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by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Dec. 13, 2019
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Want to end 2020 with more money than you started it with? Here's how.
The start of a new year is a good time to map out your financial goals and devise a plan to achieve them. And if one of your key objectives is to close out 2020 with more money than you had when you started it, here are a few key moves you should consider.
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Although you're not guaranteed to make money by investing, if you're smart about building a portfolio, you can grow your wealth without having to put in extra hours on the job or slave away at a side hustle. To get started, open a brokerage account, and then choose stocks with a solid performance history to increase your chances of making money. You can consult this guide on buying stocks if you're brand new to the process.
Of course, stocks aren't the only way to invest. You can buy bonds or even real estate if you're up for it. The point, however, is to take money you aren't using, and don't expect to use within the next few years, and put it to work.
The less money you waste on things like credit card interest and fees, the more you stand to save. A good way to close out 2020 on a wealthier note is to avoid credit card debt, and to make all of your bill payments on time to steer clear of late fees.
But it's not just interest and fees you want to avoid; you should also avoid wasting money in the form of thrown-out food, impulse buys, and services you pay for but don't actually use (like the gym that costs you $50 a month that you visit six times a year at best). If you're not sure where you're wasting money, comb through your budget and see what your expenses look like. Chances are that you'll find ways to reasonably cut back.
Want an extremely easy way to boost your wealth in the coming year? Force yourself to save. If you automate the process, you won't be tempted to stray from your savings efforts, and you have several options in this regard. First, you can arrange for a portion of each paycheck you collect to go directly from your checking account to your savings account. This is something you can quickly set up with your bank. Next, you can sign up for your employer's 401(k) plan and have funds deducted from each paycheck automatically for retirement. Finally, you can find an IRA with an auto-transfer feature, and save for your golden years that way.
The less tax you have to pay on your income, the more of your money you get to keep. To this end, it pays to capitalize on tax-advantaged savings tools like traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, and also health savings accounts.
IRAs and 401(k)s come in both the traditional and Roth variety, and while there are benefits to funding a Roth, you'll do so with after-tax dollars, which means there's no immediate tax break to be reaped. With a traditional IRA or 401(k), your contributions are made with pre-tax dollars. Put $5,000 into either account in 2020, and that's $5,000 the IRS can't tax you on.
The same holds true for a health savings account -- the money you contribute goes in on a pre-tax basis. Health savings accounts are a great way to set aside funds for medical expenses, and you can qualify for one if you have a high-deductible health insurance plan.
A little smart planning on your part could help you end 2020 on a wealthier note. And that'll really give you something to be happy about.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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