While sure, knowing the difference between an ira vs 401k is important to figure out when it means contributing money to your future, so you want to ensure it’s the best choice for your financial situation, but prior to getting to that point, it may be time to look at your whole financial picture. It certainly is not easy to handle the household finances, otherwise everyone would not be in debt and would be ahead, instead of living paycheck to paycheck. I understand money can be tight, but it’s how you handle your monthly expenses, spending, not to mention saving, that can have a lasting effect in your current financial affairs, not to mention the income that you will need to draw off of when you do end up retiring.
Focus on a Budget
It’s not at all surprising that two-thirds of the population isn’t using a budget, probably because it takes skill, patience, not to mention discipline to keep up with it. If you are not currently tracking expenses or are not even sure what your monthly bills and spending money come out to, then the first step would be to take last month’s debit or credit card statement and actually go line by line to see where every dollar is going. From there you can start to get an idea of how much you are spending in each area, between bills, food, gas, spending, and come up to where you’d like impose spending limits.
Earn Cashback from Credit Cards
Credit cards can be scary in the fact that you can charge as much as you like without getting stopped, well I guess until you hit your credit limit, but like a debit card and spending what you have in your account, credit cards are virtually endless. That is, until the statement comes that you need to pay in a few weeks. If you can keep spending until control and just make the necessary purchases, a rewards card is a great way to earn points or dollars back on those purchases that you were going to make anyways, just now you won’t be missing out on free money.
Keep Your Credit Score Climbing
If you have applied for a car loan or lease, credit card, or mortgage, you know that the best credit score range has the best rates on the market available to you, but the lower the interest rate, the lower the monthly payment. If you look at larger balances such as a mortgage payment, having a lower interest rate could save you thousands per month. Why continue to ignore your credit when you can strive to improve so you can take advantage of better rates and save money going forward.
Don’t be Afraid to Negotiate
Whether it’s a credit card company, cable, or cell phone company, much like you are trying to save the most money, they’re looking to make the most, so if your bills increase, they will not automatically lower unless you fight for it. Take cable for instance, even though it can be annoying to go on the phone with customer service, if you can make one call every couple years, threaten to cancel and escalate up the chain until you finally get a deal locked in, it’s worth it if you’re saving money every month going forward. Why pay extra when you don’t have to.
Stay Away from Bad Habits
Your hard-earned money is valuable and can be hard to come by, especially after you pay bills and contribute to savings, so much that you should watch where your money is going and it may be time to make some sacrifices when it comes to freeing up extra money and make some tough choices. Going out to eat is convenient, but the more you do it, you can watch hundreds of dollars leave your account a month, compared to going grocery shopping and preparing your mails at home, whether it’s taking breakfast on the go, on the way to work, packing your lunch, or actually sitting down with the family for a home-cooked meal.
Continue to Build Your Nest Egg
Although retirement may still be decades away, that doesn’t mean that you should put off saving until down the road. The earlier you can save the better, so it’s better to get in the habit of contributing as much as you can while you’re young and increasing a percent a year or so, so it will continue to grow over time and you’ll feel less of the burden. After all, you want to enjoy life to its fullest when you finally walk away from work.