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What to consider before investing $30K

It might be tempting to invest your money quickly so it's not sitting idly in a bank account somewhere. But there are some important factors you should consider before diving in.

Building an emergency fund

Before you dive into investing $30,000, it's important to build an emergency fund first. As the name suggests, an emergency fund is a chunk of cash you set aside to cover, well, emergencies. Life can throw curve balls when we least expect it, so this cash reserve helps cover things like your car breaking down or events like losing your job.

Some financial advisors recommend keeping at least six months of living expenses set aside for emergencies. For an even more conservative approach, stash one year of expenses. A high-yield savings account is the best home for your emergency fund since it lets your money earn interest to offset a bit of inflation.

Your investing timeframe

Are you investing for the long-term or looking for short-term investments? This is an important question to answer because your strategies differ greatly depending on your timeframe.

If you're investing for retirement and have decades ahead of you, you can take on more risk with your investments because time and compound interest are on your side. In contrast, if you need the $30,000 in a few years, you should invest more conservatively to reduce the risk of losing your principal.

Outstanding debt

Sometimes, the best investment you can make is to pay off outstanding debts you have. And I'm not talking about lower-interest debt like a mortgage you might have; think credit card debt or any other form of high-interest debt.

Your risk tolerance

One final factor to consider before investing 30k is your risk tolerance. Your investment timeframe ties into this, but you should also consider your own comfort level with investing in riskier assets. Market volatility isn't easy to stomach, even for seasoned investors, so think about what type of portfolio you want to create.

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The best ways to invest $30K right now

With these considerations out of the way, it's time to explore some of our favorite ideas for investing $30,000 right now.

1. Stocks & ETFs

Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to invest $30,000 is to invest in a variety of stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

This is also one of the simplest investing paths you can go down. Online stock brokers are almost all commission-free these days for stock and ETF trades. And you can open a brokerage account within a few minutes and invest in tax-advantaged accounts like an IRA.

Highlights Ally Invest TD Ameritrade Robinhood
Rating 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.3/5
Min. investment $0 $0 $0
Stock trades $0/trade $0/trade $0/trade
Options trades $0.50/contract $0.65/contract $0
Crypto trades No No Yes
Mutual funds Yes Yes No
Virtual trading No Yes Yes
Reviews Ally Invest TD Ameritrade Robinhood
Sign up Open account Open account Open account

Choosing what to invest in is really the most challenging part. And there's no cookie-cutter answer. Some investors prioritize dividend income, while others prefer growth stocks. And there's so many sectors to explore, ranging from classics like tech or consumer goods to more niche sectors, like the metaverse or fintech stocks.

ETFs are best if you want to diversify your portfolio and don't want to spend time researching individual companies. But you can also build a diverse portfolio of individual stocks.

The most important thing is to do your research so you understand your investment choices. There are plenty of free and paid sites that can help with your investment research, like Seeking Alpha or The Motley Fool. And you can also stay up-to-date by subscribing to financial magazines or newsletters, including our Moneywise newsletter.

2. Real estate

You might think it's impossible to invest $30,000 in real estate with the way property prices are moving in many markets. However, it's actually incredibly easy to invest in real estate without much money.

With real estate crowdfunding sites, you can invest in income-generating real estate starting with just $10. These crowdfunding platforms pool money together from investors and invest in commercial and residential real estate. You then earn from potential share appreciation, and many platforms pay quarterly or annual dividends.

Fundrise is one of our favorite platforms because of the low investment requirement and the fact it only charges 1% in annual fees.

Just note that real estate investments aren't very liquid. Platforms like Fundrise have a secondary marketplace where you can sell shares, but liquidity isn't guaranteed, which is a risk.

This is a testimonial in partnership with Fundrise. We earn a commission from partner links on Moneywise. All opinions are our own.

3. Index funds

Index funds are essentially baskets of stocks that follow an underlying index. For example, there are index funds that mirror the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500. And if you prefer passive vs. active investing, index funds could be an excellent way to invest $30,000.

Investors like index funds because they provide diversification. Many index funds are also low-fee, and you can invest in a variety of them through most online brokers. Plus, historically, index funds and passive investments have typically performed better than actively managed funds that try to outperform the market.

4. Mutual funds

Like index funds, mutual funds provide investors with a simple way to diversify their portfolio. The main difference is that many types of mutual funds are actively managed by fund managers, hence the name.

Historically, mutual funds have had higher fees than index funds or ETFs because of this active management strategy. However, the best brokers for mutual funds are gradually becoming more competitive and lowering trading fees. And there are some mutual funds out there that don't have brutally-high management fees. Fidelity and J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing are our two brokers for mutual funds, but check your broker for any no-transaction fee (NTF) mutual fund offerings.

Also know that there are different types of mutual funds you can research when investing $30,000. For example, there are index mutual funds, sector mutual funds, and geographic-based mutual funds you can consider.


