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6 Ways to Be More Prudent and More Financially Stable

6 Ways to Be More Prudent and More Financially Stable

We are taught to manage our finances while we are still kids. Our parents give us an allowance and see how we distribute our money throughout the month or week. Then when we move out during our studies, we have to pay bills and buy food so managing finances becomes a bit more difficult. Then we start to live in a home of our own, where there are all sorts of other bills and repairs to worry about, so staying within your budget becomes even more difficult.

If we are not careful, we can easily end up having money problems and this can lead to a very stressful life in the future. Furthermore, we live in a time of consumerism, so a lot of people out there are trying to sell you things you don’t even need, but they are making compelling cases so that you end up becoming a customer. Due to these reasons, managing finances becomes more challenging, so here are some tips that can help you become more frugal.

Plan out how much you are allowed to spend

Alright, one of the most basic mistakes one can make when handling salary, is to adopt a “go with the flow” point of view. When you get your paycheck, it would be wise to have some sort of basic budget plan i.e. a rough estimate of how much you can spend on a daily basis, so that you can go through an entire month living fairly comfortably.

Once you have that, you should by no means spend the entire daily budget, since you are bound to face unexpected expenses and you’ll need an emergency fund. Also, this daily budget is a good starting point for future financial strategies. You’ll need to find different ways of increasing your daily limit and challenging yourself to save more.

Do not be financially dependent on other people

Of course, if you are going through a bad financial patch, chances are you will borrow money from friends or family. However, you should not allow this to become a habit. Being financially dependent on other people makes you one step closer to financial suicide.

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Truth be told, you might not borrow much and your close friends or family won’t mind you borrowing some money, but this is more of a personal issue. If you constantly need to depend on other people, then you have a problem that has a rather simple solution. You can either spend less or find a way to earn more.

We live in a world where earning a bit extra cash is really not that hard, it’s simply tedious. You can complete surveys or install apps that you can use to earn money online and then can cash-in later. If you continue to rely on others from one month to another, it will only send a message that you refuse to solve your problems and this can leave severe consequences in the future.

Do thorough research before important decisions

It is important that you do not make any big investments without thorough research. You can visit different types of agencies and speak to different financial advisors, but bear in mind, that these people can have a vested interest when they tell you what to do. If the advice is not coming from a close friend or a family member who genuinely cares for you and who is well-versed in money management, don’t immediately adhere to it.

You can do online research and find more accurate information this way. Of course, the people who tell you how to handle your finances are also online and will probably advise you the same thing there, but there is a difference. Google has its own base of trusted websites, and there are always ways to check if sites are trustworthy. Here are some explanations on how to do it, but you can find even more online.

These big decisions are usually loans and these loans are sometimes a necessity, because it is unrealistic to expect that you can simply pay for an entire house with cash. So, at one point you might need to get a house mortgage. When someone explains to you how this whole process works and you feel that the explanation is oversimplified, then chances are that, the person has a vested interest in your investment.

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It’s important that you are vigilant and that you explore all of the other options before you go through with this type of decision. Here is a good guide that can help you gain a deeper understanding of mortgage rates; make sure you go through it if you plan to buy a new home, or if you want to be a real estate investor.

Another important thing to remember is not to turn to the payday loan industry. These are also known as predatory loans, because their interest rates are ridiculously high. They only offer a quick solution, but everyone ends up regretting their decision due to the astronomical interest rates.

In other words, if you really need a loan and intend to pay it back, then it’s far better to borrow from friends or family. People usually end up borrowing money from others, or pawn their possessions in order to return payday loans and they could have done those things in the first place instead of taking that loan.

Use money management tools

I have already mentioned how you can use apps to earn money, but you can also use apps to save money. There are apps that can calculate your expenses and give you good financial advice, but it’s always better to seek a financial advisor you can trust. However, there are apps which can help you get coupons or discounts in stores.

They will also provide you with insight into which stores currently have discounts, sales etc. These are really useful and with a good shopping strategy you can save a lot of money. It’s also important to know that some of these quality apps come at a price, so you should only buy them if you absolutely need them.

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In other words, if you are already having a hard time managing your resources and have debts, then these apps won’t do much good; they will only be an additional expense. On the other hand, if you want to create a good savings strategy, then buying them is a good idea, since they will eventually pay for themselves.

Use saving tactics

When it comes to saving money, there are so many viable tactics out there that you would be surprised. In this section I will only list some that I really like, but as mentioned you can find a lot more online.

  • Weekly challenge: Basically you set the amount of money you wish to put aside each week (it can be $1, $5, or $10). Then at the end of the week you put that amount in a piggy bank or a savings jar, but at the end of next week, the amount needs to be doubled and so on.

So, if you go for $5 then, next week you place $10, and a week after that is $20, and the last             week of the month is $40. You reset the amount at the beginning of the next month. Also it             might be better to place the money in the jar at the beginning of the week, so that you know             you cannot count on it.

  • Wait for a discount on general goods, like cleaning products, toilet paper, toothpaste etc. Then feel free to buy these goods in bulk and you won’t have to spend money on them in the near future.
  • If you need new furniture, check out sites like freecycle.org to see what you can get free of charge.
  • Instead of buying cleaning rags, you can save your old clothes that are no longer wearable, and use them to clean floors.
  • Before you go shopping, write a list and stick to it; don’t be tempted to buy anything you don’t need. In any store, the most essential items are usually in the back, so that shoppers are tempted by expensive products they do not need while they are walking to the back of the store to buy what they came for.
  • Learn how to repair clothes so you won’t have to toss it away at the first signs of wear and tear and you can also earn some extra cash if you monetize these skills.
  • Buy light bulbs that do not use as much energy as regular light bulbs, they last longer and even though they are expensive, they will pay for themselves and save you money.

Once you manage to accumulate a fine amount of resources with these saving tactics you can invest in things like solar panels and a tankless water heater, since these will also save you money in the long run. Moreover, in case you want to discover more saving tactics, you can use websites like thesimpledollar.com, and you can find some good tips in this article as well.

If you go through the links, you’ll find out that if you choose to live healthier you’ll also save a lot of money. We all spend too much on food and if you learn how to prepare it yourself, you will eat better and spend less.

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Furthermore, if you buy bottled water, you should stop and buy a filter for tap water; this way you can drink tap water and you won’t have to buy it from the store. Also, if you carpool with your colleagues from work, you save the environment and money that would go on gas. In other words, we spend a lot just to have a bit more convenience and we don’t really need to sacrifice much to save quite a  bit of money.

Eliminate minor but unnecessary expenses

Finally, you must never forget that we live in a world that is dominated by micro transactions. These are really tricky, since you can’t argue that someone is trying scam you and we have almost no issue with small fees, so we part from our money lightly.

However, one small subscription after another and you start to lose a significant amount of cash, and you barely notice it. These small subscriptions are very often for a magazine, for account maintenance, for private network channels or cable channels etc.

In reality we  rarely use these services, mostly when we are bored and quite frankly there are other ways to be entertained. It only seems cheap and convenient with these subscriptions, but in the long run, we end up regretting the decision when we find out just how much we could have saved. The point is, you should not fall for micro transactions for products you won’t use frequently.

As you can see, being more prudent is not that hard. All it takes is some effort and minor life changes, but there are long-term benefits for those willing to apply them. Make sure you go through the links in this article, as they can tell you how to save and how to think before investing, and they can also help you earn a bit extra.

Remember to operate within the borders of your daily budgetnand to invest in items that can help you save more money in the future. If you manage to do this, you should be just fine.

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Djordje Todorovic

Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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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

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