5 Steps to Make the Best Use of Your Bonus

It’s that time of the year! You may have received or are going to receive your bonus soon. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the hard work you’ve put in throughout the year.

The lump-sum bonus amount gives you the freedom to go on that luxury retreat you saw months ago or buy the premium smartphone you’ve always fancied. While indulging yourself once in a while is important, preparing for the future is equally important. Instead of spending all your bonus without a care in the world, it’s wise to allocate a portion for rainy days and to meet your future needs.

Here are five steps to help you budget your bonus smartly.

1. Clearing debt

Your high-interest debts can drag down your financial goals. Piling up debts can throw you into a hand-to-mouth situation or, even worse, in case you land on a rough patch. For loans with interest rates higher than 5%, such as overdue credit card bills or personal loans, consider clearing these loans or at least part of them. This will help you avoid defaulting on your payments and racking up interest charges. More importantly, this reduces the stress of having to make payments on time each month and gives more peace of mind.

2. Set aside rainy-day funds

After clearing your debts, the next important step for maintaining financial stability is topping up your emergency fund. Life can be unpredictable, and things can happen. As a rule of thumb, you should set aside 6 to 12 months of monthly expenses for your emergency fund. For instance, if your household monthly expenses are S$5,000 per month, you should have at least S$30,000 in your emergency fund. This will serve as an umbrella on rainy days.

However, keeping some funds for emergencies doesn’t necessarily mean you should let your cash sit idle in your savings accounts, earning comparatively lower rates. You can opt for cash investments that are ultra-low risk and highly liquid.

You can explore zero lock-in cash management products like Cash+ Flexi, which invests your money in low-risk, high-liquidity money market funds to offer projected returns of 3.8% p.a for SGD and 5.4% p.a for USD. For cash that you can afford to lock in for 3 months, you can consider Cash+ Guaranteed, which gives you 3.8% p.a guaranteed returns (as of 29 February 2024). 

3. Top up for retirement fund 

Government schemes like the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) can be useful tools to grow your retirement fund.

By making regular cash top-ups to your CPF savings, you can enjoy tax relief up to $8,000 a year, and at the same time, grow the fund for your dream retirement. If you make a cash top-up for your loved ones, you can enjoy additional tax relief of S$8,000 a year.

The earlier you start to top up your CPF savings, the more time you have to grow your retirement fund. For example, if you do a yearly top-up of S$5,000 to your Special Account (SA), your SA can grow to S$154,846 in 20 years (computed using an interest of 4% p.a.). That translates to $54,846 in interest earned, not to mention the tax savings you have received.

However, topping up your CPF is a long-term commitment. You are not able to withdraw your CPF monies until you reach the age of 55. It is important to ensure that you have enough in your emergency fund and other short-term goals are met before making the commitment.

SRS is an alternative to build your retirement fund. You can enjoy tax relief up to S$15,300 per year for Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents while having the flexibility to invest.

4. Invest to grow your money 

After clearing lingering costly debts and setting aside funds for contingencies and retirement, the next logical step is to invest your bonus. Every dollar you invest is a seed for your financial future. When you decide to invest, your strategy will depend on your life stage and current financial goals. Here are some options that can be considered when putting together your investment plan. 

In a Growth mode

If you have the risk tolerance to withstand short-term volatility and aim to grow your wealth over time, you can choose to invest in Syfe’s Equity100. Equity100 is constructed using low-cost ETFs and is globally diversified. The annualised return over the last 5 years is 10.4% (as of 31 Jan 2024, before platform fees).

Start a passive income stream

If your goal is to ensure you get an income regularly, you may consider Syfe’s Income+ and REIT+ portfolios.  Income+ portfolios invest in PIMCO’s best-in-class bond strategies while offering you a monthly payout at 4-6% p.a. Similarly,  REIT+ portfolios help you earn passive income by investing in Singapore’s largest REITs. 100% REITs portfolio gives you an estimated yield of 5.8% p.a. 

Should I invest my bonus in a lump sum or use dollar-cost averaging (DCA)?

A study from Northwestern Mutual found that investing a lump sum generated better cumulative total returns at the end of 10 years than DCA almost 75% of the time, regardless of asset allocation between equities and bonds. This is considering the money is invested evenly over 12 months and then held for the remaining 9 years in the DCA scenario. 

The downside of the lump sum investing strategy is that it requires higher risk tolerance. If you invest all your funds at once, it might lead to unrealised losses in the short term if markets are volatile. 

For those with a lower risk appetite or who are new to investing, DCA is more suitable. Expanding your portfolio gradually with a series of smaller amounts is akin to dipping your toes in the water first to check the temperature rather than jumping in straight away.

5. Give yourself and your family a treat

While you chart out a plan to grow your wealth, don’t forget to give yourself and your family a treat. Spending mindfully on things you enjoy will improve your satisfaction levels and motivate you to work harder. If you have a sorted financial growth plan, indulging yourself a bit is not a bad idea to start your year.

Ready to Start? 

Speak to our dedicated advisory team to gain market insights and trends while navigating potential risks. We enable you to make well-informed decisions. We are dedicated to delivering top-tier solutions, free from conflicts of interest. Engage in a no-obligation discussion with us today.

Read More: 

Syfe Investment Outlook 2024 – Your New Playbook as the Fed Pivots

How To Earn $1,000 In Passive Income Each Month: A Singaporean’s Guide

Previous article2024 Personal Finance Outlook: How to Mitigate Higher Cost of Living?
Next articleWeekly KickStart | 2 March 2024