Reader about where to invest a 13th cheque

A lot of people who get a bonus or once off additional income for whatever reason, tend to ‘blow it’ as you have pointed out. It is therefore a very good idea to try to think of better things to do with the money. I would, however, suggest that you consider not only your immediate or short term needs but also the long term potential of any extra income you receive – no matter how small.

If you have a need for extra monthly income, which might be the case if you are currently using a credit card or overdraft because your expenses are close to or more than your current monthly income, then I support your idea of putting the money in a vehicle that will allow you to supplement your income for the next two years.

A two year term, however, is a very short time horizon for an investment and I assume you intend to be drawing the full amount over the two years. In other words, you will be left with nothing at the end.

If so, you will need access to the money and very little, if any, risk. With these constraints in mind, I would suggest either multi-asset income unit trusts – the top funds produce between 8{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} and 10{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} per annum historically – or a bank savings, call or money market account with cash immediately available. These bank accounts produce between 5.5{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} and 7.5{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} per annum, depending on the amount.

Let’s use an example and say the amount is R50 000. If you can achieve returns of 10{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} per annum for the next two years, this will produce an income of R2 307 per month for 24 months before being depleted. At 7{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} per annum, the monthly amount will be R2 194 per month, so there is only a small difference, which means it is probably not worth taking the extra risk.

The question is whether you actually need additional income or if you are just going to be spending it over 24 months instead of one month. If you don’t really have a requirement for the additional income, you may want to consider investing the amount for a longer term so that it can produce even more for you.

You could consider putting the money into a tax-free savings account or retirement annuity (RA). By contributing to an RA, you would be reducing your taxable income. This means you could get something more back from the South African Revenue Service next year, depending on what retirement contributions you are already making.

Let’s use the same R50 000 we used for the example above and assume that you are below the maximum deductible contributions to your retirement funding. This is currently 27.5{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} of your remuneration or taxable income, or R350 000 per annum, whichever is lower.

Let’s also assume that you are in a 36{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} tax bracket. If that is the case, you would get an additional R18 000 back from SARS or have to pay in R18 000 less for income tax when you submit your next return. In other words, you receive your R50 000 dividend, you invest it into an RA which results in you having an extra R18 000 next year, and the R50 000 also grows until you retire. You can only access the money in an RA once you turn 55.

The tax free savings account option wouldn’t allow you to deduct contributions for tax, but it also doesn’t tie the money up until retirement. Taking into account that growth and income in the investment is not taxed, you can benefit hugely if you think of it as an additional retirement savings plan.

Let’s say that you have 20 years to retirement. If you put R30 000 per year into a tax free savings account and achieved growth of 10{915f2fd5aca4c3a34c5cb69d7973bd97975047c315a8e3a00cfb3db88c0fb71b} per year, you would have an additional R1.7 million at retirement with no tax consequences at all. R1.1 million of that would represent gains which would otherwise have been taxed. You can also draw this money out at any time if you have a need for it, so it has the benefit of being an ’emergency fund’ for added security.

The idea is that whenever you get a little extra, take that amount and make it work even more for you, and so improve your position over time. You are thinking along the right path but a two year term doesn’t give you too many options without substantial risk. If you can think longer term, you would be surprised at how much more those dividends can do for you.

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