximizing them and making both Roth and regular pre-tax contributions will give you good tax advantages now and in the future as well.

  3. A combination of the two. Attempt to maximize your contributions and attempt not to spend anything from the sinking fund. If you are successful in not spending the sinking fund you will be well set up to reach your future financial goals.

  4. Use some of the 100k to purchase investment real estate. This is typically not a good option unless you put in the time to understand the risks and particulars of a given property.

  • Thanks, T.M., +1, for example, a goal can be how to safely do an investment and stably gain to earn $1M soon or in a few years, under my situation? Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 0:07
  • 1
    That can be a goal, but what would you want to do with the money is usually a better goal. What would having the $1M do for you other than to be able to point at it on a piece of paper. What life goals do you have such as retirement, children's education, starting a business, etc? Figuring out how to achieve those with your financial resources is the name of the game. You're young though and goals can change, so leaving some flexibility is good.
    – T. M.
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 0:28

The question doesn't ask for long-term growth set against fluctuation and volatility but asks for something better than a bank.

Well, there are several internet banks that the current bank account can link-to that pay almost as much as a three-month Treasury Bill.

Also, there are Treasury Direct accounts that link to the current bank account with non-hedge-fund buy-and-hold investors probably going as long as two-year durations.

And there are long-term Treasury Bond ETF's near 3% dividend that can be held while also holding a sell-side Treasury Bond future. The investor is the hedge fund.

There is a leveraged and hedged Treasury open-end mutual fund that was previously a closed-end fund that is paying about 6% dividend. And there is a closed-end leveraged and hedged TIP fund paying about 4% dividend. These choices are volatile but very entertaining.

Then another step up is leveraged and hedged mortgage-REIT's that pay about 10% dividends.

But certainly suggest that one or two stocks with particularly good prospects be held at 20% or so total percentage of the portfolio. Or else hold a stock index at 20% of the portfolio.

  • Thanks, +1, for example, a goal can be how to safely do an investment and stably gain to earn $1M soon or in a few years, under my situation? Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 0:07
  • An investor would be doing very good just to double a starting investment in ten years. For a ten-times gain in ten years, buy stocks during recessions and wait it out. Or buy stocks that seem to have particularly good prospects. Or keep adding to the starting investment while holding stock index funds.
    – S Spring
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 0:52
  • @SSpring: Doubling in 10 years is not remarkably good, the S&P 500 doubles in 8, on average. You're right that getting to a million without overdoing the risk is going to need either more time (in the ballpark of 25-30 years) or ongoing contributions.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 4:50
  • @SSpring: I do question, however, why you've only presented options where the whole return is as dividend. Isn't capital growth generally better in terms of taxation?
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 4:53
  • @BenVoigt Most investors (including professional fund managers) don't beat the index. And "Mr Index" doesn't pay dealing costs, buy/sell spreads, and annual management charges either.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 15:50

Buy an index fund.

This ticks both the boxes. You don't need to pay much attention to it, because it's an index fund, and historically the rate of return is likely to be better than saving all the money in a bank.

Pick an index fund. Choose something that tacks as much of the market as possible (so you don't have to pay attention to the investment). Something like VOO works. By buying an index fund, you get automatic diversification, which protects you from busts from individual sectors (e.g. if everyone in the world stopped buying phones overnight, the telco sector would go bust, but you're insulated from it because it's just one sector out of many in your portfolio). Then put in the entire $100k, reinvest dividends, and forget about the investment.

If you're concerned that you might buy at a "bad time" and the stock market will crash immediately after you buy it, you can also dollar cost average.

  • 1
    I would buy several funds, though. At a minimum a US index and and international one.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 3:57
  • 1
    @jamesqf: Plenty of low ER fund-of-fund wrappers that have USA, foreign, and bonds all together, for example Fidelity Freedom Index series.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 4:45

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