5. Cryptocurrency

If you're still wondering how to invest $30K, you can always put a portion of your investment into cryptocurrencies.

Crypto investing has grown in popularity within the last few years. And despite 2022 bringing on “crypto winter” with major coins like Bitcoin and altcoins crashing, this doesn't mean crypto isn't a viable investment. Proponents of crypto and blockchain technology argue this technology is here to stay. If this prediction is true, then investing early in digital assets or the companies powering this space could yield handsome returns.

You also have numerous options for investing like:

If you're brand new to investing, it's certainly risky to put your entire $30,000 nest egg into digital assets. The crypto market can be incredibly volatile, especially if you're investing in altcoins or assets like non-fungible tokens (NFTs). But for a bit of diversification, you can consider the world of crypto and DeFi.

6. Alternative assets

Like crypto investing, you can consider investing in alternative assets with a portion of your $30,000. And you have numerous options thanks to the variety of crowdfunding platforms out there.

Examples of alternative asset classes you can invest in include:

Keep in mind, alternative assets are often illiquid and risky, so this isn't the right strategy for everyone. And many of these platforms charge much higher management fees than investments like ETFs.

The trade-off is that alternative investments don't always correlate with the stock market. So, you can potentially use investments like wine or artwork as a form of downside protection if markets are hurting.

7. Fixed-income investments

If you're investing for the short-term or want a more conservative strategy, fixed-income investments might be the right choice. These investments provide steadier albeit lower returns than stocks or ETFs, making them a popular choice for generating stable income.

Several fixed-income investments worth considering include:

The main downside to this strategy is that you're often looking at 1% to 2% in annual returns. This might sound fine for short-term investing, but remember: inflation is a hidden tax you need to account for.

Thankfully, there are some slightly more lucrative options out there. For example, Aspiration pays up to 5% APY for its Spend & Save account on your first $10,000 as long as you spend $1,000 per month with its card. Many other high-yield savings accounts also have competitive rates, so don't be afraid to explore your options.

8. Robo-advisor

Robo-advisors are a passive investing solution that have become immensely popular in recent years. With robo-advisors, you provide information about your investing goals, risk tolerance, and the types of investments you're interested in. Your robo-advisor of choice then builds a portfolio of various ETFs and bonds to match what you're looking for.

People like robo-advisors because they're easy-to-use and generally charge low fees. And many robo-advisors offer ESG investments or more specialized portfolios as well, so there's some flexibility.

Leading robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront only charge 0.25% in annual management fees, which is only $75 per year for a $30,000 portfolio. SoFi Automated Investing doesn't charge fees, although SoFi ETFs can have high fees.

In any case, robo-advisors are one of the best ways to invest $30,000 if you want to be completely hands-off. And fees are significantly lower than working with a financial advisor.

Advice for picking your investments

There are plenty of investing options at your disposal thanks to technology and the rise of more fintech companies. But here are a few more tips you should keep in mind when making your final decisions.

Be mindful of fees

High investing fees can turn a decent year of performance into a much worse reality. When choosing ways to invest $30K, consider what annual or hidden fees might mean for performance. This is especially important for crowdfunding sites or alternative investing platforms where fees can be quite high.

Consider active vs. passive choices

Do you want to spend time researching investment opportunities, or keep things completely passive? This is an important decision to make since investing in individual stocks requires a lot more research time than sticking with a passive robo-advisor.

Keep things simple

Historically, very few actively managed funds and individual investors have been able to consistently outperform the market. In fact, famous investor Warren Buffet won a 10 year bet against several hedge funds after he bet that they wouldn't be able to outperform the S&P 500 over the following decade.

This bet highlights the overarching theme that keeping investing simple isn't a bad call. Time and compound interest tend to go in your favor if you stick with value investing and don't react emotionally to markets. It doesn't matter if you're investing $30,000 or investing $1 million; simplicity is usually a good thing.

More: Best investment apps for beginners

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Bottom line

There isn't a right or wrong answer for how to invest $30K. Really, choosing the right investments means considering your goals, risk tolerance, and what type of investor you really are.

And there's nothing wrong with diversifying your portfolio across a few ideas. In fact, this is generally a better idea than dumping all your money into one company or asset class and hoping for the best.

Just remember to always do your research when investing. There's no reason you can't turn $30,000 into the start of a nest egg that serves you well into retirement. But you have to put in the work to learn the basics of investing and what your options are.

Moneywise receives cash compensation from Wealthfront Advisers LLC (“Wealthfront Advisers”) for each new client that applies for a Wealthfront Automated Investing Account through our links. This creates an incentive that results in a material conflict of interest. Moneywise is not a Wealthfront Advisers client, and this is a paid endorsement. More information is available via our links to Wealthfront Advisers.

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About the Author

Tom Blake

Tom Blake

Staff Writer

Tom Blake is a staff writer who specializes in cryptocurrency, investing, and passive income.

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The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.