Build a strong savings strategy
Getting into a savings routine - no matter how much you make - will strengthen your financial health.
Automate your savings. While larger goals of financial independence are always on your horizon, don't forget to keep your eye on the immediate future. Start by putting a set amount of each check into a savings account (and automate it). Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account or automatic deposits into your savings from your paycheck can help make saving more successful. Out of sight, out of mind!
Think about living more simply. Since the recession, living simply or down-sizing your lifestyle has become a point of pride for many of us. This is often a first step to ramping up your ability to save.
Get your family involved. Setting goals together can increase your success. Saving more will typically mean spending less. That's easier when everyone is on the same page with a goal in mind.
Start early. Time is your friend with the power of compounding. Compound interest simply means that the interest you earn then earns more interest. For example, if you want to save a million dollars for your retirement and you are 20, you need to save an estimated $360 a year. If you wait to start saving until you are 35, you need to save $990 a year¹.
Keep an eye on your interest rates. For the first time in years we are seeing an increase in interest rates. It's a good idea to evaluate what you are earning on your savings to see if you can get a better deal.
Lower your payments. Got a car loan? Mortgage payments? Try refinancing before rates get higher, or jump to a lower rate when available. You can also refinance to a fixed-rate loan to keep your rate consistent. Consider combining your debt into one low-rate credit card or consolidation loan. You'll save money by paying less interest over pay over time.
Get an investment review. A financial advisor can help you stay on top of market changes and health of the economy, finding the level of risk that is right for your financial goals.
Get a pulse on your retirement savings. Whether you just got your first job or you've been working for a few years, it's never too early to start planning for your retirement. Both traditional and Roth IRAs offer different tax-based benefits-and many employer sponsored retirement plans offer matching contributions. Also, you should check that your Social Security benefits accurately reflect your earnings. You can see your estimated benefits and confirm that your earnings are captured correctly at SSA.gov.
Save more at tax time. Do you get a tax refund every year? Many people see a refund as a yearly bonus, but it's also a great opportunity to instantly improve your finances. You can pay off a credit card, pay down a high-interest balance, or put it towards a home equity loan if you need to make home improvements. Or place it in a high rate savings account, money market savings account or invest it in a certificate to increase your growth power.