SMART MONEY: Investment choices are endless –

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DEAR BRUCE: What is the safest way to get a return on my money — in a mutual fund or investing in one particular stock? — Nancy

DEAR NANCY: There’s no way in the world to know! There are many mutual funds; some are really good and some are not so good. And, of course, there is also a wide variety of stock choices. The list is almost endless.

If you want the “safest way” to get a return, you could put your money in government bonds, but that gets you virtually no return. It’s a waste of time.

What you’re going to have to do is educate yourself about investing, then look into mutual funds, which are not doing well right now, and stocks. There are many good stock choices, but it will take some research to find what those choices will be. If you can’t do it yourself, consult a knowledgeable broker.

DEAR BRUCE: I want to pay off my credit card debt of $16,000 in order to clean up my credit. The problem is the balance never seems to go down, and I feel like it never will. I don’t make much money, but I do work full-time. I have $5,000 in my savings account. Do you think I should use that money to apply to my credit cards? My hope is once they’re paid off, I can start saving. — R.P.

DEAR R.P.: The bad news is that you’re up to your eyes in debt. With a modest income, you’re never going to get it down and that’s the truth. The good news is if you have over $5,000 (and you do), you can get help having that debt reduced.

There are several companies that make a living doing this. You hear them advertised on talk radio stations. What they will do is negotiate with your credit card company and have a significant portion of the credit card debt wiped out.

If your credit card obligations are reduced, then it will pay for you to apply your savings to the remaining debt because you’re not receiving any substantial interest in the savings account, but you’re paying a ton of it on the credit card debt.

Bruce Williams is host of The Bruce Williams Radio Show. Send questions to Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns.