America Saves Week

Save As A Family

Teaching your children to save can be fun. Saving as a family can be rewarding for all and helps teach children the all important lessons of financial literacy.

Good savings habits start at home. Whether you’re budgeting, saving, making retirement decisions, or assessing workplace benefits, share the choices you make with your children, no matter their age.

Take, for example, my two oldest grandchildren, T’Aliyah (10) and Tavarius (9), I am teaching them how to manage their allowance and any financial gifts they receive. They kick and scream, but when I pull up their accounts and show them their balances, they are pretty proud of themselves and what they have achieved.

Now Tevin (6) and A’Lona (5) are a little bit different. They don’t receive an allowance, but they do have money from time to time. I teach them to spend some and to put some in their piggy banks. They get to feel how heavy their banks are and they each have a picture of something they want, so when they reach the price of the toy they can take part of their savings and buy it. Little do they know they have the amount right now, but I don’t want them to use all of their savings to buy a toy, so that will be my secret.

I love to discuss saving with them and setting savings goals. I also tell them about mine and Pop Pops savings goals. Since they live in the home with me, it really gives them a sense that they are included in our financial well being. It also teaches them financial literacy. Here are some suggestions on how you can teach your little ones to save.

START WITH A PIGGY BANK

A piggy bank can be a great way to teach your kids the importance of saving while giving them an easy way to do it.  Tell your kids that the goal is to fill up the piggy bank with dollars and coins until there is no room.  Illustrate that the piggy bank is for saving money for the future and that the more they save, the more their money will grow.

OPEN UP A BANK ACCOUNT

Once the piggy bank is full, take your child to the bank to open up a savings account for them.  Have them count how much money is going to be deposited, so they can have a physical understanding of how much money they have.  Show them the final number and reinforce the idea of interest.

It can provide a great source of motivation for your kids if they understand that their money will grow over time as long as they don’t touch it.  A great example of compound interest is to show how doubling a penny once every day for 30 days will eventually generate $10 million dollars!

USE SAVINGS JARS

When your kids really want the latest and greatest toy or a new action figure, let them know they will have to save up for it.  Give them a jar for each of their desired purchases and offer them a small allowance each week in a denomination that encourages savings.

For example, if you give your child five dollars a week, give it to them in one dollar bills.  They can save all their cash for one purchase, or they can contribute to different “jars” for various savings goals.

To encourage saving up for their short-term goals, put a picture of their desired toy or item on the jar, so they have a visual reminder of what they are working towards.

CREATE A TIMELINE

As a kid, the concepts of money and time can be hard to grasp. Research has shown that the impact of a one-hour financial lesson wears off after about five months. In order to make the message stick, money education should be timely and ongoing.  If you know your child receives a $50 check for their birthday each year, the moment to talk about budgeting is right before receiving that check.

One way to keep money lessons ongoing is to create a timeline so that your child can visualize when they will reach their goal.

Let’s say you give them five dollars a week and they want to save up fifty dollars.  If they saved one hundred percent of their allowance, they’d reach their goal in ten weeks, or roughly three months.

Start by getting a long piece of paper and a marker.  Have $0 on one side and $50 (or whatever goal amount) on the other side.  Create checkpoints on the paper for when they reach 25%, 50% and 75% of their goal.

Every time an amount is saved, draw a line illustrating how much was saved.  Let your kids know that they will get small rewards at each checkpoint. Small rewards can encourage kids to keep going.  Visuals are also helpful in illustrating their savings goals and how their money is growing.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Children learn by example, so the best way to teach your child about saving money is to save money yourself.  Have your own jar of money that you put funds in regularly.  When you’re out shopping, show your children how to discern between various prices and explain why buying one item makes better sense than another.

Reiterate the message that every time you get paid, you save a portion of your check to help prepare for the future.

START A CONVERSATION

One of the most important things you can do is to start a conversation about money and the importance of saving. Money doesn’t have to be scary or a taboo.  Use financial discussions as teachable moments. An innocent question such as “Are we rich?” can be answered in a way that emphasizes family values, such as hard work and responsible spending.

Let your children know they can have an allowance, but it’s up to them to save up for things they really want.  In addition, illustrate how much their money can grow over time if they save.

Also, discuss the difference between needs and wants and tell your children you are always open to talking about money and new ways to save.  Ask them about what they want to save up for.  Ask them what they want their future to look like.

Asking good questions can get them to think long-term and have a positive relationship with money.  Letting them know you’re always open to having a conversation about money can encourage them to ask questions of their own to keep learning.

Teaching kids how to save money may seem like a tough task.  It has even been said that parents are more likely to talk to their children about sex than about money.  But using these tips, you can make your child’s understanding of money fun and accessible.  It’s an investment in knowledge which truly pays the best interest.

