You won't miss the money you're saving if it never passes through your fingers. "Combine your direct deposit with an online savings account," suggests Matthew Coan, owner of the financial website Casavvy.com. "A part of each paycheck goes into a risk-free account that earns interest." It's an effortless way to save.
There is a tendency to automatically rely on banks that are near home, work or along travel paths, but the most convenient location is not always the best option. "Shop around for banks based on your needs," says financial expert Denise Beeson. "Don't pay for services you don't need or for services that you use regularly (such as an ATM)." Beeson recommends interviewing at least three banks or credit unions after you've assessed your banking needs.
Talk to your bank about overdraft protection… just in case. Many banks don't actively promote this beneficial service, but it can save you a lot of money (more than $30 per bounced check) when you've overestimated your account balance.
When an emergency pops up, it's easy to immediately dip into savings or visit a payday lender — a recipe for disaster. "If you have good credit, the line of credit is a good option when you need emergency cash," says Beeson.
It takes work to create and maintain a household budget, and it is well worth the effort. "Many banks and credit unions have online budget tools," says Beeson. "They can help you stay within your budget each month and watch where your money goes." Along with your monthly financial responsibilities, list things that you want to save for. That way, when you have extra money, you'll know exactly where to put it.
Making late payments can be costly. You may incur late fees ($35 for a missed payment) and adjusted APRs on your outstanding balance. Keep a calendar of due dates, and make sure your payments are timely. If you are paying via snail mail, be sure to allow about five business days for your check to reach its destination.
Rein in your buying impulses. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we are not a generation that practices delayed gratification. Before you spend money on anything, consider whether you need it or simply want it.
Consider the opportunity cost. Ask yourself: If I buy this, then how much longer will it take to save for that special thing (that car, vacation or home) that I've been wanting to get?
Precious metals offer a fantastic means by which to save money. "I have always encouraged people to take a small portion of their income and purchase gold or silver bullion coins," says Matt at LegalAdvice.com.
"A single 1-ounce silver coin is worth $20 today and 15 years ago was $4," says Matt. "A 1-ounce gold coin, worth $250 15 years ago, is worth $1,300 today.
Starting a business might seem like a costly endeavor, but it may add to your bankroll down the road.
Buy a property to rent out. "Even if the payments don't cover the mortgage, you're still saving for later in life," says Sev Meneshian, president of Public Retirement Planners and adjunct professor of estate planning and retirement at Northwestern University.
Turn a hobby into a home business. "A business is a retirement plan," says Meneshian. You're already spending time on your favorite hobby, why not cash in on it?
Become an author. "Write an e-book and collect the royalties for years," suggests Meneshian.
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