best short term investments 2023

6 Best Short-Term Investments In May 2024

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Are you looking for a short-term investment option that can provide a decent return without the risk of a long-term commitment? It usually doesn’t make sense to invest money in the stock market if you need it in the next year or so. Whether you are saving for a down payment on a home, planning a wedding, or simply looking to grow your money in the short-term, here are six of the best short-term investments to consider in 2024.

What are short-term investments?

Short-term investments are types of investments, like brokered CDs and T-Bills, that are typically held for a short period of time, usually one year or less. They are designed to provide investors with a relatively low-risk way to earn a return on their money within a short timeframe.

Money loses value over time because of inflation. So you need a short-term investment that gives you a decent return to catch up with inflation. If you invest in stocks, then you probably don’t want to touch that money over the next several years and there is additional risk involved. However, short-term investments can provide a higher interest rate, limited risk and access to your money when you need it.

Best Short-Term Investments in 2024

If you are looking for somewhere to invest your money with low risk, here are 6 best short-term investments for 2024.

1. High-Yield Savings Accounts

One of the safest and easiest short-term investment options is a high-yield savings account. They work the same as a standard savings account. You deposit money and interest is compounded daily and then typically paid to you monthly. You can open a high-yield savings account online and there are no monthly fees. They are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000.

High-yield savings accounts offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. Many banks pay almost nothing on traditional savings accounts. However, some high-yield accounts can offer annual percentage yields as high as 5.05%. That may not seem like a lot compared to long-term stock returns, but it’s a great rate for almost no risk.

A high-yield savings account can be a great place to store your emergency fund or cash as you can access the money at any time and you don’t need to worry about losing money. High-yield savings accounts are insured by the FDIC, up to $250,000 per depositor per bank. There is no other investment that offers you the ease of access that you get with a high-yield savings account.

When you look at a high-yield savings account, don’t just look at the rate. After you compare the rate, check if they do mobile check deposits, the daily limit of mobile check deposits, and the daily limit of ACH transfers. 

As of May 1, 2024, the current high-yield saving account rates are:
RateMinimum Balance to Get RateMobile Check Deposit?Daily Limit of Mobile DepositDaily Limit of ACH Transfer (out/incoming)
Capital One 3604.25%$0Yes$35,000?$10,000?
Ally4.20%$0Yes$50,000$150k/ $500k
American Express4.25%$0Yes$2,000?
Marcus4.40%$0NoN/A$125k
Synchrony4.75%$0Yes$2,000$25k/ $250k?
LendingClub5.00%$100Yes$50,000$10k to $250k
CIT Bank5.05%$5,000Yes$10,000$250k/ $500k

2. Money Market Accounts

Money market accounts, or MMAs, are similar to high-yield savings accounts but typically require a higher minimum balance to earn the highest interest rates. Money market accounts typically offer higher interest rates compared to savings accounts, checking accounts, or high-yield savings accounts. Most money market accounts are FDIC insured for up to $250,000. You are typically limited to 6 transactions per billing cycle. 

Most banks have a low money market account rate.  To get a high money market account rate, open a brokerage account with a brokerage firm such as Vanguard, Fidelity, or Schwab.

As of May 1, 2024, money market account rates are:

  • Fidelity MM: 4.99% to 5.03%
  • Schwab MM: 5.15%
  • Vanguard MM: 5.28% ($3,000 minimum investment)

3. Cash Accounts

Cash accounts are a safe and secure place to hold funds that can be easily accessed when needed. Only a few people know about this option and you can only access this if you have a brokerage account. The rates at the moment are about 3.75% to 5.00%.

One of the advantages of a cash account is that you can use this account to pay your bills and there are no limits on the number of withdrawals per month. They also offer a whopping $1.25m to $3m FDIC coverage. They have higher FDIC coverage because they split up your assets and deposit them for you into four or more separate banks. 

Good cash accounts are mostly offered by robo advisors like Wealthfront & BettermentVanguard also has a new pilot Cash Plus Account: 4.70%. 

As of May 1, 2024, cash account rates are about 3.75% to 5.00%.

>> Don’t forget to download the ‘Where Should My Next Dollar Go?’ guide if you haven’t already. 

 

4. Ultra Short-Term Bond ETFs

Ultra Short-Term Bond ETFs are exchange-traded funds that invest in a diversified portfolio of fixed-income securities with maturities of less than one year. They are high-quality bonds issued by the government and companies.

