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7 Tips to Keep You Warm This Winter Without Adversely Affecting Your Wallet

7 Tips to Keep You Warm This Winter Without Adversely Affecting Your Wallet

As winter beckons us once again, it is time to start planning ways to keep oneself warm without adversely pinching your wallet. Below are a few inexpensive ways that will go a long way in keeping you warm this winter.

1. Reduce Heating Bills:

Heating, can undoubtedly be the biggest cost to pinch you during this winter. But there are many common-sense approaches to ease the cost:

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  • Add an extra layer of clothing while lowering the temperature on the thermostat heater.
  • Ensure that your footwear has rubber soles. Rubber is a bad conductor of heat and keeps your feet warm. Additionally it also prevents you from slipping on slippery roads during winter.
  • Shut tightly the doors and windows that are not in use.
  • Draw insulated curtains over your windows to seal drafts and prevent the heat loss within the room.
  • Leave the oven open after cooking, and let it fill up your kitchen with not just heat but also the sweet smell of food.

2. Increase Humidity:

Leave a bowl full of water in your bedroom overnight. That would increase the humidity in the room, and humidity (water) conducts heat away from the body ~25 times faster than dry air. Additionally, this would prevent your skin from getting dry thus cutting down on expensive cold creams and moisturizer.

3. Exercise More:

Physical activity helps in increasing the metabolic rate, and accelerates body heat production. Cardiovascular exercise increases the blood circulation in the body, while strength training will increase heat production in the muscles. All of this together helps in keeping you warm. Moreover, exercise increases serotonin production in the brain, which is an excellent natural, healthy, and inexpensive way of boosting your moods during the dreary winter months.

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4. Cut Alcohol:

It is a myth that alcohol keeps you warm. Consumption of alcohol causes expansion of blood vessels in the skin, and impairs the body’s natural ability to regulate the temperature. It is true, that a swig of brandy gives you a brief sense of warmth. But that is because it causes blood to rush directly to the surface of the skin. This is not really helpful since it allows the cold to enter the body. Moral of the story… cut down on the alcohol, and you will not only feel warmer but also have some spare change in your wallet.

5. Take Cold Showers:

This may seem counter-intuitive, but cold showers help improve blood circulation, and that in turn helps to keep you warm. A hot shower, causes the blood to move towards the surface of the skin, giving you a fleeting sense of warmth, while cold water makes the blood rush back to your vital organs. The ideal method would be switching between hot and cold showers. However, that might seem too torturous for most people. A good compromise would be to start with a hot shower and gradually progress towards a cold shower. This would not shock your body, would cut down on the expenses of heating the water, and most importantly keep you warm.

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6. Eat Whole Grains:

Whole grains (Wheat, Brown Rice, Oats, Quinoa, Barley, Millet) can give instant source of energy and fuel to keep you warm during the harsh winters. Whole grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates. They warm up the body, due to their quick digestion. Moreover, they are a source of vitamin B, magnesium and other nutrients that regulate the adrenal glands, which in turn regulates the body temperature and keeps you warm. In addition, stews and broths are easy to make and offer the warmth and comfort necessary to beat the winter blues.

7. Get Cozy:

Cuddling naked with your significant other (or a dog, if you are single) under a blanket will warm you up faster than a fleece sweater. Apart from being energy-efficient, there may be other added benefits as well. Have I missed out on your favorite ways to keep warm this winter? If yes, then please let me know about them in the comments. I would love to hear your suggestions :)

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Featured photo credit:  Cute mutt wearing a vintage hat via Shutterstock

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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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