Take advantage of rising rates
5 Tips: Stocks are down, but rates are up ... that spells opportunity.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Since the Fed has started raising interest rates, we're seeing a lot of different investment opportunities in the market.
If you're worried about your investments...everything from your emergency fund to your retirement account, 5 Tips is going to tell you how to take advantage of these opportunities.
1: Don't be asleep at the wheel
If your bank savings account isn't yielding you at least 4.5 percent on your money, you need to investigate other banks. "A lot of people don't realize that even though the interest rate is rising, banks don't automatically raise the rate on your bank account," says Doug Flynn of Flynn Zito Management.
Unfortunately walking into the nearest bank won't get you the best rates. You'll get a much better deal if you bank by the Internet because there's not as much overhead as a brick and mortar bank.
2: Hands off your 401(k)
The stock market has performed miserably recently. This week we saw the Dow test levels not seen in three months. But that doesn't mean you need to short change your stock allocation. As long as you're diversified, you should be just fine. Let market watchers and economists worry about inflation and interest rate outlook.
You should be in the stock market when it's at a depressed level, especially if you're in it long term. Investing with your emotions will hardly yield results.
3: Protect your Emergency Fund
Make sure your emergency fund is protected by investing in money market accounts. These glorified bank accounts are very attractive cash investments right now according to Flynn. Yields are over 5% compared to rates in 2003 which were at 0.6%. If you open a money market account at a bank, they're FDIC insured.
The best times to get into one of these accounts is when rates are rising so you can take advantage. You should think about investing in a money market especially if you are saving up for something big, like a down payment on a home within the next year.
Make sure you read the fine print. Most accounts require you have a minimum dollar amount and there may be limitations on how many transactions you can make per month
4: Catch the CD fever
If you have a longer term goal that you're saving for, you may want to consider investing in Certificates of Deposit. Money in retail certificates of deposit was more than $1 trillion this year. That's up more than 20% from 2004. And the yields on short-term CDs are the highest they've been in 5 years. The downside to CDs is that your money is tied up for a specific amount of time. But rates on a one-year CD, as high as 5.27%, are comparable to rates for a 5-year CD.
"A year or two ago, you would have to lock up your money for 5 years to get the same return you're seeing now," says Flynn. To compare the highest-yielding CD rates, go Bankrate.com.
5: Get into bonds
If you think the Fed is done raising rates, you may want to invest in bond funds. Bond funds can include Treasury bills, corporate bonds, mortgage securities and junk bonds. Generally yields are about 4.5%.
A word of caution...watch out for all the fees.
"Expenses can mean the difference between a winner and a dud," says Scott Berry of Morningstar.com. For low-cost bond investing, you'll want to check out Vanguard. Their total bond market index fund has only about 0.02% in fees, but the 10 year average return is over 6%.
You can't go wrong with Fidelity either, according to Berry. "Costs may be a little higher, but it's top notch management," says Berry.
To check out these bond funds, go to www.vanguard.com or www.fidelity.com.
Gerri Willis is a personal finance editor for CNN Business News and the host for Open House. Send your questions, your comments and your own ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.