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9 Dumb Habits You Never Realized Make You Earn Less

9 Dumb Habits You Never Realized Make You Earn Less

We live in a capitalistic society; what that means is money is up for grabs for anyone with the ingenuity and perseverance to chase it. Jumping in a wind tunnel full of Ben Franklins and grabbing as much as you can is profitable, but you can’t do that for a living. Instead you have to plan and execute specific actions to ensure you remain financially solvent. If you want to spend your retirement years swimming in a vault full of coins like Scrooge McDuck, avoid these nine dumb habits that keep you from earning money.

1. Float Like a Social Butterfly.

Social media is a useful marketing tool, and every so often you need to connect with your followers. The problem comes when you spend all your time on social media. The likelihood of links posted in social media being clicked is dependent on how many followers you have. Expect a 1/1000 ratio (one person clicking a link for every thousand that view it) on average, and don’t waste all your time marketing on social media.

One of the easiest ways to avoid wasting time on social media is to avoid reading feeds. If you use Twitter to keep up with trending topics, make a list to ensure you’re only seeing the subsection of people you follow whose updates consistently keep you in the loop on topics you follow. Also, downloading a social media aggregator such as Hootsuite or RebelMouse will allow you to merge multiple social media accounts, so you can expand the reach of your message while minimizing time spent socializing. Now get back to working on something more important!

2. It’s Called a Lunch Hour for a Reason.

It’s OK to take breaks, and we have a great lifehack discussing the importance of them. If you work for a company, it’s mandatory they give you a break; if you work on your own, you need a lunch break to give you time away from working. An hour is usually a decent enough break, although 30-minute and two-hour lunches have their uses as well. The problem comes when your lunch takes up too much of your work day.

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You don’t want to eat a heavy meal that will make you lethargic, and as for heading to the movie theater every day at lunch: you’re triple-dipping into your resources, as you’re not being paid to work, spending money with no return, and wasting time that could be productive. If you’re going to take a long lunch, you need to make up the hours on the back-end, or you’ll never get ahead financially.

3. Waiting for the Right One.

Some people will turn down job offers because they’re waiting for the right one. This does have its advantages, but you can still be doing something to make money while you’re waiting. Instead of sitting by the phone, waiting for someone to call, try pursuing odd jobs, temp work, or selling art online.

You can also pick up freelance and temp work or get paid to blog as a guest expert. The internet is filled with ways to make money online. Make use of the time you’re waiting to make money by making money, or you’ll never make any money.

4. Me Fail English? Unpossible!

Communication is important; if not for communication, human beings would never have banded together to form society, invention, and the Internet. If you don’t know how to communicate what you want, you’ll never get it. It goes much deeper than just a grasp of the mechanics of English, though.

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The world is filled with people with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. It’s important to understand how to craft a message specific to your audience. Different words and phrases are taken different ways by people with different perceptions. Be sure to think carefully about the methods, words, and tone used when communicating for business. Otherwise you’ll come off as either overly wonky or out in left field. Either way, people will perceive you as incapable and won’t want to hire or pay you.

5. Motivated by Money.

It’s OK to be motivated by money, but it shouldn’t be the sole motivation driving you. In order to keep up with inflation, at the very least, you need a decent and consistent raise. We have several lifehacks discussing how to ask for a raise, and it all involves proving your worth before asking for more money. If the only reason you’re working is for money, it’ll show in your work. You may think you do enough, but there is always someone doing more, and they’ll get the hefty raise you wanted.

The same thing works for promotions; if a hiring manager has to choose between someone whose focus is on making more money vs someone whose focus is helping the company get ahead, it’s clear who will receive the promotion. We discuss other ways to get a promotion in this lifehack. By working on a career path you love, you’ll reach monetary bliss well before your financially-motivated foes.

6. The Early Bird Stole Your Worm.

I have a goal to see as many sunrises and sunsets as I can in my life. It’s OK to sleep in every so often, but according to the 11 sleep habits of successful people, waking up early (and consistently doing so) is the key to success. It may not be your personal key, but it is to someone; just because you’re sleeping in doesn’t mean everyone else is. If you sleep late, know you’ll have last pick of available jobs, gigs, and opportunities to make money.

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7. You Just Practice, Baby … Practice.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is being too scared to follow their dreams. You tell yourself there’s a risk, and the timing isn’t right, so you fall into neutral and treat your life as though it’s all just practice for some future event that never happens. Instead of looking into some unknown optimistic future, focus on the here and now. Treat your life like it’s always game day, and live like you’re never going to die. When you work hard enough, the money comes sooner or later (and loving what you do makes the wait easier).

8. I’ll Procrastinate Tomorrow.

Procrastination is the single biggest reason for loss of productivity. You may not want to do something right now, but you’re not going to want to do it later either. The time between now and then will be filled with stress and wasted thoughts about something you could already have done by now. Instead of putting things off, get to work!

I realize this is easier said than done, so we’ve prepared lifehacks to help you identify the types of procrastination, techniques to manage it, and ways to make procrastination productive for those inevitable times when you actually need to put things off. Combining these tools and techniques, you’ll be able to eliminate procrastination’s negative effects on your bank account.

9. You Quit While You’re Ahead.

Stop getting comfortable every time you get a paycheck – it’s the equivalent of stopping for gas at every gas station you pass while driving across the country. Payday Friday isn’t a day to run out and waste all your money on overpriced beer and appetizers (and yes I’m aware it’s “cheaper” during happy hour).

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Bonuses aren’t free money either – if you’re lucky enough to get an extra paycheck month, pay raise, bonus, etc, don’t overspend on your celebration, and don’t think now’s the time to sit back. Whoever gave you that money did so because they love what you do, and that love can fade quickly if you rest on your laurels. If you let your financial situation determine how hard you work, you’ll always be broke, because that’s the only time you’ll ever work hard.

Making money isn’t difficult; every year Forbes releases a list of people who make the majority of the money in the world. Instead of envying these people, pick up the pace. It’s a rat race out there, but if you navigate efficiently and run the maze fast enough, you can prove your worth by earning the money you think you deserve.

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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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