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If You Want To Save More Money, Own These Money-Saving Items

If You Want To Save More Money, Own These Money-Saving Items

Did your latest savings campaign end slowly, dribbling to a halt as you realized you weren’t saving as much money as you wanted or needed to?

It happens to all of us – good intentions and determined willpower slowly fade as we fail to meet our savings objectives.  With the right tools, however, maintaining budget-friendly habits and systems is infinitely easier. Support your financial ambitions and save more money by stocking your home, workspace and vehicle with the money-saving items shared here.

Around the home:

Ceiling Fans

Running ceiling fans counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter can lower both your cooling and heating bills.  The rotation disperses cooled or heated air, meaning less energy is required to establish and maintain the desired temperature in the space.  During moderate heat, the increased air flow from a ceiling fan may mean that you don’t even need to run your air conditioner.  Your budget will thank you, as your utility bill takes a nose dive.  Don’t know how to change the direction on your fan? Get up on a ladder and take a look – most have a switch on the side – or call the manufacturer directly.

UV-blocking Curtains

UV-blocking curtains can drastically reduce both your heating and cooling bills. Now, energy-efficient curtains are available in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can find them to match any decor in local home goods or even hardware stores.  Live somewhere particularly frigid in the winter? Put up liners during cold months to lock heat in even more effectively.  No matter what kind of curtains you have, remember to keep them drawn during particularly warm spells.

Reduced-flow Shower heads

Look for a shower head that allows you to select the flow rate, or one that automatically adjusts.  While it can be a pain to try to rinse shampoo out of long hair with inadequate water, you simply don’t need a high rate of flow for most needs.  Families in particular can save hundreds of dollars each year by installing reduced-flow heads into each of their bathrooms.

Toilets with Options

Think it takes the same amount of water to flush #1 and #2?  You’re right – it doesn’t, and if you’ve never thought about it, time you should!  While graphic, the amount of water used in your toilets each year adds up on your bill.  For about $100, you can install toilets with dual flush options, which means you don’t have to use extra water unless you need it.

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Grocery and Shopping Bags

Regularly ponying up $10 for small trash can liners for bathrooms, laundry rooms, or guest rooms?  Use grocery bags instead.  They’re the perfect size, reusing them is good for the environment, and you already paid for them when you made your purchase.  Grocery bags can also be used to clean up after your pet at the park, or stock your car for emergency spills.

Rechargeable Batteries

Whether your home is full of kid’s toys that eat batteries alive, or you need to fuel flashlights, smoke detectors, appliances, and more, rechargeable batteries make a lot of sense.  While they may require frequent recharging, they will save you over the long run.  Bonus benefit: no more grunts of frustration when you realize that you are out of the type of battery you need.  Remember to unplug chargers when they are not in use; anything plugged in will use energy that you pay for.

Clothes drying rack

Your dryer requires electricity, which can raise your utility bill sky high. Keep the bill in check by doing a bit o’ good for the environment by drying your clothes on a rack or line. Folding drying racks can be found at any home goods or superstore.  Or, hang a rod and line with materials readily found at hardware stores.

In Your Kitchen:

Cooler

Heading out with friends this weekend? Instead of meeting at a restaurant, stock a cooler with items from the grocery store and picnic at a local beach, garden, or park. Coolers really pay off for families who stock them with food from home and bring them to local entertainment venues. Many zoos, aquariums and parks allow you to bring your own food.

Insulated lunch box

Brown-bagging it during the week is a whole lot more attractive (and safe) when cheeses, meats, sandwich materials, fruits, and vegetables are kept at an appetizing and safe temperature for lunch-time consumption.  Look for a soft shell bag that can be compressed to fit inside a large purse or briefcase post-lunch.  Keep your lunch box in your car when not in use, to make it easy to slide leftovers into when you grab dinner on the go.

Coffee Pot

Make the daily runs to Starbucks a thing of the past, and save hundreds, if not thousands, every year. Brewing that cup o’ joe at home in the company of friends could also provide a substitute for costly weekend brunches or catch-up coffees, as well.  For added convenience, select a model that allows you to set a brew time, and wake up to that coffee aroma you love.

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Insulated Beverage Container

Take your second (or third, or fourth) morning cups of coffee on the road with you in an insulated beverage container.  Bonus: that same container can hold smoothies, soups, and other items you prepare yourself to save money.

