Including today, Friday, there are only 108 days left before the 2019–2020 ISA allowance runs out. And if you exclude weekends and bank holidays, there’s even less time – but I don’t imagine there’s anything restricting most people to saving money and doing research only on working days.
Now, 108 days might sound like plenty of time, but you know what it’s like when you leave something to the last minute – every year there are thousands of ISA holders who run out of time and don’t make the most of their annual allowance. And there are many who haven’t even got round to setting up an account yet, and risk not making any tax-free investments at all.
Cash ISA? No!
In case you haven’t yet opened an ISA, here’s one big caution – I reckon a Cash ISA is pointless and a complete waste of a tax-free investing opportunity. I’ve explained recently how today’s low interest rates mean savings in a Cash ISA are losing you money in real terms, tax or no tax, and how a Stocks and Shares ISA can provide much better returns.
Assuming you’re with me in the quest for top share investments, how would I actually go about using the remaining time to best advantage?
One nice feature of ISA accounts is that most providers allow you to transfer in as much or as little as you want at a time, and you don’t need to be in any rush to actually buy shares. You have plenty of time to accumulate enough for a share purchase, so you can wait until you can make the most efficient use of transaction charges.
Even without thinking about longer-term spending, how much do you spend every day on ordinary, boring things? And how much of that is actual necessity and how much could be saved and invested?
It’s easy to spend £10 per day on lunch, so why not make your own sandwiches and save most of that? I reckon there could easily be £8 per day freed up, and in the 108 days left before the ISA deadline you could accumulate £864 that could go into your ISA. (Yes, I know that includes weekends when you might not be buying lunch, but why not just stash the £8 away anyway?)
Keep the profit
Maybe take a flask to work too, and don’t spend the £2.50+ it can cost in the coffee shops. There are so many coffees shops these days simply because they’re enormously profitable – and some of their profit could be going into your Stocks and Shares ISA instead, helping set you up for a comfortable retirement.
Travel to work can be expensive, so could you walk instead? Or perhaps cycle and improve your fitness and health into the bargain?
With daily savings, being less extravagant with evenings out, preparing food rather than eating takeaways… I reckon a lot of people could free up plenty per day that could go into their long-term investments. By April you could be picking shares investing a tidy sum.
And if you’ve found all that saving a lot of effort, you can make your investing choices ultra-easy. A simple FTSE 100 or FTSE 250 tracker fund will mean you can buy-and-forget and still collect dividends that smash the interest rate from regular savings accounts.
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Views expressed in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.