Updated May 27, 2023

The Best Way to Invest $30,000

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What can you do with $30k? Here are the best ways to invest your savings. Think about what it'll be worth in 20 years if you start now.

Saving $30,000 is a feat to be proud of. But having more money can be stressful if you don't know what to do with it.

Is your money sitting untouched in a checking account? If so, maximizing your earnings will be near impossible. You need to get it invested somewhere.

Don't worry -- there are plenty of ways to grow your money.

To help you decide, we'll show you smart ways to invest your money (and three to avoid).

Here are 12 strategies to make your $30k grow:

  1. Take advantage of the stock market
  2. Invest in mutual funds or ETFs
  3. Invest in bonds
  4. Invest in CDs
  5. Fill a savings account
  6. Try peer-to-peer lending
  7. Start your own business
  8. Start a blog or a podcast
  9. Consider real estate investing
  10. Try fulfillment by Amazon
  11. Fix up your home
  12. Invest in yourself

What would you do with a $30,000 windfall?

Am I Ready to Start Investing?

Before investing, figure out whether it makes sense for your financial situation. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have a lot of personal debt?
  • Do I have a 401(k)?
  • Do I have an IRA?

You'll put yourself in a better position to invest if you tackle these first:

Pay Down Your Debts
Paying down debts can be just as profitable as investing and healthier for your finances in the long run.

Let's say you can get a 5% rate of return on your investment portfolio, but you have $30,000 in credit card debt with a 23% APR. If you focus on your portfolio instead of putting those funds toward credit card debt, you would end up paying more in interest and losing money.

If you have over $10,000 in debt, debt relief companies such as National Debt Relief may help.

Rate of return is the profit off an investment. Banks write it as a percentage. If you make $50 on a $1,000 investment, your rate of return is 5%.

Some low-interest debt, like a home mortgage, is OK to hold while making investments. You'll have low monthly payments with a low interest rate, which frees up your money to invest. Plus, your home itself is an investment that grows in value over time. That's why some people call it "healthy" debt.

Plan for Retirement
If you have your debt under control, make sure you're on track to meet your retirement goals. Join your employer's 401(k) plan. Check with your company to see what percentage they match. You should contribute at least that amount. If not, you're turning away free money offered by your employer.

401(k) Company Match
Some employers vest their contribution to your 401(k). This means you'll have to work a certain amount of time to receive their match. But you'll get all the contributions you make, regardless of how long you work at the company.

Consider contributing the maximum amount to your 401(k), even if your company doesn't match. You'll save more for retirement while lowering your taxable income.

A traditional IRA or Roth IRA can also supplement your long-term savings.

With a traditional IRA, you can deduct the amount you contribute from your annual taxable income. You can't deduct that amount with a Roth IRA, but you can withdraw the money after retirement without being taxed.

You have other retirement savings options if you're self-employed. These include starting a 401(k) or a SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) IRA. Check with a tax professional to review your options.

Once your debt is under control and your retirement plan is on track, you can explore our list of the best ways to invest $30,000.

Which investment is best for you?

If you have…Try investing in…Recommended
Less than 5 yearsCertificates of Deposit (CDs)Quontic Bank
5 to 10 yearsStocksWebull
More than 10 yearsMutual funds/ETFsAlly Invest

Smart Ways to Invest $30,000

Now that you're ready to grow your money, here are some great ways you could invest $30,000:

  1. Invest in Stocks
    You can use an online brokerage account, like Ally Invest, to trade stocks. Look for companies with easy-to-use interface and resources for new investors.

    Take your time to learn about each company and what they have to offer. Familiarize yourself with the news, stock performance histories, and professional forecasts. You can even practice trading online without actually investing money.

    When you feel comfortable, choose one or two stocks that you're familiar with. Make sure the investment matches your risk tolerance. And remember to start small until you feel comfortable with the process.

    Losing or gaining money can be emotional. To avoid making rash decisions in the heat of the moment, set a plan and stick to it. Decide the amount you want to invest and know how much you're willing to lose.

    Understanding Risk
    It's important to know the possible risks before choosing the right investment for you. These risks include market risk, business risk, political risk, and liquidity risk.

    The higher the reward, the higher risk. If you take a loss, weigh the risks again to decide whether to pull your investment.

    Thinking of investing in stocks? Take a look at Motley Fool Stock Advisor's latest recommendations.

  2. Invest in Mutual Funds or ETFs
    Instead of investing in one company like with stocks, mutual funds and ETFs let you diversify between stocks, bonds, and other short-term investments. That way, you can invest in many securities all at once.

    Ally Invest, Robinhood, and TD Ameritrade are some of the most popular brokerages. See How to Invest Money for more detail.

    You can use an index fund for longer-term goals like retirement. These funds match a specific market index, such as the S&P 500. The idea is that these funds will closely mimic market returns. They require very little management and often have lower fees.

  3. Invest in Bonds
    Bonds are loans made to big organizations. You can invest in them like you would with stocks, but they tend to be more predictable than stocks (read our guide for more information about the differences between stocks and bonds).

    There are three main types of bonds:

    • Corporate, which are issued by corporations and have the highest risk
    • Municipal, which are issued by towns and cities and have less risk but lower returns
    • Treasury, or T-bonds, which are issued by the government and have the lowest risk and lowest returns

    Bonds have different ratings based on the credit of the issuer. You can calculate your return on a bond before you buy it, based on its rate and period of maturity.

    As with any investment, bonds carry some risk. When interest rates rise, bond prices fall. So, if you sell a bond before its maturity date, you could make less than the price you paid.

    Most bonds must be purchased through a broker, but T-bonds can be bought directly from the government.

  4. Invest in CDs
    If you're looking for something with less risk and decent returns, try investing in CDs. For higher interest rates, go with an online bank instead of a traditional bank like Chase.