One of the advantages of ultra-short-term bond ETFs is their liquidity. These funds can be bought and sold throughout the day on an exchange. Another advantage is that they tend to have lower expense ratios than actively managed funds, so investors can keep more of their returns.  Also, the rates are usually slightly higher than money market funds or high-yield savings accounts.

The main downside of short-term bond ETFs is price fluctuations and potential risk. They carry some degree of credit and interest rate risk. Credit risk refers to the possibility that the issuer of the debt security may default on its obligations and interest rate risk refers to the possibility that interest rate changes may negatively impact the value of the bond. However, they are less susceptible to interest rate fluctuations than longer-term bond funds.

As of May 1, 2024, the current ultra short-term bond ETF rates are:

  • Vanguard: 5.18%
  • Fidelity: 5.21%

5. Brokered CDs

Brokered CDs, or certificates of deposit,  are a safe and secure way to earn a guaranteed return on your investment. They are similar to traditional CDs but they are bought and sold through a brokerage firm rather than a bank. This means that you must open a brokerage account with Vanguard or Fidelity if you want to purchase brokered CDs.

Brokered CDs are available in various terms ranging from a few months to several years. They typically offer higher interest rates than savings accounts or money market accounts. They are also FDIC-insured for up to $250,000.

The main downside of brokered CDs is that you need to lock up your money for several months. Brokered CDs also come with some risk. The value may fluctuate with changes in interest rates and market conditions. Investments may also be subject to capital gains or losses if they sell before maturity.

As of May 1, 2024, the interest rate is 5.45% for 10-12 month maturity terms.

brokered cds may 2024


6. Treasury Bills

Treasury bills, also known as T-bills, are short-term government bonds that mature in less than a year. They are considered one of the safest investments because they are backed by the US government. T-bills offer competitive returns and they are a tax-efficient investment. The interest earned is exempt from state and local income taxes.

When you purchase T-Bills, you purchase them at a discount from their face value. For example, if the face value you get upon maturity is $2,000, you might buy it for $1,900.

The main downside is that you must lock up your money for several months. You can purchase T-Bills directly from the Treasury Direct website or through a brokerage firm such as Vanguard or Fidelity. They are typically sold in $1,000 increments.

As of May 1, 2024, the current T-bill rates are:

  • > 5.39% for 4 to 6 months 

t bills may 2024

What to look for in a short-term investment

When you are looking for a short-term investment, there are several things to consider. Some of these include:

  • Low Risk. If you need the money soon, then you can’t assume much risk. While no investments are entirely risk-free, you may want to choose investments that have a relatively low risk of losing value. 
  • Return: You want to maximize your return on investment. However, higher returns usually come with higher risk. Look for investments that have a decent return but are still relatively safe. 
  • Liquidity. Look for investments that are easy to buy and sell quickly. Many short-term investment options allow you to access your money immediately, although some charge a penalty for early withdrawal.
  • Stability. If you need your cash within the next 12 months, you don’t want to invest in volatile stocks. You won’t have the time to ride out the volatility. 
  • Low Transaction Costs. The more frequently you move money in and out of an investment, the faster transaction costs add up.

best short term investments 2024

The pros and cons of the different short-term investment options

InvestmentsProsCons
High-yield savings accountSafe and insured by the FDIC

Very liquid

Can be used to pay bills
Lower returns than other investments

Some banks have minimum balance requirements

Inflation can outrun your gains over time

You can typically only make up to 6 withdrawals per month
Money market accountsVery liquid

Very low risk
Cannot be used to pay bills

Need to open a brokerage account
Cash accountsVery liquid

You can use this to pay your bills

Insured by the FDIC for over $1 million

No limit on the number of withdrawals per month
You must have a brokerage account

Under certain circumstances, your money may be moved to a non-FDIC-insured bank
Ultra short-term bond ETFsLower risk than other ETFs

High liquidity

Trading flexibility

Dividend yield

Low expense ratios
There is some risk involved

Takes 3 days to settle after you sell
Brokered CDsSafe and insured by the FDIC

Wide range of maturities available

Returns are locked in
Low liquidity

You need to lock your money up for several months

Potential penalty if you withdraw early
Treasury BillsBacked by the full faith and credit of the United States government

Wide range of maturities available

Returns are locked in

Generally exempt from local and state taxes
You need to lock your money up for several months

Potential for penalty if you withdraw early

Is there anything that I should know before investing for the short term?

