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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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Published on October 8, 2018

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

1. Choose a major category each month to attack

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

2. Only make major purchases in the morning

If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

4. Read one-star reviews for products

Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

9. Budget using cash and envelopes

As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

10. Join a like-minded group

Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

11. Reward Yourself

When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

12. Take the Buddhist approach

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

Conclusion

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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