Interest rates are falling, and investors are starving for income. Coupon rates on U.S. Treasuries are paying less than 2% except for the 30-Year U.S. Treasury bond, which is paying 2.25%. Corporate bonds, CD’s, and tax-free bonds aren’t paying much more. The Federal Open Market Committee recently lowered interest rates by a quarter of a point, and they’ll probably do it again at their next meeting. With rates falling, how is it possible to generate more income?
One strategy to incorporate is a systematic withdrawal plan (SWP). This approach allows you to receive income from your mutual funds while taking advantage of the long-term growth from the stock market. Your payout will be a combination of income, dividends, capital gains, and principal. For example, if you invest $100,000 in a globally diversified portfolio of mutual funds and instruct your advisor to send you a monthly check for $400, then your payout will be 4.8% of your principal.
Your payout can be fixed or variable. With a fixed payout you’ll receive the same dollar amount regardless of your account balance. A variable payout will pay you a percentage of your account balance annually, so if your account rises, you’ll earn more income.
Let’s look at a few real-world examples.
Since 1926, a 60% stock and 40% bond portfolio has produced an average annual return of 8.92% while inflation averaged 2.89%, so the real return was 6.03%. Starting an example in 1926 is not realistic, so let’s look at three different periods: 2000, 2007, and 2009.
Each example will begin with a value of $100,000 and an annual withdrawal rate of 4% of the account balance. The mutual funds are managed by Dimensional Fund Advisors, and they’ll be rebalanced annually. The asset allocation mix is 60% stocks, 40% bonds. Here is the list of funds:
- DFA Large Cap Value (DFLVX) = 20%
- DFA Large Cap International (DFALX) = 20%
- DFA Small Cap (DFSTX) = 5%
- DFA International Small Cap (DFISX) = 5%
- DFA Real Estate (DFREX) = 5%
- DFA Emerging Markets (DFEMX) = 5%
- DFA Intermediate Government (DFIGX) = 20%
- DFA Two-Year Government (DFYGX) = 20%
Example 1: January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2010. During this stretch, the S&P 500 lost 14.4%. Your original investment of $100,000 grew to $106,667, and you received $66,471 in total income. The average annual return was 6.6%.
Example 2: October 1, 2007 to August 31, 2019. From October 2007 to March 2009, the S&P 500 fell 48% during the Great Recession, so your investment timing was horrible, one of the worst times to start investing in history. As a result of your poor timing, your $100,000 sunk to $77,640, but you received $58,512 in income. Your average annual return was 3.4%. Despite the initial drop, you still made money.
Example 3. March 1, 2009 to August 31, 2019. During this stretch, the S&P 500 soared 298% or 14.05% per year. As a result of your great timing, your $100,000 is now worth $137,036, and you received $90,071 in income. Your average annual return was 10.98% per year.
Example 4. January 1, 2000 to August 31, 2019. During this time, the S&P 500 averaged 2.25% per year. Your original investment of $100,000 is now worth $99,975, and you received $121,534 in total income. Your average annual return was 6.27%.
A globally diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds gives you an opportunity to receive above-average income. You probably won’t start investing at a market top, or bottom, so rather than trying to time the market or trade your way to wealth, focus on your long-term goals. A diversified portfolio will allow you to capture global market returns over time, and over time, stocks win.
Invest globally, receive locally.
Here is part of the tradeoff with diversification. You must be diversified enough to survive bad times or bad luck so that skill and good process can have the chance to pay off over the long term. ~ Joel Greenblatt
September 26, 2019
Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.
 Dimensional Fund Advisors Returns Web, 1/1/1926 – 7/31/2019.
 Morningstar Office Hypothetical, gross returns before taxes and fees.