    The longer you invest your money in a CD, the higher the APY (annual percentage yield). The APY is also usually higher on accounts with a higher required minimum.

  5. Fill an Online Savings Account
    The savings account at your local bank where you have a checking account probably offers measly returns. But you could get rates that are up to 10 times higher with an online savings account.

    An example of an account with a high APY is CIT Bank's Platinum Savings. Take a look at our CIT promo code page to learn more.

    Before you invest, make sure the FDIC insures the bank. Read the fine print regarding withdrawals and account minimums. Some banks charge withdrawal fees. Make sure you can access your money when you need it. If you want a debit card, check that the bank offers it.

    Savings Calculator

  6. Try Peer-to-Peer Lending
    Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a somewhat new way to invest. It's a good choice if you don't want to deal with a bank. You can connect with borrowers all over the world by becoming a lender on a P2P platform.

    With P2P lending, you'll see a high rate of return with low risk. Prosper is one of the most popular P2P platforms. They work as a middleman between you and the borrower.

    They'll help you by funding the loans after you pay them, collecting payments, and taking legal action if the borrower defaults. You can diversify your risk by splitting your money up between multiple borrowers with low borrowing needs.

  7. Start Your Own Business
    If you want to be your own boss and break out of your 9-to-5 job, you could try investing money in your own business. But make sure you have a solid plan before you even consider starting your own business.

    Make sure you get all the help you can. Check out the Small Business Administration's website for advice. They have resources for both beginners and experienced business owners.

  8. Start a Blog or a Podcast
    Many people start a blog or podcast as a side gig. You can write when you have time and partner with businesses to make money. Blogs have the potential to make you a steady stream of income through advertising.

    Your $30,000 is more than enough to get you started. You'll be able to support yourself for a few months while you get your content going. You can use some of that money to get a domain name and web hosting service. You can also use it to invest in equipment like video recorders, microphones, cameras, or a better computer.

    The podcast world is increasingly difficult to break into, but there is still room to make money. You should be prepared to dedicate a lot of time and energy to producing regular content. If it's something you enjoy doing, you can try to monetize your podcast by selling ad time.

  9. Invest in Real Estate
    While you probably won't find many options for individual properties for less than $30,000, you can still invest in real estate through real estate investment trusts (REITs). You can invest in a share of a REIT just like you would invest in a stock.

    REITs make money from the rent collected from properties.

    You could also invest in real estate through online investing platforms such as Fundrise. The platform will build a portfolio of properties for you. You earn returns from dividends and property appreciation.

  10. Try Fulfillment by Amazon
    You can get into the retail business through Fulfillment by Amazon. You ship the items that you want to sell to Amazon, and they fulfill any orders you get and send them to the customer.

    Rates vary by the size of the packages and the amount of warehouse space you'll need. But $30,000 is plenty to get a small operation going.

    You'll get access to Amazon's large marketplace of buyers without having to do all the work involved with other selling sites. It almost provides immediate gratification. You can sell new or used items.

  11. Improve Your Home
    If your home is old or outdated, improvements and repairs can have a direct impact on your home's value.

    The changes don't have to be huge either. Major bathroom and kitchen remodel don't have a great return on investment. Smaller projects like new windows or new siding actually pay off better.

    If you make energy-efficient improvements to your house, you could even get a tax break for the new changes.[1]

  12. Invest $30,000 in Yourself
    You can use your savings to continue your education and improve your career and earning prospects. With some time and effort, you can turn your $30,000 into much larger earnings.

    • Take online courses: Learn or sharpen a skill with Udemy courses, webinars, or workshops. These can help you improve in your current job or get you started on a side job.

    • Find a mentor: Is there a businessman you look up to? Does your favorite web expert offer one-on-one coaching sessions via Skype? Getting advice from someone who has done it before is one of the best things you can do to find direction.

    • Get a personal trainer: It's important to invest in your health. Daily exercise gives you more energy and puts your health on the right track for years down the line.

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3 Investments to Avoid

Some types of "investments" aren't really investments at all. In fact, you could easily lose your $30,000 if you put it into a risky scheme.

Here are some examples of what to avoid when investing your money:

  • Penny Stocks
    Stocks that you can buy for less than $5 may seem like a great deal. After all, with $30,000, you could buy a lot of these shares and hopefully see massive profits. But more often, they're not profitable at all.

    Companies that offer penny stocks are usually very small companies that don't need to disclose their financials. They may be trying to raise capital to grow, but they're not always successful in the long run.

  • Pyramid Schemes
    You may have heard of businesses that promise to make you rich if you can recruit others to join them. If you're asked to pay to join a business with that type of model, be aware that it can't provide a win-win situation for everyone.

  • Gambling
    Yes, you could win big with gambling if you're lucky, but people rarely do. Statistically, you are much more likely to lose your money when you gamble. That's true whether you're playing in a casino or buying a lottery ticket. The odds are not in your favor. So while gambling may be entertaining, it's a poor investment choice.

Bottom Line

The sooner you can start to safely invest your funds, the more you can benefit from the returns.

Remember to review your finances to make sure you are in the best position to start investing. And avoid risky investments with empty promises like penny stocks and pyramid schemes that may not be what they seem.


  1. ^ ENERGY STAR. Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency, Retrieved 07/10/2024

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How to Invest Money

Tips for Investing
Invest smartly, even if you're new to the game. Discover how to begin investing in stocks and real estate with little money.
What would you do with a $30,000 windfall?
20% Save it in a savings account
13% Save it in a certificate of deposit
27% Invest in stocks
15% Invest in mutual funds
8% Invest in bonds
14% Start your own business
4% Take a vacation
Source: CreditDonkey poll of 1,325 respondents. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
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