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  • Nick Burgess

Climbing the CD Ladder: A (Slightly) Fun Way to Invest for the Risk-Averse

What Is a CD Ladder, and Why Would You Want One?

If you're a savvy saver, you might have heard of something called a CD ladder. But what exactly is it, and why would you want one? Well, buckle up, because we're about to take a wild ride into the world of CD ladders.

What is a Certificate of Deposit?

First things first: CD stands for "certificate of deposit." It's a type of savings account offered by banks and credit unions that pays a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account in exchange for you agreeing to keep your money in the account for a fixed period of time, usually between three months and five years.

Now, let's talk about ladders. No, not the kind you use to climb up to your roof to fix a leak (although those are important too). A CD ladder is a way to structure your CD investments so that you have a mix of short-term and long-term CDs, with the goal of maximizing your returns while still having access to some of your money at regular intervals.


How to Execute a CD Ladder

Here's how it works: let's say you have $10,000 that you want to save in CDs. Instead of putting all of your money into a single five-year CD, you could create a CD ladder by dividing your money into five equal parts and investing each part in a CD with a different term length.


For example, you might invest $2,000 in a one-year CD, $2,000 in a two-year CD, $2,000 in a three-year CD, $2,000 in a four-year CD, and $2,000 in a five-year CD. This way, every year, one of your CDs will mature and you'll have access to that money again.

So, why would you want to do this? There are a few reasons:

  • Access to your money: As we mentioned, with a CD ladder, you'll have access to some of your money every year. This can be helpful if you have a financial goal that requires a lump sum of cash in the near future, or if you just want the peace of mind of knowing you have some flexibility with your savings.

  • Higher returns: CD rates tend to be higher than traditional savings account rates, so by investing in CDs, you can earn more money on your savings. And by laddering your CDs, you can take advantage of the higher rates offered by longer-term CDs while still having access to some of your money.

  • Diversification: A CD ladder can also help diversify your savings and mitigate risk. By investing in CDs with different term lengths, you're not putting all of your eggs in one basket. If interest rates rise significantly, you'll still have some shorter-term CDs that will mature before the longer-term ones, so you won't be stuck earning a lower rate for a longer period of time.

Once you've decided on your CD ladder strategy, it's time to start investing! Just remember to keep an eye on the interest rates and consider rolling your maturing CDs into new ones if rates have increased. And if you do decide to take your money out before the CD matures, be prepared to pay an early withdrawal penalty.

Is a CD Ladder the Right Investment for You?

So, is a CD ladder right for you? It really depends on your financial goals and risk tolerance. If you're looking for a safe, steady stream of income and don't mind the lack of excitement, then a CD ladder might be a good fit. Just don't expect to get rich overnight (or ever, really). But hey, at least you won't lose your shirt, right?


So, there you have it: a CD ladder is a way to structure your CD investments so that you have a mix of short-term and long-term CDs, allowing you to maximize your returns while still having access to some of your money at regular intervals. It's a simple but effective way to save and invest for the future, and who knows, maybe one day you'll be able to use your CD ladder to buy that ladder to fix your roof.

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