Podcast: What should I do with all my cash?

Kristia van HeerdenLatest, The Fat Wallet

When you’ve got your debt and spending under control, it can be comforting to hold on to your free cash for a while. Taking the leap from that safe pile of money to the Big Bad Market is not easy.

However, as we’ve discussed before, cash is not a risk-free investment. The longer you sit on a lump sum of cash, the more risky it becomes. This is because of inflation. The effects of inflation are difficult to internalise because the rand value of your money stays the same.

Let’s say you put R100,000 in a low interest cash account today. The interest you earn is enough to cover the annual cost of the account, but nothing more. At an inflation rate of 5.5%, in 10 years you’d only be able to buy what R58,543 can buy you today. The rand amount is still R100,000 so it seems like you haven’t lost anything, but you can afford half of what R100,000 can buy you today. In 20 years your bank statement would still reflect R100,000, but you’d be able to buy what R34,272 can buy today. As you can see, the inflation risk increases every year.

This week we help three listeners figure out how to put their cash lump sums to use. The checklist we managed to come up with for a cash lump sum is as follows:

  • Fund your tax-free investment vehicle:

    • Commonly referred to as tax-free savings accounts or TFSAs, these products should be every South African’s first investment. As an investor you are liable for dividend withholding tax, tax on interest and capital gains tax outside of a tax-free account. As we discuss in this week’s episode, these accounts are not meant for cash savings.
  • Don’t speculate unless you can afford to lose the money:

    • While cash makes it easier to capitalise on investment opportunities as they present themselves, cash can also make it easier to hop on a bandwagon that’s not suitable. Don’t invest your cash into a speculative investment (think alternative asset classes, sub-indices or individual companies) unless you can afford to lose that money.
  • Lump sum vs average:

    • While the math shows us investing an entire lump sum in one go makes more financial sense in terms of potential future earnings, going into the market one small investment at a time is a legitimate option if you’re scared. If this is your first investment, think of it as a teaching tool initially. Once you feel more confident, you can add the rest.
  • Work out the future value:

    • If cash is giving you a feeling of safety, find an online calculator to work out the future value of your lump sum using a 5.5% inflation rate. Now play around with higher or lower inflation rates. Hopefully seeing the value of your investment deplete will be the motivation you need to get going.
  • Diversify:

    • If you’re holding on to a large amount of cash, you are not diversified. Make sure to put your money to work.

The bleeped show is below:

Win of the week: Matt:

If I earn a salary from a foreign company and then decide to do the nomad thing and travel around low cost of living countries for, say, a year but remain a tax resident in SA. My understanding is the first R1m earned will be tax exempt- is that the case?

“Tax residents in South Africa will be taxed on their worldwide income. But that is dependent that they’re still SA tax residents. Offshore salary earned is taken into account. R1.25m ito the latest tax amendments will be exempt from tax in SA.”


This was mainly due to the fact that I did not know what the best option was, and my new employer only offered a provident fund.. I’ve been maximizing my tax benefit with my new employer provident fund. I’m also sitting on cash in a savings vehicle with my bank, currently returning around 3-3.5% interest.

I’m living rather small (renting only, no debt of any sort) and have quite a bit of money to invest/save every month.

What would you advise I do with my portfolio? The preservation fund? Should I keep maximising my provident fund contribution? What about my cash savings account? Should I consider taking money out of the country? Investing offshore?


I know we may have missed the boat both with gold and Tesla, would you suggest we go for an ETF with some gold in them? We don’t mind going moderately aggressive.


I currently have free cash in my TFSA with ABSA Stockbrokers. Besides the fact that its not earning that much in the way of interest, they also charge a 1% service fee annually, which I believe is based on the value of the funds in the account?

I’m reluctant to invest in the market right now as I feel there’s no value and would prefer to wait for a correction, when it eventually comes?

Although I have no previous experience investing in bonds I am thinking this could be a suitable option at this time.

Looking specifically at the Stanlib Global Government Bond (ETFGGB), it seems to be doing very well so far but is this mainly due to the Rand’s weakness over the past few years as opposed to any other factors?

Considering that this is a reasonably low risk product, is it currently a better option than investing in a regular cash instrument which is offering such low yields at the moment?

According to the fact sheet the time frame for this ETF is 3 years so assuming my investment period was 1 year or less, would you say that this is not going to be suitable?


Based on FIRE (my FIRE btw is Fuck It, Retire Early) the rule is to have around 250 – 300x monthly income. So Kris, I know your FIRE number is R7M as you’ve stated this.

so assume you have the R7M already and are still work and assume is sort of split into Cash, Bonds, Stocks and Property.

If this portfolio yields you a modest 6% PA it amounts to your investments paying you R420,000 PA – Gross.

Now this is gonna have a major impact on the tax you’ll pay as there’s no way that you can “hide” this from SARS and there’s no way your PAYE accounts for this.

You’re gonna have to pay SARS either way. I know one of the solutions is to dump it all into an RA but then you are not liquid and you’ll pay the tax in the future anyway.

I’m sure the other FIRE guys like Patrick, Stealthy face this.

What’s the solution ?

Does on just lap it up & pay the tax comforted in the knowledge that they’re paying tax cause they’ve made money

This tax liability is quite substantial as if you’re an average earner, it pushes you 2-3 tax brackets higher and if you’re a HNWI, even an increase of 0.2% of your taxable income can add R20000-R50000 to your tax bill for that year.


For the inflation linked option, the capital balance would increase by the cpi calculated rate at payment dates and interest is fixed at 5% of capital.

The website mentions an index ratio calculated by cpi divided by base ratio or value, do you know where this base value(divisor) is obtained from? It only mentions that the cpi (numerator) is obtained from Stats SA.

The fixed rate on the inflation linked 10 year bond is at an all-time high of 5%? Is this an opportunity to lock in a great rate or are the fixed rate bonds still the better option?

It seems like there is more upside potential on the inflation linked bonds as it is unlikely cpi will remain at current lows over the 10 year period. I may be incorrect but it seems both options offer the roll over or restart option so you could capture any improvement on the fixed rates either way.


There is an awesome book by Andrew Hallam – “Millionaire expat” that details expat investing (He details options for people all around the world) He also has a blog. Another is Bogle heads investing advice and info based on Singaporean expat investing.

The Fat Wallet Show with Kristia van HeerdenThe Fat Wallet Show is a no-nonsense personal finance and investment podcast hosted by Kristia van Heerden and Simon Brown. Every week we answer questions by a growing audience of finance enthusiasts. Submit your pressing money and investment questions to ask@justonelap.com.

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