It’s time to invest money and you’re confused by the millions of investment options out there. This money guide will make things simple for you. There are only 4 basic investment options in the world. Buckle your seat belt for this whirlwind tour; we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in a few hundred words.Investment option #1: SAFE INVESTMENTS that pay interest. There are two ways to invest money here. First, in savings vehicles like bank CDs, fixed annuities, fixed accounts in retirement plans and savings bonds. Your principle is fixed and safe, and your interest rate is also fixed, sometimes for a specified period of time.The second type of safe investment is cash equivalents, commonly just referred to as “cash”. This investment option includes high quality money market securities like T-bills (short-term), savings and money market accounts, and money market mutual funds. Your principle is fixed and safe, but the interest rate paid is not fixed for long and/or subject to change.Option #2: BONDS. This does not refer to U.S. Savings Bonds. Included here are treasury bonds, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, and so on. Here the interest rate paid is fixed and does not change. Your principle is not fixed, which means that the value of your bond investment will fluctuate. When you invest money in bonds, you can lose money. The advantage: higher income in the form of interest vs. option #1.Investment #3: STOCKS are variable investments and fluctuate in value significantly. People invest money in stocks to get growth and to a lesser extent income in the form of dividends. A stock’s price is not fixed, and dividends are subject to change and can be eliminated altogether. The advantage here: higher potential returns as stock prices rise.Investment option #4: ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS. This includes virtually all “other” investments, and here is where you need to think outside the box of traditional investing. Commonly, most folks do not have the time, expertise, or inclination to invest in real estate, natural resources like oil, gold & silver, foreign investments, commodities like soybeans and corn, and the list goes on.The fact that all “other” investments are lumped into a single category should tell you something. The first 3 are your major investment options, and have traditionally been the kingpins for diversification and investment strategy. More and more financial advisors now believe that alternative investments should get the attention that they deserve. Advantage: they add even more valuable diversification to your portfolio.This money guide believes that a good sound investment strategy will include investments from all 4 categories. Where can you invest money to offset losses in a bad stock market? The answer: alternative investments.Now, to wrap things up, is there an easy way to invest money in each of our 4 basic investment options? You bet there is … mutual funds. All within a major fund family you can find the following, from #1 to #4: money market funds, bond funds, stock funds, and specialty funds.