Australians can still make money in 2024 despite the Reserve Bank’s aggressive interest rate rises and fears of a recession.
Despite the gloom, Finder investment analyst Kylie Purcell said next year offered possibilities that didn’t require taking huge risks during a cost of living crisis.
They range from simply keeping your money in the bank to investing in assets that are recession proof to buying shares at a low point before the market hit a record high again and renting out the spare room during a housing shortage.
1. Invest in the Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is now recovering after some bruising months and you don’t have to be a foreign exchange trader to benefit.
The currency sunk below 63 US cents in early October for the first time in a year and Westpac feared it would drop even lower to 62 US cents within weeks.
But in November, the currency recovered climbing to 66 US cents for the first time since July, after the Reserve Bank of Australia raised interest rates for the 13th time in 18 months.
The unit is still below the 71 US cent level of late January but Ms Purcell said the Australian dollar was only likely to keep recovering in 2024, which meant it would be a better investment in the bank than American greenbacks.
Despite the gloom, Finder investment analyst Kylie Purcell said next year offered possibilities that didn’t require taking huge risks during a cost of living crisis
The Australian dollar is now recovering after some bruising months and you don’t have to be a foreign exchange trader to benefit
‘The Aussie dollar is expected to rise against the US greenback after dropping to 63 cents earlier in the year,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘If you are in the foreign exchange market, you could buy low on the AUD with a hope of it continuing to rise. Even if you aren’t a forex trader.’
The difference between Australian and American interest rates is a major driver of the local currency.
The Australian dollar weakened for most of this year because the RBA cash rate continued to lag behind the US federal funds rate of 5.25 per cent to 5.5 per cent.
But in November, the RBA raised rates again by another quarter of a percentage point to a 12-year high of 4.35 per cent, reducing the gap with US rates which last rose in July.
Australia’s inflation rate of 4.9 per cent in October was still above the US rate of 3.2 per cent.
The US Fed is now considered far less likely to raise rates than the RBA.
A stronger also means cheaper travel to the United States, and many other nations, which means simply keeping your money in the bank is a good investment.
‘It’s worthwhile keeping in mind if you are planning to travel to the US or shop there as your Australian currency might go further than it has lately, which is, well, not very far,’ Ms Purcell said.
When interest rates keep on rising, fixed-income assets like government bonds are a safer investment (pictured are Prime Minister Anthony and Treasurer Jim Chalmers)
2. Buy government bonds
When interest rates are high and the economy slows, fixed-income assets like government bonds are a safer investment.
Governments issue bonds when they borrow money and investors get an annual return, known as a yield, until the maturity date.
Yields on 10-year government bonds are now at a 12-year high of 4.63 per cent.
They are also above the RBA cash rate of 4.35 per cent.
These 10-year yields aren’t as high as the 5.1 per cent term deposit rates, offered by Judo Bank and Rabobank with four and five-year terms.
But Ms Purcell said buying a longer-dated government bond now meant an investor could lock in high yields now and get annual returns that would not be available in coming years.
‘With interest rate hikes coming to an end, fixed interest assets like bonds are looking attractive once more, especially high-quality government bonds,’ she said.
‘Once interest rates fall, cash in the bank gets you a lower yield so it can be a great time to take advantage of fixed interest bonds.’
The share market has been weak this year and the Reserve Bank is expecting economic growth next year to slow to just 1.5 per cent by the end of this year. But the Australian Securities Exchange has recovered from a low point in October and is expected to climb in 2024
3. Buy shares as the market recovers
The share market has been weak this year and the Reserve Bank is expecting economic growth next year to slow to just 1.5 per cent by the end of this year.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 in October dropped to 6,826.9 points – the lowest level in a year.
But since then, the Australian Securities Exchange index has recovered to 7,049.80 points.
Ms Purcell said this was a good time to have a diversified share portfolio with Wall Street’s benchmark S&P500 already approaching record highs last reached in 2021 when interest rates around the world were at record lows.
‘Bull markets tend to last longer than bear markets,’ she said.
‘If you get into the market at the right time this can be a great opportunity to profit from rising prices over an extended period.
‘Of course it’s impossible to predict exactly what the market will do in 2024, the important thing is to stay diversified and invest for the long-term.’
Possible rate cuts in late 2024 could also spark a share market rebound, like what occurred in 2021 and early 2022.
‘Once we see interest rates start to fall again, we can expect to see the stock market rebound and we may see a bull run,’ Ms Purcell said.
Defensive stocks like supermarkets and healthcare are considered safer from the effects of a recession and high inflation because consumers can’t avoid using these products (pictured is a Woolworths shopper in Sydney’s east)
4. Invest in recession-proof companies
Defensive stocks like supermarkets and healthcare are considered safer from the effects of a recession and high inflation because consumers can’t avoid using these products.
Some economists fear the Reserve Bank’s 13 rate rises so far, and another one in February next year, risked tipping Australia into a technical recession for the first time since the 2020 Covid lockdowns.
‘With inflation and interest rates staying elevated, there could be a recession next year – both in Australia and the US,’ Ms Purcell said.
‘No one can predict how big this might be. It’s critical to stay diversified, and make sure you’ve got enough emergency cash to tie you over for at least three months.’
Ms Purcell said Coles and Woolworths shares, healthcare, food and beverages and gold were sound investments during uncertain economic times.
‘To profit during a downturn, look at investing in stocks that tend to do well during a recession such as consumer staples – products that you need regardless of economy,’ she said.
With Australia’s rental vacancy rate at a record-low of one per cent, getting a housemate could help some have some extra cash to cope with surging mortgage rates or higher living expenses (pictured is a Bondi rent queue)
5. Rent out your spare room
With Australia’s rental vacancy rate at a record-low of one per cent, getting a housemate could help some have some extra cash to cope with surging mortgage rates or higher living expenses.
More than 400,000 migrants, on a net basis, moved to Australia in the year to September, with half that influx including international students needing somewhere to live.
Finder calculated the average Australia could make $667 a month or $167 a week from leasing out that empty bedroom.
‘If you don’t mind living with a roommate, it’s a great way to create an extra revenue stream,’ Ms Purcell said.