Who among us wouldn't want to stash away an extra thousand dollars toward retirement? Unfortunately, upping your monthly or yearly savings often means depriving yourself of those little perks that make life a bit more worthwhile. So instead of urging you to forgo that morning latte or night at the movies, I've tried to come up with a few less painful ways to collect that bonus thousand bucks.
Pay yourself first
Sometimes, you have to trick yourself into saving more. Many investors devote money to savings only after they've plumbed their paychecks for all the usual monthly expenses. We Fools can't entirely condemn scrounging for financial scraps like this -- every little bit helps -- but it's not the most effective way to save for retirement.
Instead, try taking your investment money out first. If you want to invest $500 or $1,000 per month, do so as soon as you get your paycheck. Then make all your other payments. If, near the end of the pay period, you're running low on money, you can make some adjustments and spend a little less on eating out, or put off that new dishwasher purchase. The point is that you make your retirement nest egg a priority -- because it should be. If you don't look out for your financial future, no one else will. Social Security won't provide all that you need or want.
By paying yourself first, you can make sure that you're socking away as much as you need to. If this system helps you save an extra $85 per month, you'll net yourself more than $1,000 per year, mainly just by reordering how you spend your money. Automated investment plans or bank transfers can make this a whole lot easier. Consult your online bank or brokerage to see about setting up such a plan.
Speaking of automatic transfers, why not ask your employer to send money straight from your paycheck to a 401(k). That way you'll never be tempted to spend the money first; it'll never be in your hands to begin with. Also, your taxable income will shrink by the amount of your contribution, thus diminishing your tax bill.
Better yet, if your employer matches contributions to retirement plans to any degree, you can grab free money. Aim to at least contribute enough to take full advantage of that. A common employer match is 50% of the first 6% of your salary. So if you earn $50,000, and you contribute $3,000, your employer will kick in $1,500. Like we said: free money, absolutely guaranteed.
Sayonara to interest
Without even realizing it, you might spend $1,000 a year just on interest on your credit card debt. The average borrower owes about $5,000 today. If the debt that you've been carrying on your cards for a long time is in that neighborhood, and you're being charged 20% interest, as plenty of people are, you're paying $1,000 annually.
If you can pay off that debt promptly, you'll be saving $1,000 annually! Paying those debts is undeniably difficult, but that doesn't make it impossible. And remember -- if you're carrying credit card debt, you probably have no business investing in stocks or mutual funds until it's paid off, anyway. Even if you earn a better-than-average 15% annual return in the market, you'll still come out a loser if you're paying 20% interest on your debt.
There are many ways that you can come up with an extra $1,000, especially if you think creatively. Share your ideas with others -- leave a comment below!
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