How much do I need to invest in an ASX ETF for an extra month off work each year?

A little extra time to enjoy life without taking a pay cut could be more achievable than you think.

| More on:
A golfer celebrates a good shot at the tee, indicating success.

Image source: Getty Images

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

'Time is money', as the old saying goes. Unfortunately, additional time cannot be manufactured or printed, like money can be. It is a finite resource. However, we can free up more of our time by building a dividend machine with the help of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) listed on the ASX.

In my view, money is simply a tool… it's a means to an end, and not an end itself. For some, money is the conduit to starting their own business. For others, it is the financial firepower to land their dream home.

Me?… I believe there is no better use for money than unlocking more spare time — the freedom to live more of life on my own terms. The ability to catch up more often with loved ones, explore more of the world, and devote more time to giving back — more, more, more!

Given the appeal, I thought I'd find out how much money someone would need in an ASX ETF to cover a month's worth of pay.

Which ASX ETF I'd buy for more spare time

It is tempting to seek out the highest-yielding ETF when trying to shore up a generous stream of dividends. In my opinion, focusing too much on yield can be detrimental rather than beneficial.

If an ASX ETF were to offer a 10% dividend yield but is invested in low-quality companies with declining earnings, those plentiful payouts may not last.

Conversely, good companies may not offer the best yields in the present. However, the higher rate of earnings growth could result in more dividends over the life of the investment.

For example, the Vanguard Australian Shares High Yield ETF (ASX: VHY) currently offers a 5% dividend yield. This ETF allocates a more significant weighting toward the big dividend payers, such as the big banks and mining giants.

Comparatively, the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (ASX: VAS) is yielding a lesser 4.03%, targeting the S&P/ASX 300 Index (ASX: XKO) without an active skew towards high yielders in an attempt to derive more dividends.

Since May 2011, the VAS ETF has returned 44.3% before dividends compared to VHY's 34.5%.

For this reason, I would personally dollar-cost average into the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF to balance dividends with capital growth.

Assuming I earn the median salary in Australia of $65,000, I would need to replace $5,417 worth of pre-tax income if I took an extra month off work each year. Based on the trailing yield of the VAS ETF, I would need $134,409 invested to generate the additional income.

How much do I need if I earn more (or less)?

What if I didn't earn the median income?

I whipped up a table to quickly establish how much money someone would need to invest in the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF, depending on their pre-tax annual income, as shown below.

Annual incomeUnpaid leave for a month would costInvested amount required
Figures are based on 4.03% dividend yield. Please note the yield is subject to change and cannot be relied upon.

At a yield of 4.03%, a quick rule of thumb is a little more than twice your annual income would be needed.

This might look completely unachievable initially, but the trick is thinking long-term.

For example, suppose you have $10,000 already invested in the Australian share market compounding at 8%. If you earned the median Australian salary and invested 15% of your pre-tax income, you would reach the required amount in 10 years.

If you can stash away a larger percentage of your salary into an ASX ETF, the goal would arrive even sooner, all else remaining equal.

Motley Fool contributor Mitchell Lawler has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Vanguard Australian Shares High Yield ETF. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

More on Dividend Investing

Woman and man calculating a dividend yield.
Dividend Investing

Is WAM Capital stock a buy for its whopping 11% dividend?

Be careful what you wish for in an 11% yield...

Read more »

Person with a handful of Australian dollar notes, symbolising dividends.
Dividend Investing

Which ASX 200 healthcare share will pay the best dividend yield in FY24?

Healthcare stocks are a traditional defensive play in challenging economic times.

Read more »

Man holding out Australian dollar notes, symbolising dividends.
Dividend Investing

3 ASX dividend shares to buy with 5%+ yields

Analysts are tipping these buy-rated shares to offer big yields.

Read more »

Happy man in a holiday shirt holding out Australian dollar notes, symbolising dividends.
Dividend Investing

3 ASX dividend stocks I own to pay for my retirement

I love the cash these shares are sending to me every year.

Read more »

Young girl with green hair and big bow dancing with joy
Dividend Investing

This high-yield ASX share could pay a dividend yield of almost 14% in FY25!

This stock could continue to be a fountain of cash.

Read more »

Happy man holding Australian dollar notes, representing dividends.
Dividend Investing

Analysts say these top ASX 200 dividend shares are buys

Income investors might want to check out these buy-rated shares.

Read more »

Three young girls on a farm hold bunches of carrots triumphantly above their heads.
Dividend Investing

Income investors: 3 ASX dividend shares that could rally in 2024

Don't just grab the stocks with the highest yields. Check out these picks that have potential to bring back capital…

Read more »

Beautiful young couple enjoying in shopping, symbolising passive income.
Dividend Investing

An ASX dividend giant I'd buy over BHP stock

The dividends from this business have grown enormously.

Read more »