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5 Smart Moves For Millennials To Boost Retirement Savings

5 Smart Moves For Millennials To Boost Retirement Savings

Retirement might not be coming your way for quite some time, but if you haven’t started planning for it yet, it’s possible that you’re already a bit behind. As the outlook on retirement looks dimmer and dimmer for our generation, the need to contribute early and often to a retirement savings fund becomes all the more important. Fortunately, there are several ways you can boost your savings now to build your funds faster and secure a more stable future for yourself in your older age.

Here are six smart moves you should be making now to boost your chances of building a sufficient fund for the future.

1. Automate Your Savings

Americans are notorious for neglecting the importance of building a savings account. Nearly seven out of ten Americans have less than $1000 in a savings account. One of the best ways to make sure you’re actually putting money away instead of spending it is to automate regular contributions to your savings accounts. Of course, you’ll want to automate your retirement savings so that a small amount comes out each month, but you’ll want to contribute to a personal savings account as well.

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Set up an automatic funds transfer between your checking and your savings account. Set an amount that is large enough to build funds over time, but small enough that it doesn’t break your bank each month. For your retirement savings, check with your employer to see if the company offers an automatic payroll deduction that contributes to your 401(k).

2. Take Advantage of 401(k) Matching

While you’re discussing your savings options with your employer, be sure to ask if the company offers 401(k) matching. Many companies will offer this to their full-time employees. In its simplest form, 401(k) matching means the company will match a percentage of your monthly contribution to your 401(k) with its own money to help you build funds more quickly.

Not all employers will offer 401(k) matching, but just asking about it can be helpful in putting the idea of implementing a matching program on their radar.

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Before you head in to talk to your employer, it will be helpful to have a little background information on what a matching program entails. Check out this guide for a quick overview of what a typical 401(k) matching program might look like.

3. Refinance Student Loan Debt

Debt from student loans is one of the most common factors affecting the millennial generation’s ability to put money away in a retirement savings account. In fact, about 40 million Americans are currently paying off student loan debt. Although it might seem like you’re stuck with the same monthly installments for the rest of your life, you actually have an option to lower your monthly payments and free up some of your monthly income to put away into your retirement savings account.

Refinancing student loan debt can help you adjust your payments to an amount that makes it easier to have enough money to save each month. The process can even help you identify ways to lower interest rates where possible.

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If you have any type of loan out, chances are you’ve received a letter from at least one company offering to help you refinance your debt. What you should know is that not all companies are equal in terms of their abilities to provide a trusted refinancing service. If you’re a bit new to the idea of refinancing, check out this guide to learn a little more about some of the top companies for refinancing student loan debt.

4. Cut the Cord on Cable

The average cable bill is around $99 a month. When you add on your internet connection, this will likely be an additional $20 to $45 per month for a standard connection. Add this up, and the amount you spend each month for entertainment gets pretty high! If you have a monthly cable subscription and are constantly wondering where your money went at the end of each month, this is likely one of the major culprits contributing to your lack of funds. This is why the trend of cutting the cord on cable is growing among the millennial generation.

Although most of us aren’t quite ready to cut the cord on internet, many of us are willing to nix cable and sacrifice the ability to binge watch marathons on our favorite channels to save about 100 bucks a month. You can sign up for a monthly streaming subscription like Hulu or Netflix for around $15 a month to replace cable and save big on your monthly expenses. All you need is a streaming device like Chromecast or Apple TV to stream content from your computer to your television.

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Cutting the cord will help you save quite a bit of money each month that will be put to better use in your retirement savings account.

5. Stick to the Same Car for Awhile

We all love the idea of cruising around in a beautiful new car, but what we often don’t realize is that we’re throwing a lot of money down the drain when we insist on swapping out cars every couple years or so.

Experts say that when an individual is able to stick to a plan of keeping a car for at least 10 years, they purchase half as many cars in their lifetime. This means you could save a huge amount of your money and be better set for retirement if you commit to owning a car for awhile before you look into a newer option. Not to mention, after the course of a three to five year loan, you’ll have at least another five years of debt-free ownership of your car if you keep it around for at least 10 years. This means more money in your monthly budget to put toward saving for retirement.

So there you have it, five smart ways you can save money now to boost your retirement savings and prepare for a comfortable lifestyle in the future. Hopefully these tips will help you establish a few healthy saving habits to build an effective retirement savings account. If you have any questions or perhaps a tip you’d like to add for other readers, comment below!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via static.pexels.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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