What methods do you use to teach your children to save? Pop them in the comments, I am always looking for new things to incorporate into my grandchildren’s financial literacy program.

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Save Your Extra Money

We all like receiving windfalls, but what we do with them is the difference in being financially responsible and financially irresponsible. Here are some things you can do with your windfalls that will allow you to have some fun and do some not so fun things.

We’re more likely to save a windfall than a small amount consistently over a long period of time. Hack that psychology by saving your bonuses, raises, and tax refunds. This tax season, get ahead of your financial goals by saving at least $50.

I’ve seen it all down my timeline on Facebook, and I know you have too. I’ve been on the same end of the windfall spending spectrum, so I am not judging, however, when I learned better I began to do better. Many people are talking about receiving their income tax checks. I have watched people ball till they fall. Then they get an attitude when someone with financial knowledge tries to share other options to set them up for the future.

I am not saying you have to take all of your windfalls, whether they be income tax, inheritances, bonuses from work, or some other type, take a portion of them and fund some type of savings account. You see, when you receive a windfall it’s like you’ve been given a second chance. Although you may have made money mistakes in the past, you now have a chance to fix those mistakes (or some of them, anyhow) and start down the path of smart money management.

It can be tempting (as I well know) to spend your windfall on toys, trips, and other things that you “deserve,” but doing so will leave you in the same place you were before you received the windfall. And if that place was chained to debt, you’ll be just as unhappy as you’ve always been.

I’ve received a few windfalls. With time, I’ve developed a system for handling these situations and I’d like to share this system with you.

If you receive a chunk of cash, I recommend that you:

  1. Keep 5 percent to treat yourself and your family. Let’s be realistic. If you receive $1,000 or $10,000 or $100,000 unexpectedly, you’re going to want to spend some of it. No problem. But don’t spend all of it. I suggest spending 5 percent on fun. That means $50 of a $1,000 windfall, $500 of a $10,000 windfall, or $5,000 of a $100,000 windfall. Don’t be tempted to spend more!
  2. Pay any taxes due. Depending on the source of your money, you might owe taxes on it at the end of the year. If you forget this fact and spend the money, you can end up in a bind when the taxes come due. Consult a tax professional. If needed, set aside enough to pay your taxes before you do anything else.
  3. Pay off debt. Doing so will generally provide the greatest possible return on your investment (a 20 percent return if your credit cards charge you 20 percent). It’ll also free up cash flow; if you pay off a card with a $50 minimum monthly payment, that’s $50 extra you’ll have available each month. Most of all, repaying debt will relieve the psychological weight you’ve been carrying for so long. Don’t underestimate the feeling of freedom that comes from no longer having creditors.
  4. Fix the things that are broken. After you’ve eliminated any existing debt, use your windfall to repair whatever is broken in your life. Start with your own health. If you’ve been putting off a trip to the dentist or a medical procedure, take care of it. Do the same for your family. Next, fix your car or the roof or the sidewalk. Use this opportunity to patch up the things you’ve been putting off.
  5. Deposit the rest of the money in a safe account. It can be tempting to spend the rest of your windfall on a new car or new furniture or new house. Don’t do it. Take some time to breathe. After attending to your immediate needs, deposit the remaining money in a new savings account separate from the rest of your bank accounts. Be sure that the account is as difficult to access as possible — no ATM card, no easy transfer to your other accounts, no nothing. (An online savings account is good for this. So is an account at a small, local bank in the next town over.)
  6. Make a wish list. Allow your initial emotion to pass, getting over the urge to spend the money now. Live as you were before. Meanwhile, spend some time learning how far your windfall could go. Most people have unrealistic expectations about how much $10,000 or $100,000 can buy. Resist the temptation to spend the money now, but do run the numbers to see what you could buy.

Saving a portion of your windfall will take you a long way to your savings goals. Tell me what you do with your windfalls.

For more creative way’s to save, book a consultation with me and we set up a savings plan.

Book with tracie

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Save For Your Childrens Retirement

Most people don't think about saving for retirement for their children or grandchildren. I was pleasantly surprised that I am able to not only save for my own retirement but for the retirement of my grandchildren.

Yes, you read that right, save for your children’s retirement. Now hear me out, because I am not crazy. As a matter of fact, I wish this tool had been around when my children were small. When you think about it, it’s nice that we as parents and grandparents can contribute to our future generations in such an amazing way.

As we continue with America Saves Week, most people are thinking about saving for their own retirement, and that’s good. But why not save for your children at the same time. I am all for giving my future generations a financial leg up. When my retirement fund provider began offering it, I had to jump on it. It’s called a Kiddie Roth (ROTH IRA for kids). Now doesn’t that just beat all!.

The Kiddie IRA works much like your own IRA. It’s funded by after tax savings and the account grows tax free. Keep in mind though, there are a couple of exceptions. The Kiddie Roth is a custodial account for children under 18. It is funded and controlled by an adult, usually a parent or a grandparent. Control is transferred to the child once they become an adult.

