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Bonds also receive different ratings based on the credit of the issuer. Typically, you can calculate your return BEFORE you purchase a bond based on rate and period of maturity.

But as with any investments, bonds do carry some risk. For example, when interest rates rise, bond prices fall. This means that if you choose to sell a bond before its maturity date, you could make less than the price you paid for it.

Bonds generally must be purchased through a broker though T-bonds can be bought directly from the government.