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Last month, Changing Gears teamed with authors and CNN anchors Ali Velshi and Christine Romans to collect your questions on the personal finance issues that you’re facing because of the recession.

Today, we’re bringing you the next in our series of Midwest Money answers from Ali and Christine, based on their new book,How To Speak Money: The Language and Knowledge You Need Now. (Each person whose question is used will receive a copy of the book.)

Ishtiaq Bercha, of Aurora, Colorado, writes with a common concern.

“What should I do with my savings? Should I keep cash in the banks, invest in stocks and bonds — or gold? What is the best prospect from a retirement perspective?

Ali and Christine respond,

“The answer, Ishtiaq, is easy. You want to be investing in all of these things! Cash in the bank, stocks, bonds, golds/metals (10 percent of your portfolio or a bit more if you have a higher risk tolerance), real estate and even businesses.

When do you start? And how much? After you pay off credit card debt and build a liquid savings of 6 months of living expenses, then you invest for the long term.

And that means knowing what your risk tolerance is. For that, we suggest taking our risk quiz first, to understand what proportion of stocks, bonds, cash and alternative investments you need. You can click on that here.

Next, don’t chase fads and trends, says Ryan Mack, of Optimum Capital Management, and make sure to follow a strategy of dollar-cost averaging. That means routinely buying into the market. When stocks, bonds, gold, oil, or real estate funds go up and down, you are buying into these at different prices and spreading out your risk and rewards.

Also, you should balance and weight your portfolio based on your risk tolerance, age, and market conditions. Specifically, you need to ask yourself when you need the use of the money you are investing.

If you need it in the next year, you shouldn’t pile it into the market. If there’s a downturn you will cement in your losses and not have as much as you might need. If your time frame is longer, you have more breathing room and can be more creative with your portfolio.

From a retirement perspective, the closer you are to retirement, the more conservative you should play it. But if you have a long time horizon, you should spread your investments around.

Have fun. You are asking the right questions. So many people are playing defense with their money right now and are living paycheck to paycheck trying to pay off credit card debt. The be free of that and building toward the future is a wonderful feeling. Enjoy it!