Keeping Money in Lending Investments in Your 20s and 30s

By Eric Tyson

You may want or need to play it safe when investing money for shorter-term purposes, so you should consider lending investments. Many people use such investments through local banks, such as in a checking account, savings account, or certificate of deposit. In all these cases with a bank, you’re lending your money to the bank.

Another lending investment is bonds. When you purchase a bond that has been issued by the government or a company, you agree to lend your money for a predetermined period of time and receive a particular rate of interest. A corporate bond may pay you 4 percent interest annually over the next three years, for example.

An investor’s return from lending investments is typically limited to the original investment plus interest payments. If you lend your money to a company through one of its bonds that matures in, say, five years, and the firm doubles its revenue and profits over that period, you won’t share in its growth. The company’s stockholders are likely to reap the rewards of the company’s success, but as a bondholder, you don’t. You simply get interest and the face value of the bond back at maturity.

Similar to bank savings accounts, money market mutual funds are another type of lending investment. Money market mutual funds generally invest in ultra-safe things such as short-term bank certificates of deposit, U.S. government–issued Treasury bills, and commercial paper (short-term bonds) that the most creditworthy corporations issue.

Many people keep too much of their money in lending investments, thus allowing others to enjoy the rewards of economic growth. Although lending investments appear safer because you know in advance what return you’ll receive, they aren’t that safe. The long-term risk of these seemingly safe money investments is that your money will grow too slowly (perhaps not even keeping you ahead of or even with the rate of inflation) to enable you to accomplish your personal financial goals. In the worst cases, the company or other institution to which you’re lending money can go under and fail to repay your loan.