The 5 Safest Low Risk Investments of 2024

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Many investors favor low-risk investments because they can provide stable and predictable returns with minimal potential for loss.

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While the returns on low-risk investments may be lower compared to high-risk options, they play an essential role in a well-rounded investment portfolio by reducing overall risk and providing a buffer against market volatility.

Safest Low-Risk Investments of 2024:

  • Certificate of Deposits
  • Treasury Securities
  • Money Market Funds
  • Agency and GSE Bonds
  • Municipal Bonds

What Are Low-Risk Investments?

A low-risk investment is characterized primarily by its stability, predictable returns, and lower volatility compared to higher-risk assets. These investments are often sought by individuals who prioritize the preservation of capital and a steady income over the potential for high returns, which often come with increased risk.

Characteristics of low-risk investments include:

  1. Stability: Low-risk investments maintain their value over time, exhibiting minimal price fluctuations. This stability is crucial for investors who need certainty in the value of their investments, like retirees or those close to meeting their financial goals.
  2. Predictable Returns: These investments typically offer fixed or predictable returns, making them easier to incorporate into financial planning. Examples include bonds with fixed interest rates or dividend-paying stocks from well-established companies with a consistent history of payout.
  3. Lower Volatility: Unlike high-risk investments, which can experience significant and rapid price changes, low-risk investments tend to have lower volatility. This means that their prices do not fluctuate dramatically, which helps protect the principal amount invested.

Low-risk investments are essential to a diversified portfolio, especially for those with a shorter investment timeline or lower risk tolerance.

Low-Risk Investment Options

Some of the most popular low-risk investment options include Certificates of Deposit, Treasury Securities, Money Market Funds, Agency/GSE Bonds, and Municipal Bonds. Each investment option offers unique benefits that can help your overall investment strategy.

1. Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are time-bound deposit accounts offered by banks that provide a fixed interest rate over a specified term.

When you purchase a CD, you agree to leave a lump sum of money deposited with the bank for a fixed period, which could range from a few months to several years. In exchange, the bank pays you interest at regular intervals or at maturity, depending on the terms of the CD.

Once the CD matures, you receive the original amount deposited plus any accrued interest.

Why They Are Considered Low-Risk Investments

  1. FDIC Insurance: CDs are considered low risk primarily because they are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank. This insurance protects the principal and any accrued interest, even if the issuing bank fails.
  2. Fixed Interest Rates: CDs provide a fixed interest rate for the duration of the term, which means the return is predictable and not subject to the fluctuations seen in the stock market or other higher-risk investments. This fixed rate guarantees a known return as long as the CD is held to maturity.
  3. No Volatility: Unlike stocks and other market-linked investments, CDs do not fluctuate in value. The safety and predictability of receiving a guaranteed return make them a preferred choice for conservative investors.

Overall, CDs are a suitable investment for those looking for a safe place to park their money while earning interest with virtually no risk of losing their principal, provided the amounts are within the FDIC insurance limits. They are particularly appealing during periods of economic uncertainty or when market volatility is high.

2. Treasury Securities

Treasury securities are debt instruments issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to finance government spending as authorized by Congress.

They are widely regarded as one of the safest investments because they are backed by the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. government. These securities come in several forms, and be either short term or long term investments.

  • Treasury Bills (T-Bills): Short-term securities that mature in one year or less. They do not pay interest periodically. Instead, they are sold at a discount to their face value, and the profit to the investor is the difference between the purchase price and the amount paid at maturity.
  • Treasury Notes (T-Notes): Medium-term securities that mature between two and ten years. T-notes pay interest every six months and return the principal, the face value, at maturity.
  • Treasury Bonds (T-Bonds): Long-term investments with terms longer than ten years, up to 30 years. Like T-notes, T-bonds pay interest every six months and return the principal at maturity.
  • Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS): These are similar to T-notes and T-bonds but offer protection against inflation. The principal value of TIPS increases with inflation and decreases with deflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Interest payments vary with the adjusted principal value of the bond.

Why They Are Considered Low-Risk Investments:

  1. Government Backing: The primary reason Treasury securities are considered low-risk is that they are backed by the U.S. government, which has the power to raise taxes and print money to fulfill its obligations. This makes the likelihood of default extremely low.
  2. Liquidity: Treasury securities are highly liquid, meaning they can be easily bought and sold in the financial markets.
  3. Predictable Returns: Investors in Treasury securities know exactly how much they will receive and when, whether in terms of fixed interest payments or the face value at maturity. This predictability is a key aspect of their appeal as low-risk investments.
  4. Inflation Protection: Securities like TIPS protect against inflation, reducing the risk of eroding purchasing power, which is a concern in fixed-income investments during periods of rising prices.

Given these characteristics, Treasury securities are often used as a benchmark for assessing the risk of other investments and are a cornerstone of conservative investment portfolios, particularly suitable for risk-averse investors and those seeking a safe place to park their money.

3. Money Market Funds

Money market funds are a type of mutual fund designed to offer investors high liquidity with a very low level of risk. They invest in short-term, high-quality debt securities, including treasury bills, commercial paper, certificates of deposit, and repurchase agreements. These funds aim to maintain a stable net asset value (NAV) of $1 per share, making them an appealing choice for investors seeking a safe place to park cash or manage their short-term investment needs.

