In a recent study by Franklin Templeton Investments, 41% of American workers haven’t even started saving for retirement and over 50% are concerned about not having enough savings in their golden years. If you belong in one of these groups, it’s up to you to start improving your finances. The smallest changes now can make immense differences for your retirement years.
Here are some tips on how you can start saving today.
- Save Your Change
If you pay in cash for something you are likely to receive change back. Instead of letting these coins fall out of your pocket onto the floor of your car or in-between the couch cushions, put them in a change jar. It’s a habit that’s easy to keep and coins add-up. After your jar is filled, exchange the coins for cash and put this amount in your savings account.
- Avoid Paying Credit Card Interest
The average U.S. household is carrying $15,762 in credit card debt. One way to avoid becoming part of this number is to pay cash for everything. It’s pretty simple – if you don’t have the immediate funds to pay for it, then you can’t buy it.
However, not everyone likes to carry cash around and some credit cards actually come with some pretty nice benefits. As an example, Citibank’s Double Cash Back Credit Card gives you 1% cash back with every purchase and an extra 1% whenever you pay off your balance. Take the cash back funds and deposit them into your savings account. I use this credit card and I have a personal rule that may also help you save money and avoid the dreaded interest payments: pay the entire credit card balance in full immediately. If I don’t have the money in my checking account to pay for the item I want to buy, I don’t buy it. Pay interest? No thank you.
If you do have to use a credit card and think interest just might not be avoidable every time, shop around for interest rates and benefits offered. If your credit card company is offering you nothing except the ability to use their card, it’s time to think about switching.
- Ask Twice If You Need It
Temptation is everywhere! Driving home from work you might smell delicious steaks cooking at the local restaurant or if you are at Target buying paper towels that big sale sign on the DVD kiosk might seem to be calling your name. If you are considering buying something that’s not a necessity, ask yourself twice if you really need it. Sure, the steak smells amazing, but maybe it’s better to save $40 and cook at home. Put that $40 you almost spent into your retirement account.
Every time you think you need something, determine if it’s really a need or just a want. If you decide the better choice is to walk away, put that amount you almost spent into your savings account. You might be surprised at how much money adds up.
- Take Advantage of Tax Breaks
If your company offers a 401(k) take advantage of this. The percentage of your paycheck that you deposit into the 401(k) does not get taxed. Less taxes = a happier you! If your company also offers a matching program, be sure to meet at least this amount. For example, if your employer offers a 6% match then try to contribute at least 6% of your paycheck to your 401(k) or else you are losing out on free money! Also keep in mind that charitable contributions along with some other expenses are tax deductible.
With these tips, I mentioned to put what you end up saving into a savings account. Like a credit card, a savings account is another financial product you should shop around for in regards to interest. Unlike a credit card though, the interest that comes with a savings account is a good thing! The higher the better! If you only have a checking account, you’re once again losing out on “free” money. Savings accounts can be opened through your bank, credit union, or even online. Financial institutions all offer different interest rates, required minimum/maximum balances, and fees so shopping around is essential.
Every little bit counts, as they say, so start saving for your future now. The sooner you start the more you will have because of accumulating interest. Your retirement years may be far off yet, so that gives your money time to grow. Make saving for your future a habit.