I am 45 and would like to know a safe investment for about $5,000 that could earn me interest without being too much of a risk.

If you don’t wish to assume risk, and you’re wise not to — especially if this $5,000 is a major part of your savings nest egg — then I suggest one of two investments:

1. Buy Treasury notes. They’re backed by the U.S. government, and the interest you earn is not taxed at the state or local level. Generally, Treasury notes that mature (come due) in two to three years are sold in $5,000 denominations, while those that come due in four to 10 years are $1,000 each. Two-year notes have a yield of about 6-1/8% and five-year notes, about 6%. These rates are higher than bank CDs and savings accounts, and if you buy them from your Federal Reserve Bank or branch, you won’t have to pay a commission or fee as you do with a stockbroker.

The number for your particular Federal Reserve Bank, in St. Louis, is 314-444-8703. Call for information on current rates and how to purchase.

2. Buy several bank CDs, and do what’s called “laddering.” That means buying one CD that comes due, say, in one year, another due in two years, and so on. The reason behind laddering is that if interest rates go up then you’ll have some money coming due that you can immediately reinvest at some time at the new, higher rates.

Compare rates at several banks in your area with those currently being offered at the Mark Twain Bank in St. Louis.

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