Everyone is starting the new year with a fresh clean slate. January 1st a time for change: Exercise, lose weight, SAVE MORE MONEY. Here are five small money moves that pay off big.
Increase your 401(k) contribution by 1%.
I am a retirement plan expert so I am truly passionate about participating in your company’s 401(k) plan. No plan? Consider opening an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). There is a misconception about saving for retirement. Because you can only afford $20 a paycheck, you figure it’s not enough and not participate at all. I am here to tell you that every penny counts. It’s this simple:
Contributions + company match (or other employer dollars) + earnings on your investments + time (25–35-45 years to retirement) = BIG PAY OFF.
Automate your savings
Set up an automatic transfer to move money from your checking to savings every pay period. Even small transfers add up over time. I enrolled in a program years ago that transfers $1 to my savings account every time I use my debit card. Who will miss $1, right? Years later, it has grown into a substantial balance.
Create a personal budget
I am one of four children and we all agree on this one fact: Mom was terrible at finances and didn’t teach us a thing. I have friends who are 40 and fabulous, but do not know the first thing on how to create a budget. It is never too late to learn how to manage your finances. Check out this free budget template from Mint.com. This will help you zoom in on your spending habits and where you can scale back to save money.
Cut back one expensive habit
Do you stop at Starbucks on the way to the office? Do you go out to lunch most days of the week or meet friends for drinks? Small changes have big payoffs. Passing up two fancy coffees per week at $5.00 each adds up to a staggering $520 per year. I’m not asking you to give up these things entirely. Believe me, I am a very big fan for meeting my friends for a glass of wine.
Other habits you may not even realize are expensive include fast food for the kiddos or carrying multiple gym memberships.
Look at your career & compensation
There may have been a time in your life – even now – where you are working the numbers and they just do not add up. You are living within your means, but feel like you possibly can’t save $1.
It’s time to look at your income, not your spending.
When was the last time you got a raise? Have you been at your current job for several years, but no real reward for your hard work? Maybe it’s time for a change. Studies show it is expensive to replace a seasoned employee. You may need to leverage your talent and experience by looking for a new job. You may be surprised how quick your current employer will match your new offer to have you stay put.
My takeaway for today is approach change slowly, but take action. Do something. Think of your biggest accomplishment and how you remained super focused. It takes hard work and you may stumble along the way. But you get up, dust yourself off, and get back on track. You’ve got this. Remember, small changes=BIG PAY OFF.