Updated: June 15, 2020
Investing should not be a one-time activity. Rather, it’s best to do it regularly and over a long period of time. Making it a habit is the key to building wealth.
Thus, for those who have Mutual Fund (or a Unit Investment Trust Fund) investments, one should remember to top-up or add more money to their investments.
Topping-up means buying more shares of the same mutual fund that you already have. And ideally, doing it on a frequent schedule, such as monthly or quarterly.
At this point, many start to ask, “For how long should I top-up my mutual fund investments?”
Should you continuously top-up for 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? And also, should you increase the amount you top-up every year, or just top-up with a fixed amount until the end? Below are my recommendations.
How much should you top-up?
You have to first decide how often do you want to top-up. For me, the best would be monthly. But it’s perfectly okay to just top-up every fixed number of months, as long as it’s at least once a year.
Let’s say that you chose to top-up quarterly (every 3 months), then ask yourself how much can you afford to top-up at this frequency. Be sure that it’s a comfortable amount that won’t affect your regular spending budget.
Should I increase my top-ups over time?
It is recommended but not required. This means that if you can afford to invest more money, then you can increase your top-ups on your mutual fund investments; or put it on a new investment — it’s your decision and both are okay.
If you receive a windfall, or a large sum of money suddenly comes your way, then you can top-up all that amount in one go. Or, divide the amount over a period of 1-2 years and do cost averaging.
For how long should I top-up?
And now for the big question, for how many years should you continuously top-up and invest on your mutual fund? The answer depends on your financial goal.
It’s important to have a reason for investing. This means having a specific purpose for the money. Is it to buy a house? For a dream vacation? Business capital? Your child’s college education? Or perhaps for your own retirement fund?
Having a specific purpose for the money means setting a target amount and a target date. For example, it can be for your child’s college education, which you calculated to be P1.2 million after 10 years.
When you reach your target amount
Before you top-up, check the total current value of your investment. The moment that it reaches your target amount, that’s the time that you can stop topping-up.
When this happens, it’s advised to redeem your shares and invest the amount on a low-risk investment to protect it from market volatility. If the money is in a low-risk mutual fund in the first place, then there’s no need to do anything.
Five (5) years before the target date for Agressive / High-Risk Mutual Funds
If you’re investing and topping-up on a high-risk mutual fund (i.e. Equity Funds), then it’s recommended that you stop buying additional shares when you reach 5 years from your target date.
What you need to do instead is to monitor the total current value of your investment, and consider when is the best time to redeem the shares, so you can transfer it to a low-risk investment.
Depending on the direction of the economy, this would be within the next 1-2 years. You’re doing this because it’s important to lock-in your profits and minimize your money’s exposure to market volatility as your target date is drawing near.
Three (3) years before the target date for Moderate-Risk Mutual Funds
If you’re money is in a moderately aggressive investment (i.e. Balanced Funds), then you can stop topping-up your mutual fund when you reach 3 years from your target date.
The reason for doing this is the same as for the high-risk investment above. And likewise, after redeeming your shares, you can invest the money in a low-risk instrument.
One (1) year before the target date for Low-Risk Mutual Funds
Finally, if you’re investing in conservative funds (i.e. Fixed Income or Money Market Funds), then you can just top-up until a year before your target date.
Any additional funds that you have can be invested towards another financial goal. Or you can just save the money in a savings account, where it’s safely waiting to be used and spent when your target date arrives.
The key to building wealth is to invest regularly. Start investing with what’s comfortable for you, but work on increasing the amount over time.
Have a purpose when investing. This means having a target amount and a target date. Both of these are important in helping you decide when to stop adding more money to your mutual fund investment.
Redeem your shares when you reach your target amount. Or when you reach the optimal time to lock-in your profits and minimize the risk of your investment.
Never forget that the objective of investing is not simply to make money, but to be able afford your dreams… to reach your financial goals.