Why They Are Considered Low-Risk Investments:

  1. High-Quality Securities: Money market funds invest primarily in top-rated debt securities that have a high credit rating. These investments are considered safe because they involve short maturities and are highly liquid, reducing the risk of loss.
  2. Diversification: By pooling funds from many investors, money market funds can diversify across many different high-quality securities, further reducing the risk. Diversification helps mitigate the impact of any single security’s poor performance on the overall fund.
  3. Regulatory Standards: In the United States, money market funds are regulated under the Investment Company Act of 1940, and more specifically by rules under amendments aimed at improving their resilience and stability. These regulations include maintaining liquidity requirements and quality standards.
  4. Stable NAV: Money market funds strive to keep their NAV stable at $1 per share through various strategies, including managing the maturities of the investments to offset fluctuations. This stability is crucial for investors looking for security and predictability in their investment returns.
  5. Liquidity: Money market funds offer high liquidity, allowing investors to quickly and easily withdraw their money at any time without significant penalties. This makes them an excellent option for managing cash reserves.

Due to these features, money market funds are considered a safe investment compared to stocks and other higher-risk securities. They are a popular choice among conservative investors or those who need a temporary place to hold funds while deciding on other long-term investment options. They provide a useful balance between earning a modest return and maintaining access to funds, all while preserving capital.

4. Agency Bonds and GSE Bonds

Agency bonds and GSE (Government-Sponsored Enterprise) bonds are types of debt securities issued by either federal government agencies or government-sponsored enterprises in the United States. While both are similar, they are distinct in terms of the backing and specific purposes for which they are issued.

  1. Agency Bonds: These are issued by government agencies and typically have a specific purpose related to public policy, such as funding mortgages, agriculture, or education. Examples include bonds issued by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae).
  2. GSE Bonds: These are issued by government-sponsored enterprises, which are privately owned but chartered by the government to provide a public service. Prominent GSEs include the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). These entities primarily focus on stimulating the housing market by making mortgages more available and affordable.

Why They Are Considered Low-Risk Investments:

  1. Government Affiliation: Both agency and GSE bonds are closely linked to the U.S. government, which provides a layer of security. Bonds issued by agencies like Ginnie Mae are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, guaranteeing the payment of interest and principal. While GSE bonds are not full-fledged government obligations, they are often perceived as having implicit government backing, which significantly lowers their risk compared to purely private sector bonds.
  2. High Credit Quality: Due to their government affiliation and role in public policy, these bonds typically receive high credit ratings. This reflects a strong capacity to meet financial commitments and a low probability of default.
  3. Stable Returns: Like other government-related bonds, agency and GSE bonds provide stable and predictable returns. Investors receive regular interest payments based on the terms of the bond, typically at fixed rates.
  4. Liquidity: Agency and GSE bonds are widely traded in secondary markets, providing liquidity that is attractive to investors. This means they can be bought and sold relatively easily without significant price discounts.
  5. Market Confidence: The perceived government backing and the essential public services they help finance (like housing) contribute to strong market confidence in these securities, further reducing their risk profile.

While agency and GSE bonds offer slightly lower yields compared to some higher-risk securities, their safety features make them a preferred option for conservative investors seeking steady, low-risk income streams. They provide an excellent balance between the higher risk of corporate bonds and the lower yields of Treasury securities, making them a staple in diversified investment portfolios.

5. Municipal Bonds

Municipal bonds, commonly referred to as “munis,” are debt securities issued by states, cities, counties, and other governmental entities to fund day-to-day obligations and to finance public projects like schools, highways, sewer systems, and other infrastructure projects. These bonds are available in two primary forms:

  1. General Obligation Bonds: These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing municipality, which has the authority to tax residents to pay bondholders.
  2. Revenue Bonds: Unlike general obligation bonds, revenue bonds are not backed by the government’s taxing power but by the revenues from specific projects or sources, such as toll roads, utilities, or airports.

Why They Are Considered Low Risk:

  1. Taxing Authority and Revenue Generation: General obligation bonds are considered low risk because they are supported by the taxing authority of the issuing body, ensuring that there are means available to pay the interest and principal. Revenue bonds, while slightly riskier, are generally secured by predictable revenue streams from the funded projects.
  2. Tax Advantages: The interest income from municipal bonds is often exempt from federal income tax and, in many cases, from state and local taxes if the holder lives in the state where the bond was issued. This tax exemption reduces the taxable equivalent yield, making them particularly attractive to investors in higher tax brackets.
  3. Default Rates: Historically, municipal bonds have very low default rates compared to corporate bonds, particularly those that are rated investment grade. This historical resilience adds to their appeal as a low-risk investment.
  4. Credit Ratings: Most municipal bonds are rated by credit rating agencies, and high-rated bonds (e.g., AAA, AA) are considered very secure, further reducing the perceived risk.
  5. Regulation and Transparency: The municipal bond market is regulated, requiring issuances to include detailed disclosures about the bond’s financial health and risks involved. This transparency helps investors make informed decisions, contributing to the overall safety of these investments.

Municipal bonds are favored by conservative investors, especially those seeking steady income with tax benefits, while also contributing to the financing of public services and infrastructure that benefit society.

Adam Koprucki

Expertise: Fixed-income investing, Macroeconomics, Personal Finance, Derivatives, Options, Index Funds

Professional Experience: J.P. Morgan, Deloitte Consulting, Societe Generale, The Vanguard Group

Education: Loyola University: Bachelor of Business Administration, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Certificate in Capital Markets

Adam Koprucki is the founder of Real World Investor, an investing website dedicated to reviewing the newest and latest investing tools and providing unique market insights for beginner to intermediate investors.

Before starting Real World Investor, he spent over a decade working at some of the world's largest investment banks and investment managers, such as Citibank, J.P. Morgan, Societe Generale, Deloitte, and The Vanguard Group.

His experience includes working with complex financial products such as exotic interest rate derivatives, structured products, and structured credit.

A dedicated and enthusiastic investor, he is passionate about macroeconomics and options trading. His investing insights have been published on Investopedia, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, GoBankingRates, Nasdaq, and Bigger Pockets.

He is also a contributing author at