I wouldn't do the stocks or mutual funds. It's no different than Vegas imo. You hear success stories on occassion (I'm sure everyone on the board is a stock millionare
). But in real life. Not many people are lucky at it.
I'd get rid of high % debt first. Then keep a buffer in the bank. And finally, invest in long term like real estate. You can keep your low % debt if you do the math and the long term investments end up paying out more. Which they often times do.
Oh, and put max for the year in your IRA.
*Disclamer: I'm not rich and have no clue about what I'm talking.
Read his disclaimer very carefully ( nothing personal Garreath.)
Equating Mutual funds with Vegas is one of the most foolish things I have ever read. We all know that return is a trade off on risk . . . cut the cards and double your money or lose it all. Put you money in a sock in a drawer and it's safe, but no return. Where do the lines intersect?
A good diversified Mutual fund in a " High Risk " category is the best thing. In this instance ' risk " is used to define the length of time you can be in the market and how well you tolerate the loss and gains over the long haul. If you take the time and look at mutual funds and their historical performance you will see how they are good for a long term investor. ANY GOOD DIVERSIFIED FUND should yeild 10 to 12 % per year and this will ( in theory ) double ones money every six to seven years.
You are very sound in your efforts to buy down your debt. Any good money manager willadvise you to do so, as the cost of servicing that debt ( in the vast majority of cases ) is substantial.
I have done very well with a long term strategy. I started before I was 16 . . . and The Beef turns 42 very soon! If you don't have the luxury of 50+ years in the market, get help developing a good strategy for the time you have left. And above all else talk to a professional.
The best time to start an investment plan was from day one, the second best time is NOW!!!