Investing 101: Types Of Investments

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Think of the various types of investments as tools that can help you achieve your financial goals. Each broad investment type—from bank products to stocks and bonds—has its own general set of features, risk factors and ways in which they can be used by investors. Banks and credit unions can provide a safe and convenient way to accumulate savings—and some banks offer services that can help you manage your money. Checking and savings accounts offer liquidity and flexibility.

Find out more about these and other bank products. Learn how corporate, muni, agency, Treasury and other types of bonds work. Learn more about your choices—from penny-stocks to large caps and more. Funds—such as mutual funds, closed-end funds and exchange-traded funds—pool money from many investors and invest it according to a specific investment strategy.

Funds can offer diversification, professional management and a wide variety of investment strategies stocks options and mutual funds invest styles.

But not all funds are the same. Understand how they work, and research fund fees and expenses. An annuity is stocks options and mutual funds invest contract between you and an insurance company, in which the company promises to make periodic payments, either starting immediately—called an immediate annuity—or at some future time—a deferred annuity.

Learn about the different types of annuities. Funding college begins with savings, starting with how much to save. Numerous types of investments come into play when saving for retirement and managing income once you retire.

For saving, tax-advantaged retirement options such as a k or an IRA can be a smart choice. Managing retirement income may require moving stocks options and mutual funds invest of certain investments and into ones that are better suited to a retirement lifestyle.

Options are contracts that give the purchaser the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a security, such as a stock or exchange-traded fund, at a fixed price within a specific period of time. It pays to learn about different types of options, trading strategies and the risks involved. Commodity futures contracts are agreements to buy or sell a specific quantity of a commodity at a specified price on a particular date in the future.

Commodities include metals, oil, grains and animal products, as well as financial instruments and currencies. With limited exceptions, trading in futures contracts must be executed on the floor of a commodity exchange.

Federal regulations permit trading in futures contracts on single stocks, also known as single stock futures, and certain security indices. Learn more about security futures, how they differ from stock options and the risks they can pose. These products include notes with principal protection and high-yield bonds that have lower credit ratings and higher risk of default than traditional investments, but offer more attractive rates of return.

Learn about stocks options and mutual funds invest features, risks and potential advantages. Life insurance products come in various forms, including term life, whole life and universal life policies.

There also are variations on these—variable life insurance and variable universal life—which are considered securities. See how insurance products may fit into an overall financial plan. Learn more about the various types of investments below. Alternative and Complex Products.

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