Just like a regular IRA, the saver must have earned the income to fund the account. Just think, if your child or grandchild has a  job you can have them take part of their earnings and start the Kiddie Roth for them, then match their contribution. In my case, none of my grandchildren are old enough to work, so it is up to me and their parents to fund their account. The good thing is that the money we put in will sit there tax free until they take it out.

You can contribute up to $5000 a year but no more than the amount of your taxable income. So it is quite possible that your child (if he/she is of age to work) could fund this account with your help. Most children aren’t disciplined enough to do it themselves, so as the custodian of the IRA, you are essentially teaching them savings habits that will hopefully last a lifetime.

The Kiddie Roth gives young savers those extra critical years of compound growth. An early starter who saves the maximum Roth IRA contribution per year from the age of 15, could end up with double the retirement account balance of a worker who starts saving the maximum at 25. Basically, your child could end up with $1,000,000 at age 70 vs $500, 000 just by getting this early head start. Hey tell your children let me hold something lol.

Finally, the additional savings is important for young people. They will have fewer sources of guaranteed lifetime income in their retirement years. So when we save for our own retirement, let’s think about the next generation and set them up for financial success.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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5 Ways To Save For Unexpected Events

A rainy day fund consists of a small amount of money in a savings account separate from your checking that you do not have easy access to. Saving for this fund starts with small, regularly scheduled contributions that build up over time.

It’s the money that you hope you’ll never need: the “rainy-day” fund. That’s because if you have to reach for it, something expensive happened unexpectedly.

While you can’t stave off every unexpected expense, you can take some of the financial sting out of the unknown by salting away a little extra money. A rainy-day fund is “for unexpected and unanticipated” expenses. It’s not for personal wants or desires for which you didn’t save. Like a new car, wardrobe, vacations or dinners out.

A rainy-day fund is also different from an emergency fund.  While your rainy-day fund may pay for things like unplanned repairs, medical deductibles, or unexpected medical or dental bills, the emergency fund is what keeps you afloat for a few months if you lose your job or can’t work. Your rainy-day fund will typically be $1,000 to $5,000, while an emergency fund is more likely $10,000 to $15,000.

If you’re living close to the bone, paycheck to paycheck, you will likely build your rainy-day fund before you build your emergency fund. A rainy-day fund is a more “digestible goal. If you can build a rainy-day fund, it will motivate you to go the next step and build an emergency fund.

Select your savings vehicle

No-fee savings account: Shop your local credit union, along with a few local banks. What you want: An account with no fees whatsoever. Since you’re saving small amounts — and trying to recapture “lost” money — fees are the last thing you need.

Be honest with yourself

Want to find the “extra” money in your life? All you need to do is have an honest conversation with yourself. Is there something you could do differently, or do without? The answer almost always comes back yes.

Lay off the credit cards. Your goal is to save out of your income, but not to go into debt to do it. Do a semiannual review of bills and see where you can cut back. Then be very deliberate with that amount of found money. Bump up your savings by that amount so that you’re actually saving it.

Bank any extra income

Getting a raise? It’ll have a lot more muscle if you concentrate it into your rainy-day fund. It’s a common technique for retirement savings, but you can also use it to beef up your rainy-day fund. Any time you get a raise at work, you put that extra into your savings account.

Finished paying off a loan for a car, furniture or some other item? Keep paying that same amount — this time into your rainy-day fund. You’re already used to living without that cash.

Ditto for that tax refund. If you’re already getting a refund check, deposit it into your rainy-day fund. If you typically get a refund, adjust your W-4 form, and immediately arrange direct deposit to bank any extra money you’ll be receiving.

The best part: You’re building a rainy-day fund, and you haven’t changed your take-home pay at all.

Keep separate accounts

You need the rainy-day stash to be liquid, but you don’t want to make it easy to raid, either. If this is truly going to be your rainy-day fund, keep it at a separate institution than your checking account. This is the strategy my husband and I use. The temptation to spend more than I have in my account is minimized

If you create some separation between your spending account and your savings account, it’s less likely that you’ll dip into it for something other than an unexpected expense.

If you’ve built up a rainy-day fund, and are ready to establish a financial capability fund, keep those in separate accounts, at least in the beginning. I know it sounds cumbersome to have two accounts, but this is a mind game that you’re playing with yourself. Once you have about $10,000 in your financial capability fund, you can meld the two.

Want to maximize your success? Put those savings on autopilot by setting up direct deposit via an automatic transfer from your checking account or straight from your paycheck. You can read about creating an automated saving plan here.

Stash your spare change

You know that spare change that gathers in your wallet or purse? Empty it out and save it. You’ll be amazed how it adds up. Another way to amp it up: Gather up every dollar or every $5 bill (pick 1) that you have left at the end of the day. That goes into your rainy-day fund.