Before you decide on your short-term investing strategy it’s important to think of your goals and risk tolerance. Long-term investing is the key to building your wealth over time. However, there are times when a short-term investment strategy is best, such as when you need access to cash quickly, for building emergency savings, or for saving for a near-term liability such as a down payment for a house or tuition payments. 

What is the highest-yield short-term investment as of May 2024?

As of May 1, 2024, the highest yield short-term investment is a 10-12 month Brokered CD. The rate is 5.45%. 

What is the best short-term investment as of May 2024?

Treasuries are often a better investment than CDs for most people. Whether that’s the case depends on your tax situation, something we’ll explain below. Treasury bills, notes, and bonds are widely considered risk-free investments, because the U.S. government has never defaulted on its debt.

In order to get the best ROI, it’s crucial to compare the tax-equivalent yield of treasuries to those of CDs and other investments. Interest earned from treasuries is exempt from state and local taxes, a factor to consider when evaluating other short-term investment options.

To determine the tax-equivalent yield based on your tax situation, you can use the Tax-Equivalent Yield Calculator. For example, a T-Bill yielding 5.18% is equivalent to a CD yielding a very high 5.94%, for a single filer earning $170k in Maryland, or a married couple filing jointly with $300k income in Maryland.

treasury vs brokered cd

Therefore, although a 10-12 month Brokered CD may offer the highest yield before taxes in May 2024, Treasury securities tend to provide the highest yield after taxes (depending on a person’s tax situation).

What are the benefits of short-term investing? 

Some benefits of short-term investing include:

  • Quick returns
  • High flexibility
  • High liquidity
  • Typically lower risk than long-term investments.

Overview of the best short-term investments in 2024

Investment TypeSafetyLiquidityAverage Rate (as of February 2, 2024)
High-yield savings accountsHighHigh4.35% - 5.05%
Money market accountsHighHigh4.99% - 5.28%
Cash accountsHighHigh3.75% - 5.00%
Ultra short-term bond ETFsMediumHigh5.18% - 5.21%
Brokered CDsHighLow5.35% - 5.45%
Treasury BillsHighLow5.22% - 5.39%

What is the biggest risk of short-term investments? 

The greatest risk of short-term investments is that you lose out on higher interest rates while your money is tied up in a timed product like T-Bills or brokered CDs.

Where can I invest $10,000 for one year?

Where to invest $10,000 for one year will depend on your goals and overall financial strategy. We have outlined many short-term investments that may be suitable. However, it’s best to consult with a financial advisor to determine the best investment strategy for you. 

Where should I invest my money for 3 months?

We have outlined many options to invest your money short-term and the decision is entirely up to you. If you don’t want to lock your money up for any term, then a high-yield savings account or a money market account may be best for you. If you don’t need that money until after 3 months then you might want to invest in a 3-month brokered CD or T-bill.

Is a short-term investment an asset?

Yes, a short-term investment is an asset. These investments are typically considered liquid assets as they can be sold quickly and easily for cash if needed.

Short-term investing in 2024

Short-term investing can be an excellent way to earn a decent return on your money without the long-term commitments of other investments. Whether you choose a high-yield savings account, money market account, cash account, ultra short-term bond ETFs, brokered CDs, or T-bills, it’s important to do your research and choose an investment that aligns with your short-term financial goals and risk tolerance.

If you’re not sure which one of these you should use for your short-term investments, and you’re interested in maximizing your money through a comprehensive financial plan, consider hiring a fiduciary financial planner. Schedule a free discovery call with one of our financial advisors today!

Best Financial Planner Washington DC

Alvin Carlos, CFP®, CFA is an investment advisor and fee-only financial planner, in Washington, D.C that works with clients across the country. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations from SAIS-Johns Hopkins. Alvin is a partner of District Capital, a financial planning firm designed to help professionals in their 30s and 40s achieve their financial goals through smart investing, reducing taxes, retirement planning, and maximizing their money. Schedule a free discovery call to learn how we can help elevate your finances.

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District Capital is an independent, fee-only financial planning firm. We help professionals and entrepreneurs in their 30s and 40s elevate their finances and maximize their money. We are based in Washington, D.C and we work with people virtually nationwide.

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