Trying to stay ahead of your bills and keep your family with the basic needs is not always easy to do. Trying to build a nest egg for your retirement, on top of the regular expenses, may seem impossible. However, if you get serious about it, make a few changes in your spending habits, and be diligent, you will find that it is not as hard as you think. Once you have a small amount saved up, it gives you encouragement and makes continuing with your new habits much easier.
Make a Plan and Stick to It
Experts agree that putting aside even a small amount every paycheck is easier than trying to come up with a larger sum once a year or even once a month. Of course, the more you can spare the better, but to get things started, put $5 away each week. When you first get paid, take that money and put it in a saving account. Even if you have to give up the bag of chips you get with lunch every day to do it, make sure you put the money away.
Cut Back on A Few Extras
Now that you are in the habit of saving, look for ways to cut back on what you are spending to save even more. Almost everyone has something they can do without, or buy a less expensive brand to save some money. Here are a few examples:
- Buy regular gas instead of midgrade or premium
- Go to a thrift store before the department store for small appliances, clothing or household goods
- Learn to perform basic car maintenance yourself
- Lower your thermostat two degrees in the winter and raise it two degrees in the summer
- Buy store brand foods
- Go to a beauty school for haircuts
- Do your own nails
- Avoid ATM fees; get cash back when making a purchase instead
- Have a game night instead of going out
- Rent a movie or only go to the theater when the ticket price is lower than normal.
Keep track of the money you are saving on your spending and put that into your savings account.
Pay off Credit Card Debt
When it comes time to retire, the fewer monthly bills you have, the less money you will need for living expenses. Credit card fees and interest can keep you paying on them forever. Make a plan to pay off one card at a time, and then use the money you would have paid monthly for that card to pay off the next one. Start with the card that has the highest interest rate and work your way down.
Pay Your Mortgage off Early
Once you have your credit cards all paid, start paying down your mortgage. If you use the payment from even one credit card and add that to your monthly mortgage payment, you can reduce the number of years you will have to pay considerably. Any time you pay anything extra, it comes right off the principle; this will lower the amount of interest you have to pay before the loan is paid off.
There really are a number of ways you can save a few dollars here and there. When you put these savings into a bank account, and leave it there, you will be surprised at how much money you have in just a few years. Once you have a tidy sum, talk with an investment counselor about an IRA or other investment that is not a risk and will give you a decent amount of interest on you savings.