Do you have a rainy-day fund? I do and I’ve had to use funds out of it too. It really comes in handy! Let me show you how you can effortlessly start your rainy-day fund. Book a consultation with me today.

Book with tracie

 

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Saving Automatically Is Saving Made Easy

Setting up an automatic savings plan is kind of like that oven, you know set it and forget it. See how simple it is to set up an automatic saving plan .

It can be hard to put aside money for savings, but there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it by making your savings automatic in 2018. Already saving automatically? Find ways to automate other aspects of your financial life this year!

How to Create an Automatic Savings Plan

Redirect Part of Your Paycheck From Checking to Savings, and Then Leave It Alone

Do you have a savings account, yet find it difficult to find money to deposit into it? Do you have the best of intentions every month, but find you don’t have enough left over after you pay your bills to pay yourself in the form of savings?

This isn’t an uncommon problem because I have been there and I know.  Most people do find it hard to save. Generally, when you receive income it is either deposited directly into your checking account, or you make the deposit yourself, either at the bank, through an ATM, or via your phone.Then your money heads straight to your checking account, so it’s available to pay the seemingly endless stream of bills.It’s a vicious cycle, and one that’s hard to break. Fortunately, there is a way to break it: an automatic savings plan.

Why Saving Money Is Hard

You may not realize this (and may not feel that this is the case for you), but most people save money as an afterthought.

When they receive income (whether it’s a paycheck, freelance work, investments or other sources), their money is allocated to bills, groceries, rent or a mortgage. After paying for these expensive items, there may or may not be much left over to use for savings (or for fun). And in this scenario, the only time someone adds money to a savings account is when there’s money left over from paying the bills at the end of the month.

Unfortunately, with this backward thinking, there is almost never any money left over to save.So how do you break out of this pattern?

The Answer: Automatic Savings

When you make deposits into a savings account automatically and regularly, you don’t have to think about it. The money is deposited before you have time to worry about expenses or how much money will be left over. Once you get used to it, you might not even miss the money.

First, you need a savings account. Open one at the bank where you have your checking account if you don’t already have one set up, and make certain your checking and savings accounts are linked.

If you currently have direct deposit through your employer, you will find the easiest (and most effective) way to establish your automatic savings program is to have part of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account (the rest, as usual, will flow to your checking account to cover your bills). It doesn’t matter if it is $10 or $500 — simply setting this up automatically will ensure you save money every single time you are paid.

If you don’t have direct deposit, there is still an easy option available: set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account every time you’re paid. For example, if you’re paid every other Friday, you could establish an automatic transfer of a set amount of money from checking to savings to coincide with this deposit. Just make sure you’re aware of when the money will be deducted each month, or you may find yourself overdrawn.

Don’t Touch the Money (Unless You Need It)

This last point could be the hardest: you’ll need to learn to leave your savings in your savings account unless you need it for an unexpected expense. The idea is for you to get used to doing without that cash to cover regular, monthly expenses. If you tap into it every time you run a little short, there won’t be anything left when you really need it. Set up your automatic savings plan and then leave the money alone to grow.

It’s that simple, kind of like that set it and forget it oven. Start you automated savings plan today!

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Save With A Plan

As we kick off America Saves Week, let's get our savings plan in motion. People with a plan are more likely to hit their savings goals.

I am so excited about this week! It is America Saves Week. Savers with a plan can be over twice as likely to save successfully for things like retirement and their education. Start your savings habit during America Saves week by creating a simple savings plan. In my FaceBook group, Cocktail$ & Coins$, we talk a lot about having a plan for your money and setting personal finance goals. Here are 7 steps to help you create a savings plan you can live with.

1. Have a goal.

The people who are the most successful at something have a strong ‘why’ behind what they are doing. So, why do you want to save money? Is it because you want to live comfortably in retirement? Or maybe you want to travel and see the world. Perhaps you want to prepare in case something unexpected happens in your life. Maybe you want to save for your children’s college education. Regardless of the end goal, what is your why? Write this down, then put it in a visible place to remind yourself daily!

2. Know where you stand.

Do you keep a personal profit and loss (p&l) statement? It might be scary at first, but looking at where you are is key to where you’re going. Take a look at all of your bank statements, credit card statements, debts and savings you have — and then take a step back to see the big picture.  Pay special attention to anything that stands out to you and take note of what things you might be spending money on that don’t align with your values. Is there anything that needs changing? Where do you want your money to go?

If there is anything that you don’t want to spend money on, cut it! And if you want to stick to that decision, figure out how much you were previously spending on that unnecessary expense, and then set up your paycheck’s direct deposit feature to send that amount directly to a savings account (just make sure you are still leaving enough money to cover necessary monthly bills etc.). And that way, the money goes into savings before you have a chance to spend it.

