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My income exceeds my expenses, so I save money monthly. I tend to move countries every 2–6 years. Until I settle in a place where I expect to stay at least 5–10 years, I rent my home. By the time I settle and I'm ready to buy, I may only need a small mortgage or even none at all (depending on where I'll be). I was previously living in Sweden and Canada, I currently live in the UK, I might live in Germany next.

I have my savings spread over savings accounts in three different currencies and a small amount in an index fund. All those accounts hold deposits I can access at any time. I don't know when I may be ready to buy a home. Perhaps in one year, perhaps in six years, perhaps later. In other words, the investment horizon is highly uncertain.

With interest rates effectively zero, my savings are slowly losing value.

Considering that I don't know when I may want to access the bulk of my savings to buy a home (either outright or as a down payment with a mortgage), how can I improve?

Fixed-term savings accounts pay a little bit more interest (perhaps enough to offset inflation) but won't be much use if I end up buying a home before the term is out.

Index funds may be worth a lot more 2–5 years from now than today — or a lot less. It would seem like a gamble to put a lot of my savings into those when I don't know when I want to access them.

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    A vague investment horizon of 1, 6, or "more" years makes it a bit difficult to recommend one type of investment strategy over another. – CactusCake Aug 31 '18 at 16:04
  • @CactusCake Yes. – gerrit Aug 31 '18 at 16:38
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I don't know what country you live in, and that will change what options you have.

It seems like what you are looking for are a series of short term, low risk, inflation beating investments, that are fairly liquid in the case that you move.

The only thing I can think of at the moment for you would be to put your money into short term US treasuries bills. These are short term bonds (1 year or less) that pay interest that just beats out inflation. You wont get rich off them, however it is better than having your money sit in the bank doing nothing. Inflation in the US is about 3% with treasuries yielding 3-4% you would be outperforming inflation by 1%.

  • Is a 1-year bill the same as a 1-year US government bond (or indeed other government) bond? – gerrit Aug 31 '18 at 17:42
  • Yes. However make sure to do your due diligence if you are going to buy bonds of other countries. Different countries will have different names for these things. The key thing here would be to look at the maturity date. Make sure the inflation rate is lower than the interest rate on the bond otherwise you are loosing money. And make sure the country you invest in isn't likely to default on the debt. – user75979 Aug 31 '18 at 19:58
  • It looks like I have a whole load of reading up to do on this, and initially I mostly find trading in pre-existing bonds, which appear to fluctuate in value just like stocks do, so I'll have a lot more to understand before investing any significant amount of money. – gerrit Aug 31 '18 at 20:03

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