For Mark Roberts’ Use: We tend to think of saving money as an arduous task. Not to mention, it’s usually more fun to spend than it is to save! However, it isn’t so much fun when you reach retirement and realize you don’t have enough money to live. The following tricks can help you save a extra money the easy way, and ward off disappointment and hardship later:
Put that tax refund in the bank! At tax time, a lot of us get big refunds, and it’s tempting to blow that money on a new flat-screen TV. Unless you have pressing medical needs or other emergency expenses, it’s best to put that money directly into your savings. After all, you haven’t missed it until now, so it’s like a free boost to your account.
Get fit. At first, you might wonder how on Earth this could save you money. But it’s really quite simple: small daily choices lead to better health, which translates into less time off of work and less money spent on medical bills over the years. Go for a walk or bike ride each day, and substitute one healthy food for a less healthy one (fruits and vegetables are best). Maintaining a lower weight might also save you money on life or health insurance.
Pay bills on time. You might be surprised how quickly those late fees add up. Spend just a few minutes getting organized with a calendar, filing system, or a dependable smart phone application. Taking this small step can add hundreds of dollars back into your yearly budget.
Review your retirement contributions. You can contribute a certain amount each year, tax-free, to your retirement account. Why pay taxes on that money now when you can funnel it directly toward your future? Check with your financial advisor to make sure you’re reaping this important benefit. Otherwise, you’re just giving the IRS more of your hard-earned money.
Bundle utility services. Some utility companies are not doing a great job of advertising this information, but many of them offer services you’re purchasing elsewhere. If you aren’t purchasing your home phone, cell phone, internet, and cable plans all from the same company, chances are you could roll them into a package deal and save money each month.
Take advantage of cash-back deals. If your credit card offers a cash back program, use it! Rather than paying cash for everyday expenses like groceries and gas, always use your credit card. Just be sure to pay off the amount each month so that you aren’t charged interest on daily essentials, and don’t charge things you wouldn’t have purchased with cash. This takes some discipline, but it can give you a better look at your regular budget, plus reward you with extra cash money that you can put directly into savings.