Chances are, you work hard for your money and would like to make the most of it. Here are a few ways to ensure that the money you acquire is also working for you.

1. Save it

You won't grow a ton of wealth by housing money in a standard savings account, but whatever interest you do manage to earn is better than the big fat nothing you'll collect by stashing that cash in your sock drawer instead. On the other hand, if you put your money into a certificate of deposit (CD), you'll generally get a considerably higher rate than you would with a traditional savings account.

The drawback with CDs, of course, is that you're required to lock your money away for a preset period of time. On the other hand, as is the case with savings accounts, your principal investment is protected up to the FDIC limit of $250,000 per depositor.

Man counting hundred-dollar bills


How much interest might you make from a bank CD? If you're willing to tie up your money for a five-year period, you might score up to a 3.10% annual percentage yield. And while some banks might impose a minimum deposit to score that sort of rate, others don't require a minimum at all.

2. Invest it

The downside of investing is that you run the risk that you'll lose a portion of your principal if market conditions sour. The upside, however, is the potential to snag a much higher return than a savings account or CD will pay you. This especially holds true if you load up on stocks.

Though stocks have historically been far more volatile than bonds, they've also delivered consistently higher returns. In fact, over the past 100 years, stocks have generated roughly an average annual 9% return, which is about three times more than what you'll get from even the most competitive CDs out there today.

To give you a sense of what this might do for your money, let's imagine you were to invest $10,000 in the stock market today and not add a penny more for 30 years. Let's also be a bit conservative and assume that over the next three decades, the stock market only delivers an average annual 7% return. Even so, you're looking at turning your $10,000 investment into $76,000 without having to do much other than conduct some initial research to find the right stocks to buy.

3. Use it to buy property

Though owning property is not without risk, it's another way you can put the money you have to work. There are several ways you can accomplish this goal. First, you can buy property in the hopes that it will appreciate in value over time, thereby allowing you to pocket the proceeds. Another option is to buy property, find tenants, and collect a steady stream of rental income. Or, you might do a combination of both -- rent out a home for a number of years, and then sell it when market conditions are ripe.

Now generally speaking, the stock market, though volatile itself, is said to offer more reliable returns than real estate. That said, a recent UCLA study found that single-family homes in major U.S. cities generated an average annual 9% return between 1986 and 2014, and the source of those returns was a combination of rental income and upticks in property value. Therefore, while there's no guarantee you'll make money in real estate, if you buy a home at the right price and in the right neighborhood, it could end up working out very well for you.

To the latter point, aim to find an area that's conducive to finding tenants. Major cities and college towns tend to do the trick, as do areas with beaches, ski resorts, and major attractions.

The beauty of having money is the potential for it to turn into even more money. So go ahead and explore your options for putting that money to work, and get ready to grow your wealth even further.