In addition, if you don’t yet have a budget, now would be a good time to create one. The best way to do this is to create categories based on previous months’ expenses, then tweak a bit if you had any expenses in your statements that didn’t align with your values.

3. Create a plan.

Based on your overall goals, knowing where you are and how much you can devote to saving, create a plan around it.

Many financial experts say ‘pay yourself first,’ meaning every time you get paid, save a percentage of your income before you do anything else. It is recommended to save at least a dime of every dollar you make, but if you can’t do a dime, start with a penny and work up from there. If you feel that you’re behind on saving, you may decide to save $.15 or $.20 out of every dollar you make. Whatever the amount, start with something — and you’ll likely figure out pretty quickly that you won’t even miss that money anyway.

7 steps to create a spending plan that will work for you

Work backward

Sometimes a good way to devise a plan is to work backward from your end goal.

Let’s say you want to build up a $1,000 financial capability fund — money you can tap into in case an unexpected expense comes up (like a car repair or medical bill).

If you make $2,500 a month in take-home pay (about $50,000 annual salary) and save 10% each month, you’d be able to put away $250 each month. So in order to reach that $1,000 capability fund goal, it would take you about four months.

But — and this is a key step — you want to make sure your goals are realistic — otherwise it will be easy for you to get discouraged and give up. This is why taking a look at your past spending habits is a good first step. From there, you can create a plan but also be realistic about what will really work for your budget. Anything you can give up in terms of unnecessary expenses is found money!

Use automated savings

Automated savings — or lack thereof — could end up being what makes or breaks your plan.

Think about all the taxes you pay to the government in the form of automated payments from your paycheck. You know why you’re never late paying them? They do you the service of automatically taking the payments out for you before you ever see the money. Aren’t they sweet? And while no one likes the idea of the government’s hands in their pockets, the concept makes for a good analogy.

You can do the same thing for savings — except these payments will be to yourself. If you have direct deposit with your employer, you can often request that your company take a percentage or a dollar amount and put it into a separate account — like a savings account. You can even set up different accounts for different purposes, such as capability fund savings, vacation, retirement and so on.

Budgeting your paycheck and putting money aside for specific purposes is a great way to stick to a monthly plan — and ultimately, reach your goals. You can do this by separating cash into different envelopes — or by having specific amounts of your paycheck sent directly to separate accounts.

You could also use an app like Digit that will automatically save for you every time you make a purchase.

4. Monitor your spending.

Online banking and all types of apps make it super easy to monitor your spending.

If you want to use an app, Mint.com and Personall Capital are great tools that can help you monitor and track your spending.

It’s also a good idea to spend a little time each week managing your money – planning for anything new that may be coming up or new ways you can reduce expenses. The groundbreaking book The Millionaire Next Door revealed the strong correlation between time spent planning and considering personal finance and the accumulation of wealth.

5. Refine your spending habits.

Credit cards can run wild if not kept in check. One recent study found that people spend 12% to 18% more at fast-food restaurants when they use plastic instead of cash. So whether you’re paying with cash or plastic, figure out what items you’re spending money on that don’t fit your values, then make adjustments and dump the rest into a savings account! You might also want to use the old-fashioned envelope method to reinvent your spending habits.

It can be difficult to change our choices once they become ingrained as habits, but realizing that you might have a habit that needs changing is half the battle. You can change your habits if your ‘why’ is strong enough — but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get your spending habits the way you want them the first time around.

6. Bounce back quickly & learn from mistakes.

If you mess up, don’t worry too much about it! Just resolve to get back on the horse as quickly as possible. All isn’t lost if you happen to make one bad move — just fix it as quickly as you can, and make it a priority to get back on track.

Learning second hand from other people’s financial mistakes is definitely a preferred option when it comes to anything in life. But if you happen to make some financial mistakes yourself, just take it in stride and commit to doing better — now that you know better — for the future.

7. Leave room for fun & rewards.

Fun doesn’t have to be expensive, but having just a little bit of it built into your budget can definitely help you enjoy the journey!

For example, if you hit a savings goal, reward yourself with something fun that you want to do that fits within your budget. If you have weekly or monthly goals that lead up to a larger savings goal, reward yourself with something budget-friendly when you hit that weekly or monthly goal. This could be anything from going to the movies to budget-friendly dinner out to buying yourself something small to reward and remind yourself of the milestone you’ve hit.

As long you don’t go crazy, you can have your cake and eat it too by having fun built into your savings plan.

So there you have it, 7 steps to help you create a savings plan that’s right for you. I’d love to hear from you, tell me how you set up your savings plan.

No one plans to fail, they just fail to plan. Let me help you start your savings plan. Book a consultation with me.