Blender

Make your own smoothies, juices, baby foods, and more with a heavy-duty blender. Not only will you save money, but you can ensure you get that flavor you like exactly right, every time.  Earn extra savings points by only blending with in-season fruits and vegetables to lower your grocery bill even further.

Crockpot

Think you don’t have time to cook? Toss meat and vegetables in the pot in the morning, turn it to low, and have a delicious meal waiting when you get back from work.  Extras can be frozen for another day, meaning yet another meal you won’t have to cook for.

Glass Food Storage Containers

Available in a variety of sizes, glass storage containers are the healthiest way to store leftovers. Anytime you cook at home, cook extra – not only will you have plenty to toss in that fancy lunchbox the next day, but preparing food in larger quantities means you can buy it in larger volume and take advantage of bulk discounts.

Deep Freezer, or refrigerator with large freezer capacity

Having hefty freezing capabilities means you can buy and cook in bulk, then freeze.  Can’t see yourself ever using pounds of meat or gallons of soup? Split bulk-buying costs with a friend, and ask them to chip in a few dollars to use your freezer.

Chalkboard

Create a grocery list as you run out of items, as well as any other items you need to stock up.  Stick to the list during weekly errands to minimize impulse spending; numerous studies show that shopping with a list can drastically cut your bill.

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In Your Office:

File Folder, Envelope, Paper Clips, Binder

… or whatever is most useful to you in tracking and logging receipts for all purchases and expenditures.  You can’t save more effectively, if you don’t know where your money is going in the first place.  Analyze your spending habits at several points during the month to allow for time to correct for any wayward expenditures.  At the end of each month, scrutinize ways to improve your savings rate even more.

Internet at Home

Shop online retailers, or the online warehouses of your favorite stores, for virtual discounts and deals.  Don’t want to shell out more for wireless? Talk to your phone provider – many smartphones can be used as a hub, within the limits of your data plan.

“Smart” Power Strips

If you use a computer at home, or run multiple devices like a laptop, printer, stereo, and so on from your desk, this item is a “must have.” The power strip focuses power usage on the devices you’re actually using, reducing the energy sent to the others and negating “phantom charge.” While some consider unplugging energy from gadgets you’re not actually using to be a waste of time, consider that the charges aren’t so “phantom” when they show up on your bill.

In Your Living Room:

In-Home Entertainment Subscription

Regularly shelling out $25 to see the latest movie on the big screen? For far less, you can have unlimited entertainment at home through Netflix or similar entertainment options.  At-home entertainment can also be a great option for a date night or fun evening in with friends that saves you all money.

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In Your Garage and Yard:

Patio or In-Ground Garden

Whether it’s a single planter with basic herbs on a windowsill, pots of tomatoes on your porch, or an extensive in-ground plot, gardening will cut your produce bill.  Having plants around may also reduce stress and improve the overall quality of your living environment, cutting doctor’s bills and the need for that stress-busters class you pay for each week.

Loose Change Jar

Every penny you lose is a penny that could be spent reducing debt, contributed to an emergency fund, or otherwise constructively employed. Keep track of them and give yourself a visually encouraging boost with a loose change jar in an easily accessible location.  Decide how you’ll use the money before you toss in the coins, and delight at how quickly it adds up.

In Your Wallet:

Library Card

Make Barnes & Noble (and their expensive, tempting coffee bar) a thing of the past by checking out books at your local library.  Many libraries also maintain subscriptions to popular magazines.  While you may not be able to check them out, you can enjoy them at the library.

Membership to a Warehouse or Bulk Discount Club

If you turn up your nose at the thought of bulk shopping, it might be high time to check out your nearest Costco or Sam’s Club.  These retailers often carry organics, clothing, household goods, furniture, and office supplies.  If you truly can’t use anything in bulk, or lack room to store it, split the membership with a friend and buy items you both use, together.

Bonus Savings if You Have:

A Friend or Co-Worker Willing to Ride Share

Always drive yourself? Consider teaming up with a friend during weekend outings, or better yet, find a coworker who can help your commute.  You’ll save money in gas, mileage-based insurance and, over time, vehicle maintenance.

Thirsty for more tips and tricks? Check out these 55 Practical Ways to Save Money Efficiently.

Featured photo credit: Kristina Zuidema via flickr.com

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

Reference

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