There are various categories of mutual funds and each category has its own level of risk. Usually funds with high level of risk are preferred for long term and funds with low to medium level of risk are suitable for short term and therefore depending on the risk involved in a mutual fund we can decide whether a fund is safe or not in the short term.
Also, the period short term is subjective and changes from investor to investor. Assuming your term of investment is less than 3 years, you may consider debt and balanced funds for your investments.
1. Debt funds
The investment objective is to generate income by investing predominantly in a wide range of debt and money market securities. The risk in these type of funds is similar to that of fixed deposits but returns are slightly higher than fixed deposits. These investments are suitable for investors looking for zero exposure in equity. There are various type debt funds that you can consider, to read more about the types of debt funds please click here.
2. Hybrid Funds
The objective of these schemes is to provide growth by investing in equity and stability (or regular income) by investing in debt instruments. The hybrid funds can have fixed or flexible allocation between equity and debt. These funds are riskier than debt funds due to presence of equity component but are suitable for investors having a minimum tenure of 2-3 years.
These are some of the top performing debt and balanced funds:
Investment in a particular fund is primarily a function of the return and risk appetite of the investor, which in turn is governed by the investment objective of the investor.
Two options for short term are -
From a short term investment horizon of up to 1 year, debt funds are most preferable. Debt funds are the types of mutual funds which invest capital of investors in bonds and deposits of various kinds and pass on the interest earned in the form of returns to the investors. In simple terms, investors lend money and earn interest (returns) on the money they have lent. It is expected that debt funds can provide a return of around 8-10% per annum. Debt funds can be of various types.
Investor may also invest in Gilt funds, to invest in a low risk fund. Gilt funds are those mutual fund schemes which are floated by asset management companies or AMCs with exclusive investments in various government securities only. Government securities include central government securities, state government securities and treasury bills. The gilt funds provide to the investors, the safety of investments made in government securities and better returns than direct investments in these securities through investing in a variety of government securities yielding varying rate of returns.
It depends on what type of funds you invest in. And also what is the definition of the short term. Lets look at some types of mutual funds.
Liquid Funds - Very Safe (Very Low Risk)
Liquid funds are much safer for short term as they invest in very short term debt. The risk of loosing money is almost negligible while it can provide better returns than savings account or fixed deposits.
Ultra Short Term fund - Safe (Low Risk)
Ultra Short Term Funds are slightly more risky than liquid funds but still very safe compared to equity funds and can be good substitute for fixed deposits.
The risk of other category funds is higher compared to these two funds. Roughly, this is the order of risk level
(Lowest Risk) Liquid < Ultra Short Term Debt < Short Term Debt < Equity Large Cap < Equity Multi Cap < Equity Mid Cap < Equity Small Cap < Equity Sector Funds (Highest Risk)