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how to: invest your money

Saving money and learning about investing is always a smart plan. Even if you’re newly hitched, it’s never too soon to start planning for those golden years. Think about it: Do you imagine yourselves lying on a beach or working behind a desk? If you picked the beach (or travel, or golf, or anything other than the 9-to-5 grind), you’ve come to the right place. We have all kinds of investment advice, including the basics of how to invest wisely and what all those financial terms really mean. Not sure where to begin? Start with our five easy steps to invest your money. We also have investing advice and Q&A on all kinds of financial basics about investing -- learn the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA, how to invest your savings, and your options if you can only invest a small amount. Our basic investing advice will help you get ready. But before you invest your money, you should be sure you’re out of debt: Use our debt calculator to help plan your payments, and follow our simple steps to go from credit card misery to debt free. And if your problem is a lack of cash, we’ve got tips for you, too. Learn the habits of spending-savvy couples, and find easy ways to save more of each month’s paycheck and stick to your budget. Don’t want to go it alone? Check out our local pages to find a financial planner in your area for some in-person investment advice.

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Q.

The Nest Q&A

We'll be getting more than $9,000 as a bonus. What are some smart ways to use this money?

A.

What a terrific financial dilemma! Here are a few ideas that don't involve going on a massive shopping spree in Beverly Hills:

NIX BAD DEBT. Tackle credit card debt pronto. Some debt is healthy, like a mortgage or student loan, but you should pay down other interest payments that are above the market rate.

SAVE FOR RETIREMENT. Contribute to or open a Roth IRA. If you and your spouse together earn $159,000 or less annually, you can add up to $5,000 each. Or invest the money in your 401(k)—the maximum amount is $15,000.

SOCK IT AWAY. Opt to put it in an interest-bearing money market account so you'll have emergency funds.

LET IT GROW. Watch your bonus expand over time in the financial markets. Talk to a professional adviser for a personalized plan.