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9 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Save Money Starting Today

9 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Save Money Starting Today

There’s a common misconception that in order to save money you have to make a ton of money. Well, that’s simply not true. You can save for the future today without a massive income. You just need to develop some responsible fiscal habits and cut excess spending. For every dollar you save, put the same amount in an interest-bearing savings account. You’ll be elated to learn how quickly the dollars can add up. Here are nine surprisingly easy ways you can get started with saving today:

 Budgeting and Investments

 

Money

    1. Choose the Right Bank

    For starters, you need to make sure you’re working with the right bank. Smaller banks tend to have better interest rates and may even give you some additional perks. It’s not uncommon for banks to offer $50 or $100 bonuses for establishing a new checking account. Seek out these opportunities and you can give your savings account a nice little foundation.

    2. Set a Budget and Stick With It

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    You can’t save if you don’t have a plan. You need to know exactly how much money you’re bringing in each month and how much your set expenses are. Based on this, you can allocate money towards different things and identify places where you can cut back and save. A budgeting tool like EveryDollar or Mint can simplify the budgeting process and keep you honest (they even directly sync with your bank account).

    3. Automate Savings Transfers

    If your bank allows for automated savings transfers, take full advantage of this. What would happen if you decided you were going to have $100 diverted to this account each month. Would you miss it? Odds are you would find a way to do without. Treat this $100 (or increase the amount if you think you can) like a fixed monthly expense – not an optional payment. You may be surprised to find that you’re still able to maintain the same quality of life. After a year, you’ll have more than $1200 stashed away.

    Around the House

    Light Bulb

      4. Cut the Cord 

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      Now that you’ve got your bank account and budget established, it’s time to start saving money and increasing the size of your account. One of the easiest ways to do this is by cutting the cord on cable. Using this handy tool, you can calculate just how much you would save. You can even select which streaming service you would subscribe to in order to replace your cable. Even with a service like Sling TV or Netflix, the average household can expect to save between $40 and $60 a month. That’s between $480 and $720 per year.

      5. Replace Your Light Bulbs

      Did you know that by simply replacing five lightbulbs in your home with energy efficient alternatives you can save $75 per year? Considering that most homes have at least triple that many lightbulbs, you could realistically save $225 each year.

      6. Shop Around for Better Rates 

      When’s the last time you shopped around for a better car insurance rate? Asking for quotes may earn you a better deal. One expert says you can save an estimated $600-$800 annually by merely comparing carriers every two or three years. That’s certainly worth the time and hassle of changing policies.

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      Social and Entertainment

      Cooking

        7. Stop Eating Out

        Every time you eat out, you’re essentially throwing money down the drain. Sure, it’s tasty and fun, but it’s not cost effective. According to a study conducted by a clinical psychologist at Kansas State University, those in the top one percent income bracket spend 30 percent less of their money on eating out at restaurants. That should tell you something right there. For a family of four, cutting back on a single meal per week can save as much as $1500 per year.

        8. Watch Movies at Home

        One of the biggest money wasters is going out to the theater to watch a movie. These days, the average ticket costs anywhere between $10 and $15. For a family of four, that means your night out could cost $60 just to get in the door (not to mention drinks and popcorn). Waiting a few weeks for the movie to come out on DVD is much cheaper. In fact, with providers like Redbox it may only cost $1.99 for the whole family.

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        9. Exercise at Home

        Quick: how much do you spend on your gym membership? Is it $15, $30, $50-plus per month? Most people spend anywhere from $240-$600 annually on gym memberships and fees. While you should definitely stay physically active, there’s no need to spend that kind of money. Take what you would spend in a single year and buy some home equipment. After the first 12 months, you’ll end up saving hundreds of dollars each year.

        You can save money without drastically compromising your lifestyle. In fact, the handful of tips mentioned here could save you thousands of dollars per year. Redirecting that money into your savings account will leave you with a healthy financial security blanket at the end of the year. Don’t wait until tomorrow – it’s time to start saving today!

        Featured photo credit: Paper Money via albumarium.com

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        Schuyler Richardson

        Content Writer

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        Published on May 7, 2019

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

        Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

        Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

        You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

        Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

        1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

        Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

        But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

        • Will you spend more time with your family?
        • What does retirement mean to you?
        • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

        Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

        Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

        2. Figure out When to Invest

        “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

        It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

        The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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        A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

        Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

        3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

        Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

        Why?

        Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

        Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

        Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

        Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

        4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

        Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

        If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

        You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

        1. Vanguard
        2. TD Ameritrade
        3. Charles Schwab

        5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

        Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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        Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

        That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

        Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

        A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

        6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

        The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

        Robo Advisors

        Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

        Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

        Bonds

        Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

        Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

        Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

        1. Treasury bonds
        2. Government bonds
        3. Corporate bonds
        4. Foreign bonds
        5. Mortgage-backed bonds
        6. Municipal bonds

        Mutual Funds

        Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

        One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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        Real Estate

        Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

        Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

        This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

        But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

        Savings Accounts

        Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

        7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

        Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

        So how can you master delayed gratification?

        By building your discipline.

        Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

        Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

        8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

        I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

        It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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        More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

        But, how can you invest yourself?

        Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

        Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

        But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

        Retire Happy with Excess Money

        The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

        It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

        I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

        Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

        One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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        Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

        Reference

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