Book with tracie

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10 Tips To Help You Boost Your Retirement Savings

Retirement may be far off for some while closer for others like me. No matter when it is for you, you should begin saving for it as soon as possible. These to tips will help get you started

 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until the day I retire. Whether you plan to retire early or work a few more years like me, it’s never too late to boost your retirement savings. Whether you just started working or you’re nearly done, you can still potentially grow your nest egg.

When planning for retirement, the truth is that the earlier you start saving and investing, the better off you will be, thanks to the power of compound interest. Even if you began saving late or have yet to begin, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There are steps you can take to increase your retirement savings. It’s never too late to get started.

Consider the following tips, which can help you boost your savings, no matter what your current stage of life and pursue the retirement you envision.

1. Focus on starting today

Especially if you’re just beginning to put money away for retirement, start saving and investing as much as you can now, and let compound interest have an opportunity to work in your favor. Compounding is the ability of your assets to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate their own earnings. The more you can invest when you’re young, the better off you’ll be.

2. Contribute to your 401(k)

If your employer offers a traditional 401(k) plan, it allows you to contribute pre-tax money. This can be a significant advantage. Say you’re in the 15% tax bracket and plan to contribute $100 per pay period. Since that money comes out of your paycheck before taxes are taken, your take-home pay will drop by only $85. This means you can invest more of your income without feeling it as much in your monthly budget.

If your employer offers a Roth 401(k), yes a Roth 401(k) not Roth Ira, which uses income after taxes rather than pre-tax fund, you should consider what your income tax bracket will be in retirement to help you decide whether this is the right choice for you.

3. Meet your employers match

If your employer offers to match your 401(k) plan, make sure you contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match. For example, an employer may offer to match 50% of employee contributions up to 5% of your salary. That means if you earn $50,000 a year and contribute $2,500 to your retirement plan, your employer would kick in another $1,250. It’s essentially free money. You better get that money, don’t leave it on the table.

4. Open an IRA

Consider establishing an individual retirement account (IRA) to help build your nest egg. You have two options, the Traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. A Traditional IRA may be right for you depending on your income and whether you and/or your spouse have a workplace retirement plan. Contributions to a Traditional IRA may be tax-deductible and the investment earnings have the opportunity to grow tax-deferred until you make withdrawals during retirement.

If you meet the income eligibility requirements, Roth IRA may be a good choice for you. They are funded with after-tax contributions, so once you have turned age 59½, qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are federal-tax-free (and may be state-tax-free) if you’ve held the account for at least five years.

5. Take advantage of catch-up contributions if you are 50 or older

One of the reasons it’s important to start saving early if you can is that yearly contributions to IRAs and 401(k) plans are limited. There is good news though.  Once you reach age 50, you’re eligible to go beyond the normal limits with catch-up contributions to IRAs and 401(k)s. So if over the years, you haven’t been able to save as much as you would have liked, catch-up contributions can help boost your retirement savings.

6. Automate your savings

You’ve probably heard the phrase “pay yourself first.” Make your retirement contributions automatic each month and you’ll have the opportunity to potentially grow your nest egg without having to think about it. Make automated regular contributions to your IRA. Here is a little more information on how to automate your savings

7. Rein in your spending

Examine your budget. You might negotiate a lower rate on your car insurance or save by bringing your lunch to work instead of buying it. Determine where your money is going by tracking your spending. Find places to reduce spending so you have more to save or invest.

8. Set a retirement goal

Knowing how much you’ll need not only makes the process of saving and investing easier but also can make it more rewarding. Set benchmarks along the way, and gain satisfaction as you pursue your retirement goal.

9. Stash extra funds

Extra money? Don’t just spend it. Every time you receive a raise, increase your contribution percentage. Dedicate at least half of the new money to your retirement plan. I know  it may be tempting to take that tax refund or salary bonus and splurge on a new designer purse or a vacation, don’t treat those extra funds as found money. Treat yourself to something small and use the rest to help make big leaps toward your retirement goal.

10. Consider delaying Social Security as you get closer to retirement

This is a big one! Did you know that for every year you can delay receiving Social Security before age 70, you can increase the amount you receive in the future? Age 62 is the earliest you can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits, but for each year you wait (up until age 70), your monthly benefits will increase.

The additional income adds up quickly. Pushing your retirement back even one year could significantly boost your Social Security income during retirement.

Recognizing the need to put money back for retirement is the first step. Understand how much you want to put away for retirement, and find creative way’s to increase your contributions. Making the effort now will help make your retirement something to look forward to and help you not to worry about retirement.

 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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Personal Finance Love

Loving personal finance is probably the last thing on your mind, especially if your finances are in a shamble. I'm here to tell you there was a time when I didn't love my financial situation. When I worked through my obstacles, I developed a love of saving, budgeting, and investing. In this article, I tell you just how you can develop a love of personal finance too.

