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6 Hacks for Saving Money This Christmas

6 Hacks for Saving Money This Christmas

Christmas is coming soon and hopefully, you’ve planned ahead and saved some money. It’s such a great time of year because the family gets together, but it’s expensive at the same time. In all honesty, you might not be spending a lot per gift but with 10 people to shop for it can get heavy on your wallet. I believe if you know how and where to save money when shopping, you can cut down your bill enormously. Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of money-saving hacks which I use each time the Christmas season comes around. With my family growing it’s important I start saving money right away so I can afford presents. Even if I don’t save as much as I’d like to, however, I can still reduce my spending with these awesome hacks.

I’ve also done some research looking for other great money-saving hacks online. So with my own ideas and more from the internet, here’s what we’ll be discussing today –

  • Plan for Affordability
  • Cashback or Card Benefits
  • Amazon Hidden Discounts
  • Look Around the House
  • Shop Abroad (not a joke)
  • Give to Charity

Let’s jump right in, and if you have some additional tips, please mention them in the comment box.

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1. Plan for Affordability

One of the biggest mistakes we make while shopping is getting caught up in emotions. This means we end up purchasing items we can rarely afford. This doesn’t always have to be the case. Ask yourself this question – Does an expensive gift really show how much I care? We often want to buy expensive gifts because of the sentimentality of the holidays, but then we’re scrambling to find ways to pay the bills.

Just remember you don’t need an expensive gift to show someone how much you care, especially when you’ve been showing them all year long. Like Paris Lees said, if someone doesn’t understand that you don’t have the cash to buy them a gift, they don’t deserve one. Next time, buy a gift that you can afford because you’re thinking about them, not because you want to impress. If you are out to impress you may find yourself in a difficult situation afterward.

2. Cashback or Card Benefits

When cash is tight there are lots of options out there to give you a helping hand. For example, if you really need money you can always apply for a loan or credit card. I would avoid loans because of the higher interest rates, but credit cards aren’t a bad alternative especially with cashback options being available through many. For example, American Express is currently running the shop small program aimed at helping local and small businesses. The program is a great money saver because they’ll give you $10 back when you spend $20 or more at a small or local business. If you can join such a program and find local shops to purchase presents from for Christmas, you’ll be able to save a nice amount of money.

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3. Amazon Hidden Discounts

Many online shopping sites have tricks up their sleeves to pull customers away from street shops. For example, Amazon runs lightening deals to entice people into buying heavily discounted products. It’s worth keeping an eye on these during the lead up to Christmas. You never know what you might see. Plus, Amazon’s shipping is pretty good so you don’t have to worry about getting your items in time for Christmas.

4. Look Around the House

This might sound kind of flaky but I have so many gifts laying around in my house I haven’t used. Some are home electronics, beauty items, baby gear, and clothing. Be selective if you decide to give these away because you want to make sure they are still in style and can be used. You needn’t tell the receiver that it’s an unwanted gift from someone else if it’s something they will enjoy, who cares!

5. eBay

Most people think of eBay and think it’s full of second-hand items, it’s actually not! It’s full of brand new items as well at, more often than not, cheaper prices than you would find in a store. Just make sure when you’re searching that you filter search results to be new items only. The website bidvoy is really handy for checking the price an item typical sells for on eBay, so you can quickly compare prices to stores to see how much you could save.

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Apart from the savings you can get on eBay, another great feature is that your purchases are protected. So if an item you ordered doesn’t turn up or it’s not as described, you can easily get a refund for it.

6. Brand Discount Stores

If you want to get a particular brand item for someone, instead of going direct to the brands’ store or website, try going to an outlet or store that sells multiple brands all under one roof. These places are typically cheaper and often carry last years stock or items that are selling a bit slower. That doesn’t mean the receiver won’t love them though, so give it a go!

The most important thing to remember at Christmas is that it’s a time to be with loved ones and enjoy each others company. Presents are great but don’t let them dominate the holiday.

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Featured photo credit: cdn.history via cdn.history.com

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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