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Higher interest rates are here, and that makes these vanilla investments compelling

For investors who are weary of this year’s volatility in stocks and bonds, a stable corner of finance is starting to look enticing. The Federal Reserve just hiked interest rates by 0.75 percentage point , and Fed Chair Jerome Powell has suggested a similar increase could be ahead in July. Recession fears have also put investors on edge, with the S & P 500 down nearly 23% for the year, and bond yields spiking to multiyear highs just last week. Suddenly Treasury bills or T-bills, Series I savings bonds and high-yield savings accounts are looking hot – at least for a slice of your holdings. “For the portion of your portfolio you need to keep safe, cash assets are looking more attractive,” said Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Morningstar. When picking out the right “safe” asset, investors must compromise between three priorities: yield, stability and liquidity, she said. “If people want to think of those three things on their dashboard, that can help determine where to look and which instruments to favor.” Choosing your safe haven Though longer-term bonds have been suffering as rates rise, high-quality shorter-term issues – such as T-bills – are starting to look promising, said Charles Failla, certified financial planner and principal at Sovereign Financial Group. Laddering these instruments entails buying issues with different maturities in the same portfolio. Three to six-month T-bills, available on TreasuryDirect.gov , can also be an attractive place to stash cash as interest rates rise. Rates on three-month T-bills are roughly 1.6%, while six-month T-bills offer a rate of about 2.2% as of June 17 . Allan Roth, founder of Wealth Logic, said he is still recommending the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund ETF (BND) , along with 2-year Treasury notes . “If you buy longer-term bonds, it might work out fine, but you’ll have more interest rate risk without more reward,” he said. Municipal bonds may also be a possibility for investors who are seeking tax-free income; they’re exempt from federal taxes and – if the buyer lives in the state where the bond is issued – state taxes. “Even if the municipal bond pays nominally less than similar quality corporate bonds, the fact is that the income comes to you tax-free,” said Failla. Series I savings bonds, which are also available on TreasuryDirect.gov, are currently offering an interest rate of 9.62%. These bonds are also inflation protected, and they’re exempt from state and local income taxes. Here’s the catch: You can cash them after one year, but you’ll lose the last three months of interest if you redeem them before five years. “You wouldn’t want the whole amount in I-bonds,” said Benjamin Brandt, CFP and founder of Capital City Wealth Management. He recommends it as an “intermediate time frame asset” for clients who have a surplus amount saved for emergencies and are comfortable with locking up a small amount of that in an I-bond. Finding liquidity Certificates of deposit are another possibility, but there is typically a penalty for “breaking” the CD ahead of its maturity. If you want ready access to your cash, a high-yield savings account might do the trick. Indeed, banks like Discover, Capital One and Barclays are offering yields of about 0.9% on their online savings accounts, according to Bankrate.com . A select few, such as Citizens Access are offering 1.25%, but you’ll need to deposit at least $5,000. Just be sure to read the fine print. “Teaser rates are something to watch out for,” said Benz. “Make sure there aren’t any strings attached to whatever yield you’re seeing.”

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