We have made it to the big “Love” month. The most notable holiday this month is, of course, Valentine’s Day. This is also Black History Month, where we celebrate and observe the most notable African Americans and moments in history. Finally, the last week of this month is America Saves Week.

I know you are probably wondering why I am talking about Black History Month in a personal finance blog. Well, just flow with me, because all of this ties together. From Black History Month all the way to America Saves Week. As an African American, I am troubled by the financial state of my people. That is part of why I blog. There are not a lot of people who look like me, that don’t have the financial knowledge I do. I want to do my part to close the wealth gap in my community. This month, I will feature other African Americans who are doing their part to close this gap as well. We are part of what will one day be history, and it is important to me that I share these resources not only with my African American readers but to all of my readers.

Later on this month, I will write a post dedicated to the wealth gap and giving my ideas on how we can close that gap. See, I told you Black History Month has to do with personal finance.

In all communities, talking about personal finance is taboo. No one wants to have those conversations, but they are much needed. This month, I want us all to begin to love personal finance. I love everything about personal finance and I want my readers to begin to have a love for it too. Let’s create that dialogue.

With Valentine’s Day being this month, why not develop a love of saving, budgeting, and investing. See how I tied all that into this one month? A while back, my husband told me that I never include him in my “lil” blog (his words not mine). This month, he agreed to sit down with me and write a post about couples and money. We are still working on it and I don’t want to give any of it away but know that it will be great.

Finally, America Saves Week is February 26 – March 3. By now, you should know that I love to save in every area that I can. From groceries to utility bills, I always find ways to save.

America Saves, seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The research-based campaign uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to change behavior. America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

So, as you can see everything involved with this month has to do with personal finance. Let the love flow and begin loving your personal finance.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

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The Secret To Saving More

Did you know that there is a Secret To Saving more? Well, it's not really a secret, you just have to be motivated to save and find way's to do it.

Well most of the time I can keep a secret, however this is one of those times I just can’t hold water. Did y’all know it was a secret to saving more? Well, really it isn’t a secret. It’s actually being motivated to save and finding way’s to save.

According to a new, 15-part checklist released this week, the most important steps toward creating a solid nest egg include making a plan with specific goals, avoiding high-interest debt and saving at least 5 percent of your income. Before you bash me 5% is not that much. The campaign also recommends making savings deposits automatic through bank accounts and contributing regularly to retirement accounts. You can read more about automatic saving here.

In a survey of more than 1,000 people conducted in September, it was found that young people between ages 18 and 35 were particularly interested in saving. This fact is attributed partly to the lingering effects of the Great Recession as well as concerns over the stability of Social Security. That younger group also had the highest rating for effort made to save. Go head young people whoop whoop!

It can only be speculated that the late, Great Recession especially influenced young people, and that they’re skeptical about receiving Social Security benefits. Heck, I’m not even young and I’m skeptical about receiving Social Security benefits. It’s also noted that the median income of young adults has fallen, which further underscores their financial insecurity and need to save. Sorry young people.

The survey also found that higher-income individuals reported the highest levels of interest in savings, as well as the greatest amount of effort made to save. The group attributes that finding to the fact that it’s likely easier for higher-income individuals to find ways to tuck money away. Unsurprisingly, higher-income individuals also reported being able to save more effectively than lower-income individuals. The highest levels of interest, effort and effectiveness of saving were found among respondents earning over $100,000 a year.

It can be said that those with the greatest ability to save also make the greatest effort to save. Hold up, I don’t make $100 grand a year but I manage to find way’s to save. If you are looking for way’s to save you can find them here.  The findings illustrate the pessimism among low-income Americans and the pervasive belief that it is too difficult to save. That’s why I believe it’s just as important to help motivate people to save and to provide opportunities to do so, as it is to inform them how to save effectively. Don’t forget to grab my FREE report, 54 Way’s To Save Money

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I want to convince those in the lower-income brackets, including those earning under $50,000 or even $25,000 a year, to find ways to save more. That way, they can avoid credit card debt or high-interest rate payday loans and build up greater financial security. According to the report, moderate, and not just low-income families, did not believe they could save $1,000. One of my principal goals is to persuade people that they have the ability to save.

Believing that they can save is one of the first steps toward helping low-income families do so. Even starting with just accumulating loose change, which can add up to $100 a year or more, can be a good start. In my years of personal finance coaching, I have heard stories where that’s how people started to save. It wasn’t the amount of dollars that was important, it was seeing that they could save.

Even though this is not automatic it is still an opportunity to save. At the end of the day save you change in a jar and after a month deposit what you have into your savings account and watch it grow
Save Save Save

While several hundred dollars might not sound like significant savings, it can actually make a big difference for those in the low- and middle-income brackets,  In a 2008 study from the Consumer Federation of America found that having at least $500 in savings was correlated with a slew of other positive financial factors, including less concern over paying monthly bills, the ability to keep up with the mortgage or rent and general concern over personal finances. The survey data suggest that this figure [$500], or something close to it, may represent a threshold that distinguishes both attitudes and behaviors.

