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10 Things Learnt From The Two Roommates Who Saved More Than $55,000 A Year

10 Things Learnt From The Two Roommates Who Saved More Than $55,000 A Year

Reading the story of Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz and Julie Phillips, who saved $55,000 dollars in one year by choosing to buy nothing, brings back memories of when my wife and I first got married back in August of 2010.

Coming out of college was rough for both of us. Like most new college graduates, we were broke and had no money.

However, on the night of our honeymoon, we decided to make a savings goal. Our plan was have twenty thousand dollars in cash saved by August 2011. Sarah was still in school at the time, so we were going to have to accomplish this intimidating goal on the salary of an assistant manager in the retail industry.

As you can imagine, this wasn’t easy. Saving money is a lifestyle change; one that is more than anything, mentally and emotionally draining. Like Geoffrey and Julie, Sarah and I also lost friends. We also had doubts and many times wanted to quit.

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However we stuck it out and reached our goal just a few days shy of the one year mark. The decision we made to save gave us a sense of security and peace of mind.

Hopefully you too will find these ten tips I learned useful as you plan to save money.  They are simple and very actionable.

 1. Check your pride; you will need to live minimally.

If you want to save money, you cannot be sold out to the cultural expectation of having nice things. This is because you will need to adopt a minimalist mindset if you are to be successful. Do not confuse minimalism for self-denial. I mean you don’t need a fancy car with a monthly payment. You may have to drive a beat up clunker for a while.  Keep your clothing simple, no buying fancy designer outfits.  Like Geoffrey, you will have to delay the pleasures of travel and consumerism.

2. Decide how much you want to save

You must have a tangible goal set.  Look at your income and decide how much of it you want left your bank account at the end of the year.  Geoffrey decided to save 65% of his take home pay while I decided to save 50% of mine. There is no magic number, just decide how much of your hard earned money you would like to keep. There is an alternative to being a consumer, and it is being a saver.

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3. Whatever is left is your take home pay/ Allocate wisely

Say you make $3,800 after taxes a month and you want to save twenty thousand in one year like Sarah and I did, you will need to save $1,670 every month. This means that you only make $2,130 a month.

That is all you have for rent, gas, groceries, gym memberships, fun money etc. Make sure you allocate wisely.

4. Keep your rent or mortgage no more than 25% of your net income, or get a room mate

This means that your rent or house payment cannot be more than 532.50 if you use my example.

Sarah and I moved into a 350 square foot apartment for 315 a month that year. Geoffrey moved in with Julie to save money on the rent.

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5. The quickest way to get a fifty percent raise is to cut your bills in half

I eliminated my gym membership fee ($60 a month) by working part time as a personal trainer at my local gym. I also cancelled my cable service ($180 a month) for Netflix ($8 a month). We also cut our grocery bill in half by sticking to simple diet foods (rice, chicken, potatoes etc.) I also biked to work, while Sarah walked to class ($200 in gas). All in all by cutting our bills in half, it was as if I received an extra $500 a month. Julie quit going out to eat all together and Geoffrey went as far as to quit getting haircuts.

6. Designate an accountability partner

Every month end, I would show my good friend Jeffery my account balance. Knowing that he was going to see my deposits was enough motivation to deter me from dipping into my savings. If my account was at $1,670 on January 31st, it had to be at $3,340 on February 28th.  Geoffrey and Julie created a website and blog to let the world in on what they were doing and used this medium to keep themselves accountable

7. Save first, pay bills latter.

Saving money is all about priorities. It was my priority to pay myself first. Nothing else mattered.

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8. You may lose some friends

Remember that we are social creatures and as such, your friends may not understand the commitment you are making to secure your financial future. Don’t take it personal. The same people who are now asking you why you are doing it, will eventually ask you how you did it.

9. Don’t try to “keep up with the Joneses”

Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. For all you know, they may be broke or living pay check to paycheck. Be careful about being pressured to spend especially when you are around friends who make more than you do.

10. Reward your self

Every couple of months, reward yourself. Set aside up to $200 for something you may want to splurge on. This is more of a necessary mental break.

Good luck! May you be able to put away exactly the amount of money you hoped for!

Featured photo credit: Julie Phillips and Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz via finance.yahoo.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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