The selling point for a money market savings account has always been safety and stability. Because of the recent downturn in the stock market plus a general skittishness after the global crisis, some people are falling back on banks as the safest place to put savings. Before you join the trend, however, consider this: banks are offering very low interest rates these days, so that after inflation and taxes, the value of your money will actually decrease over time.
Everyone wants safety, but is an account that loses money safe? While money markets are still considered to be safe-bet investments, they are actually little better than putting your money in a mattress. If we define a safe investment as one that protects your money while providing for at least some positive growth, than a money market savings account falls short.
History shows us that downturns in the stock market come and go. Also historically speaking, the harder it falls, the higher it gets back up again. While savings accounts seem like a safe harbor in a storm, what they really do is to take your money out of circulation just at the wrong time. Sometimes we all have to cut our losses and run, but the smart money stays in the game if it can.
One helpful way to avoid the stress that causes so many to run for the hills is to always remember that investing is a long term affair. Investment money should be savings that you do not expect to need for 10 years at least. By only risking money that falls into this category any investor can relax and calmly wait out fluctuations in the market.
Statistics prove that a diversified portfolio that includes a strong base of safe investments will usually offer growth over the long term. It is common for popular stocks to turn around and experience growth even after long periods of low activity or downturns. It is the nature of the stock market to go up and down and then up again, and the patient investor will most often be the one who is in the right place when the tide turns.
A money market savings account will always be less volatile than the open market, but in exchange your money remains inactive. Added risk is the price of higher returns, but averages show that the benefits usually outweigh the risk. By following the 10-year rule and only using money that you can afford to leave alone, investing in the stock market is still the best way to make your money work for you. One thing is sure: risk nothing and you gain nothing. Money markets are “safe,” but they offer no dynamic growth, and they will not allow your money to reach its full potential.