Image by: Keoni Cabral
By Dexter Lunde
Saving for your future may seem like a daunting task. All of this money that you could be spending on immediate gratification is being stored away like squirrels moving around acorns. It may sound “boring” and like a tedious chore, but it is truly satisfying and worthwhile. And in the future, you will be handsomely rewarded.
If you haven’t been saving for your retirement, now is the perfect time to start. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are in, as long as you have an income you can start saving for the future.
If you don’t know where to start, consider saving around $1000 a month. If you don’t have that much, bump it down to $500 a month and steadily increase how much you put in as you professionally grow. If you can afford one lump sum, consider investing $1000 and adding $100 to that investment every month or every paycheck. As you can see, saving for your retirement can be very flexible. To show you the versatility of investing, check out these different ways that you can save and invest for your future.
First let’s cover the basics. What’s a 401(k)? It is a retirement plan that is sponsored by your employer. In this plan, you put in a portion of your paycheck (either before or after taxes, you have to read up on your particular plan), which is saved and invested for you. They are named after a particular tax code that they follow. With 401(k)’s you are also in control of how your money is invested.
Let’s say that you want to invest an extra $1000 a year. That’s not much, right? It’s merely $83 extra a month, which boils down to about $20.75 a week. That’s a dinner at a restaurant. So instead of going out to dinner once a week, invest that money.
2) YOU’RE YOUR BEST ASSET
Personal improvement will help you in many ways. Learning new things will help strengthen your mind, which will keep you healthier longer. And by having more skills it will help you be more of an asset in your profession, which will guarantee your job and possibly a promotion.
3) STOCK-ING UP
If you’re just looking to supplement what you’ve already got with some extra investments, consider putting your money in the stock market. Go to a financial advisor to see what your best option is when it comes to stocks.
4) HOME IMPROVEMENT AND TOOL TIME
For all of you handymen out there, you will be happy to know that you can turn your hobby into something that will eventually lead you to more money.
Doing “small” projects like replacing your door with a better one (like a 20-gauge steel door) will cost you money now but if you intend on selling your home, it could help up the resale value of your home. The same goes for garage doors and windows.
Fixing up your bathroom will also increase the resale value of your home. Bathrooms are small and (if you have more than one full bathroom in your home), you can take your time with projects. Otherwise, pick a small part of the bathroom that you can improve upon every weekend.
If you’re looking to spruce up your home on a bigger scale with a “quick” weekend project, consider repainting your home (inside and/or out). Go room by room. Pick up to date colors and the right type of paint to keep the color bright and to ensure that it lasts long. Also look at molding and tile backsplashes in the bathroom.
If you have less of a handyman bone in your body and more of a green thumb, work on the landscaping of your home. This will also have a potential long-term payoff.
5) PWN YOUR BOSS
Investing your money is all about putting it in a place that will make you more money. Since investing in the stock market is all about putting your money with other peoples’ businesses, why not just put it toward your own business?
The cheapest business to get into is freelance or contract work. Most of these require that you have a proficiency that makes you stick out. So do the research. What talent do you have that makes you special (not like “My mommy says that I’m a special little boy” but unique and interesting to the public)? Take a look at your hobbies.
Are you good at photography? That business is booming right now. Are you a writer? Websites and businesses are always looking for good content. Are you good with computers? Are you into designing websites? Are you an artist? Are you overly organized – could you be a virtual assistant, organizer, or an event planner?
There are many different ways to assess what you can offer the public. You just need to find that in order to get started.
If you don’t have $1000 (or even $500) to invest in a business, look into cheaper services which don’t require much in terms of start-up assets: dog walking services, day car, lawn maintenance, detailing cars, etc.
6) DEBT FREE IS THE WAY TO BE
Let’s say that you’re in your thirties. You’ve got a 401(k). You just moved into a place with your brand new wife (with a baby on the way). All that you’re missing is the white picket fence. While you realize that saving for retirement is a life-long process, you’re looking to live your life still and you want practical ways to save money while you start your family.
At this point in your life, you should be looking closely at paying off all of your debt. You don’t want student loans and credit card debt hanging over your head while you’re in your forties and you’re trying to actively save up for retirement. So look into paying off all of your (non-mortgage) debt so that you have a clean slate to work with in the future.
7) TAKE A LOOK UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
When you came up with your budget, you were probably in your twenties. You just moved into an apartment and you wanted enough money to eat more than ramen for dinner but enough to allow you to buy some fun toys when you’re bored.
Unfortunately, we all need to grow up out of that stage. Your budget should change and fluctuate as you grow older and move into different life stages: marriage, kids, professional changes, retirement, etc. Take a look at your current life status and placement to see what are the best options for you.