Basically I'm tired of money just sitting there doing nothing. Is it wise to open a savings account with my bank (Chase)? Should I take it elsewhere? Should I get into stocks? Do I even have enough?
If you were in my position, what would you do?
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These are the basics in order:
Max your employer contributions to your 401k if available
Pay off any loans
Contribute to an IRA
Perhaps max out your 401k
Look into other investment options (refinance your mortgage, buy stocks)
Those are the typical rules, special situations may need specials actions...
Lets make some assumptions.
You are not close to retirement. You have no other debts. You have a job. You have no big need for the money.
You should invest that. Do not invest with a bank, they are not as competitive on fees as a brokerage account.
You can get specific answers that are different from every person, (so you should dig in and research a lot more if you care (and you should). Personally, I would suggest you open an account with one of the low cost providers.
Then, with that new investment account, put your money into a target retirement account. File your statements away and tend to it once a year. (Make sure it is there, that you can access it, that nothing alarming is going on). You certainly have enough to start an investment account. If you want to get more into it, ask a phone adviser what you should open.
Finally, before you start investing, make sure you follow the advice of radix07 and have no debt, saving the most you can for retirement.
Congratulations, you are a saver. Investing isn't for you as the risk of investing is in conflict with your desire to preserver you money.
Open a savings account or high interest checking account with a credit union, online only or local community bank. Shop around no the web for the highest interest. Don't get your hopes up though, the highest rate you see (that doesn't have strings attached) won't be much here late summer of 2012.
Aside from employer 401(k) matches (which may double your money immediately), paying off debts is almost always the best place to start. Paying off a debt early is a zero-risk operation and will earn you
N% (where N is your interest rate). Is that a good deal for a zero-risk return? The closest equivalent today (Aug 24, 2012) is that you can earn about
2.68% on 10-year Treasury bonds.
Unless you have a really, really good interest rate (or the interest is tax-deductible), paying off your loan will offer an excellent risk-adjusted return, so you should do that. The "really good" interest rate is typically a mortgage or student loans. (Mortgage interest is also tax-deductible, at least for now.) In those cases, you're not going to gain nearly as much by paying the loan early, and the loan is large - larger than the amount you want to have in risk-free investments. You want to invest for returns, as well! So you can save for retirement instead (in a 401(k) or similar account) and take on a little risk.
First thing's first: migrate your savings to an interest-bearing savings account (such as from Ally Bank). While it still lags behind inflation, 0.84% is still better than 0.00%. Short-term CDs are also an option. I've personally thought about experimenting with peer-to-peer lending, but a few thousand in savings isn't all that much in the grand scheme of things, and you don't want it tied up in a risky, speculative loan when you might need it the most.
As the others have said, the general savings rules apply too: pay off high-interest debt, divert more money into your 401k (especially if you aren't hitting the match yet), then work on either whittling down other debts or saving more for a big purchase in the future.
Alright so you have $12,000 and you want to know what to do with it. The main thing here is, you're new to investments. I suggest you don't do anything quick and start learning about the different kinds of investment options that can be available to you with returns you might appreciate.
The most important questions to ask yourself is what are your life goals? What kind of financial freedom do you want, and how important is this $12,000 dollars to you in achieving your life goals.
My best advice to you and to anyone else who is looking for a place to put their money in big or small amounts when they have earned this money not from an investment but hard work is to find a talented and professional financial advisor.
You need to be educated on the options you have, and keep them in lines of what risks you are willing to take and how important that principal investment is to you. Investing your money is not easy at all, and novices tend to lose their money a lot. The same way you would ask a lawyer for law advice, its best to consult a financial planner for advice, or so they can invest that money for you.
I had some extra money, so I opened American express saving account. At the time which was offering .80%, now .90%. I put most of the money in the saving account. The remainder of my money in a investment account at my local bank. I was in touch once a week with investment, I learned allot how the stock market worked and tax deferment(401k, IRA, IRA Roth). My suggestion is to do test run and see if you like it. Side note, NOT ALL investment are created equal.