For people on the financial edge, saving $100, or $200, or $500 can make all the difference in the world. The most important financial step for low-income individuals is to increase their incomes.

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5 Opportunities for Automatic Savings

I thought this time I would give you 5 opportunities for automatic savings. If it's one thing for sure, all this automatic stuff has certainly helped me in getting my finances in order.

 

 

Since my last post was about 7 way’s to automate your saving’s if you didn’t catch that post you can click on the link and read it there.  I thought this time I would give you 5 opportunities for automatic savings. If it’s one thing for sure, all this automatic stuff has certainly helped me in getting my finances in order.

Sure, we understand that saving regularly is one of the simplest ways to reach our financial goals.  Let’s face it, we don’t all take advantage of easy ways to automate our savings. As part of America Saves Week, I’ve devised a list of five automatic savings opportunities that are often overlooked. These go a step beyond the normal mere automatic transfers from checking to savings. They’re easy, straight-forward ways to save money automatically that most of us don’t take advantage of yet, and they increase your chances of reaching your goals even faster.

1.  Direct Deposit Your Tax Refund Into Savings
According to the IRS, the average American’s tax refund now stands at over $3,100. Don’t let that windfall slip through your fingers. Deposit all or part of it into your savings account, instead, and watch your money grow. Don’t just take that windfall and ball till you fall. I used to be guilty of that, but thank God when you know better you do better.  Plus, the IRS allows direct deposits into one or more accounts, such as a checking and savings account, which means you can choose to spend a portion and save the rest. (I’d recommend saving all you can.) Conveniently, you can also direct deposit all or part of your refund into your Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or use it to purchase up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I Savings Bonds. You can split your refund using tax preparation software, or Form 8888, if you use paper filing.

2. Don’t Forget Bonuses or Commissions
Do you get quarterly or yearly bonuses? Are commissions a part of your earnings? If you answered yes to either of those questions, count yourself lucky. Don’t forget to direct deposit all or part of these funds into your savings. Consult with your employer about direct depositing the funds into your savings account, or set up automatic transfers from your checking to savings accounts when you expect the funds.

Another alternative? During those times you receive extra earnings, increase the contributions on your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k). It’ll help you max out your contributions faster and earn any applicable company match to boost your savings even further. Consult with your HR representative or your company’s online retirement plan portal to manage your contributions.

Have you gotten my FREE REPORT 54 Way’s To Save Money? If not, you can still get it while it’s free and the getting is good.

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3. Save Your Spare Change
Some banks and credit unions offer programs which automatically round up to the next dollar on any purchases you make, and transfer the spare change from your checking to savings account. These programs are free, and provide a fool-proof way to jumpstart your savings and always pay yourself first. You probably won’t miss the spare change in your checking account, but your savings will sure be glad for the extra boost. Even small amounts saved over time add up. Also save any spare change at the end of the day. Put it in a jar and hide the jar from your kids and grand children, jk. At the end of the month see how much you have in the jar and deposit that into your saving account. (ok I know that wasn’t automatic,but I just wanted to throw that in)

Even though this is not automatic it is still an opportunity to save. At the end of the day save you change in a jar and after a month deposit what you have into your savings account and watch it grow
Save Save Save

4. Credit Card Rewards Can Boost Savings, Too
Many popular credit cards rewards programs offer several rewards options, ranging from airline miles or hotel points to cash back. Sadly, many credit card rewards perks often go unused, making them less than rewarding. But if you choose to receive rewards in the form of cash back, instead, many cards will deposit the rewards sum directly into an account of your choice. If you’re limited to receiving the funds into checking, you can always transfer the funds to savings. Either way, you’re boosting your savings painlessly. Don’t forget to pay off the balance on your card at the end of every month to avoid costly interest fees, otherwise you’ll spend more on interest than you’ll receive in rewards.

5. Set Your Savings Rate Higher
So, you think you’re a savings pro now that you’ve got regular transfers or direct deposits into your savings account? Well, you can go a step further still by periodically increasing your savings rate, whether to your employer-sponsored retirement plan or your savings account. Many 401(k) plans allow users to opt-in to periodic increases in their savings rates, such as a 1 percent increase in their contributions per year. If you prefer to contribute to a savings account or other savings vehicle, consider increasing your contributions regularly, such as every time you get a raise.

Having the foresight to automate your savings can help you beat temptation and stay ahead financially. And the techniques described above are easy ways to take your savings to the next level. For more way’s 54 to be exact, don’t forget to download my FREE report 54 Way’s To save Money. As you can see, you can’t leave any stones unturned when it comes to saving. Tell me in the comments below, what opportunities you use to save automatically.

 

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