Many investors wonder where they should invest $1,000 a month. Maybe they’re starting out from scratch. Or maybe they have been doing a 401(k) for years and have additional cash they want to invest.
You’ve paid off your credit cards and have an emergency fund with three to six months of expenses. You’ve got a good paycheck, but it all seems to disappear. Unfortunately, many Americans remain on this paycheck to paycheck treadmill, even if they have a decent income. What breaks this cycle is establishing monthly automatic contributions. Make investing automatic and you will adjust your other spending. And then when you do get a raise, aim to increase your saving, not your spending.
Let’s consider a few ways to invest $1,000 a month. I’ll go into some detail in this first scenario and then give a few variations.
Married with Children
With many couples, one has a good retirement plan at work, but the other spouse does not. For example, maybe they’re self-employed, work part-time, or are a stay at home parent. They’ve got two kids and want to make sure their kids can go to college some day, too.
- $500 a month into a Roth IRA. The annual contribution limit is $6,000, which is $500 a month. At an 8% hypothetical return, you would have $745,179 in this Roth IRA after 30 years. And that would be available tax-free! If you had this same amount in a 401(k) and had to pay 22% income tax, you’d be facing a $163,939 tax bill. That’s the amazing tax savings of a Roth IRA.
- $450 into 529 College Savings Plans. Put in $225 a month for each kid for college. Like a Roth IRA, a 529 Plan offers tax-free growth, provided the money is used on qualified higher education expenses. At an 8% hypothetical return, you would accumulate $41,162 for your 8-year old to go to college in 10 years. And you’d have $77,858 in 15 years for your 3-year old. (What if one kid doesn’t go to college? Switch the beneficiary to the other child. 529 Details here.)
- $50 a month into a 20-year term life insurance policy. For most young families, some life insurance is important and I believe term life is a great solution. For a 38-year old male, we can get a $1 million Term policy for as low as $42 a month if they are in excellent health. Contact me for details.
With their $1,000 a month, this family is on their way to potentially having:
- $745,000 in tax-free money for retirement in 30 years
- $119,000 towards their kids’ college
- A $1 million life insurance policy if something should happen to Dad
Double Income No Kids
- $500 a month to two Roth IRAs. Don’t need a 529 Plan or life insurance? You can both do Roth IRAs at $500 a month each. Roth eligibility rules are based on joint income, so if one spouse can contribute, both can. After 30 years at our hypothetical 8%, you’d have almost $1.5 million in two Roth IRAs. That’s the incredible power of compound interest! (Make too much for a Roth IRA? Consider the Backdoor Roth Contribution.)
- $500 a month into a Traditional IRA. Get a tax-deduction for this contribution. However, if you or your spouse are eligible for a retirement plan at work, income limits apply.
- $500 into a SEP-IRA. This is also tax-deductible for self-employed individuals. You can do both a SEP and a Traditional or Roth IRA. Since the SEP has much higher contribution limits than a Traditional IRA, why not just put the $1,000 a month into the SEP? The SEP may reduce your QBI Deduction for the Self-Employed.
Invest $1,000 a Month
There are lots of smart ways to invest $1,000 a month. We can help you sort through your options and get started. The Roth IRA offers tax-free growth, whereas the Traditional IRA or SEP-IRA offers an upfront tax deduction. For many parents, you may want to invest some of your $1,000 a month in a 529 College Savings Plan. Term Life Insurance could be a piece of the pie, too.
Another option would be to contribute to a Health Savings Account, or HSA. For 2021, you can contribute up to $300 a month ($3,600 a year) into your HSA, if eligible. This is a tax-deductible contribution and can be withdrawn tax-free for qualified medical expenses in the future. If you have family coverage, the HSA contribution limit doubles to $7,200 a year ($600 a month).
Most people don’t feel like they have an “extra” $1,000 every month. That’s okay. You can start with less, even just $50 a month. Most importantly, just get started. Then, you can gradually increase your monthly contributions over time. Once you get to $1,000 a month, you can go up from there! The more you save and invest, the faster you can reach your financial goals.