3 Investment Vehicles to Drive You Toward a Secure Future

As someone who’s likely keenly interested in growing a sizable nest egg for their retirement or for a major purchase, like a new house or even college, you want to know how you can best put your money to work for you. Some people decide to simply park their money in a standard money market account or another interest-bearing account at their local bank, and pray for great interest rates so that they can walk away better than the way they started. Others are far less passive; they take a more active role in their money’s growth potential by putting their money in various investment vehicles that stand a better chance of providing healthy returns and very little to no losses over the long term.

Sometimes people are almost afraid to discuss investment vehicles, because they feel the topic is a bit intimidating. It’s a world that they’re not particularly comfortable with, so they shy away from it. However, it is a world that everyone must become comfortable with to some degree since their livelihoods are at stake, both now and in the future. Everyone aspires to great wealth, but few acknowledge that the route there, barring a huge inheritance or an insane employer compensation package, is by investing.

Here are three common investment vehicles that are, hopefully, explained in a way in which everyone can understand them and make a preliminary decision about whether they should investigate them further as a means to grow their money.

Stocks

Stocks are arguably the most well-known investment vehicles, and they probably need no introduction. When you buy stock in a company, you’re buying a “piece” of it—you’re not temporarily renting; you’re actually taking part ownership of the company, to the extent of your investment shares. As the company’s value increases so will the value of your stocks, which is why early employees at companies like Facebook and Google could become overnight millionaires and billionaires. The two tech giants are also good examples of why owning stocks can be extremely rewarding; the relatively moderate-risk, high-upside investment can change your life. Most stock investors will have to wait, though, because stocks go up and they go down, so it takes patience to wait it out and cash in at the right time.

Bonds

While stocks grant you part ownership of a company’s assets and earnings, bonds don’t give you any type of ownership and could best be likened to an IOU. When you buy a bond from, say, the government—there are other types as well, such as bonds from corporations—you are merely loaning them the money. They, as the bond issuer, agree to pay you back at a certain time and at a certain interest rate. The interest rate is constant for the duration of the time you possess the bond; it doesn’t change in value. Loaning money to the government might sound like a good bet to many because at least they know who the borrower is and that they can be trusted—fat chance of them skipping town. Bonds have proven to be steady performers in investors’ portfolios, with interest payouts occurring twice a year.

Investment Funds—Mutual Funds and Hedge Funds

Other investment vehicles include what you might call “prepackaged” securities, as opposed to individual securities. There are various investment companies that specialize in picking a bundle of securities that they feel have the potential to be real winners, and they want you to trust in them by investing your money in their collection of picks. These investment funds, whether mutual funds or hedge funds, require a lot of faith on your behalf, but the payoff can be astonishing. Whereas mutual funds are public investment funds, hedge funds are private investment funds and are not regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A hedge fund also limits how many can be a part of them, so it’s not a come one, come all situation, and to join, you must be an accredited investor.

Because many of the people running these types of various fund operations have been successful in the past, it can be a great opportunity to piggyback on someone else’s expert knowledge in an area that you may not feel entirely knowledgeable about yourself.

You do have to be very careful, though. There have been many cases of fraud, both mutual fund fraud and hedge fund fraud. You’ll recall Bernie Madoff, right?

Which Investment Vehicle Is Right for You?

Only you can decide which investment vehicle is best for you and your family. The decision will come from looking at what kind of personality you have; for example, are you someone who can tolerate high risk? Are you someone with a high level of patience? How much are you willing to invest? How little? These are just some of the considerations to think about when deciding on one of the various investment vehicles described.