Not one of the investments you listed would be considered "safe" in any reasonable context. Maybe as opposed to dropping it on black at the casino, but that's about it. You can lose up to 100% of your investment in any of the investments you mentioned. Penny stocks are the worst. Investing 100% of your money in a distressed company in a distressed industry (Ford) is not much better. Mutual funds are the safest of the ones you mentioned (that's not saying much) but any mutual fund with a history of returning 15-20% will be in a higher risk, more volatile sector that as likely as not will lose that much (or more) in any given year. You need professional help. Find a fee based financial planner (fee based is key) to help you decide on a plan. If you don't have a 3-6 month cash reserve, then this money should go into a CD ladder for a rainy day. After that you can start thinking about investing in equities or bonds. A good financial planner can help you assess your risk tolerance. Think about this: If you got your brokerage statement and this money had gone from $20,000 to $10,000, how would you feel? If you said anything but "calm" then the investments you listed are probably wrong for you. If you said that you'd want to vomit, then you need a much safer investment. Scared money makes bad decisions. Don't do anything until you have a well-thought out plan. JMHO. I really dont think he needs professional help. Investing isnt that complicated. It seems that the OP knows a few of the options that are available to him, enough to make an informed decision on his own at least. Especially with a relatively small amount like 20k, he could really get a great return while having loads of fun and learning a ton too. If you want to be more passive, I would suggest you open a Scottrade account and just buy a few etf's that sum up to 20k; they do a decent job of diversifying with little to no effort minus the fees. If you want to be more active (some people really enjoy this part when they just start investing) read up on strategies and pick a few stocks that you think make sense. Dont just invest all 20k in one sit-down, watch the market closely for a few weeks/months.