New Year, Fresh Start! Invest in Yourself & Your Future
Ringing in the New Year is often accompanied by new year resolutions, goal resets, and how to be your best self compared to the previous years.
The biggest common denominators about new year’s goals are that they often pertain to what can I do better? What can I do for the future starting this year? As you look ahead to what is next, what are you looking for? Do you want to move? Maybe you want to attend a university, or you need a new car. Maybe you’re looking to expand your family. Maybe you need to reconsider your retirement plan. Many people will find that financial goals tie into most of our core goals, in general.
Regardless of your specific financial goals, it is important to always consider what is next? There are many things we can plan for in life but there are equally many events we cannot predict. Learning to save and invest are two of the biggest ways to amplify your money, prepare for future goals, and be more resilient in the event of an emergency.
There is no “right age” or time to start your financial journey in investing in yourself and your future! The sooner, the better. Here are some ways you can increase your savings right now:
Set a monthly savings goal!
This can be as small as $5. Any amount of savings is better than none. Setting up a savings account is easy. Just contact your trusted bank or credit union and discuss savings options that are important to you. Many savings accounts offer yearly interest, and most have Auto-Savings features that pull a specified amount automatically from your checking account, as frequently as you want.
Create a savings plan
Creating a savings plan that you can refer to each week/month and sticking to it, is a key component to financial awareness. Create realistic financial goals, constraints and distinguish between wants & needs. It is unrealistic to say you won’t spend any money on things that are just for fun. You should definitely still enjoy your wants. If you prioritize your needs in your savings plan, you will have space to enjoy whatever you want. There are apps and spending reports that can help you review your spending habits. Thinking about saving and actually sticking to a plan can be the difference between having money for all your “needs” and extra cash for all your “wants”.
Maintain an emergency fund
Rule of Thumb: Save 3 months’ worth of living expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, gas, food, etc.) in an emergency fund. However, if you are the sole provider for dependents, bills, payments, etc. you should amass 6 months, worth of living expenses. This can be a feature off of your savings account, where you designate a portion to an emergency fund. We can’t predict unexpected events but we can be in a stable position to handle them when there is an emergency fund. If there’s money left at the end of a pay period, move some into your emergency fund.
Look into investment accounts
Investing is something that people may overlook for a while until they have an adequate amount of assets to put into investment accounts. Investing in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, etc. can be a very daunting concept if you don’t understand anything about the market. Investing provides current and future financial stability. In other words, investing now rather than later can be very beneficial for your future self. Ask your employer or HR about retirement benefits that may offer investment accounts or match plans. Some investment accounts can even be opened for your children/grandchildren to be used for future education, living, or home expenses. Reach out to a certified financial advisor that offers investment accounts for more information. They will assess your financial and non-financial objectives to recommend the best options.
Research cashback and online coupon sites
The pandemic is said to have increased e-commerce and technology usage by nearly 10% with no sight of slowing down any time soon. Everyone saw an increase in their online shopping and spending. With this comes a very overlooked concept of cashback and online coupon sites. No more searching coupon magazines for the best deals, you can download apps or web-browser extensions that do the hard searching for you, on everyday items like clothes, food, appliances, etc. Some savings sites like Honey or Retailmenot, offer cashback, gift cards, or discounts when you collect enough “rewards points”.
Look at your checking account and identify expenses you can trim. That way you’ll have cash left over to build your emergency fund, save for a trip, or something you need to buy. Some ways to save include carpooling, cooking more meals at home, saving leftovers, and avoiding small daily purchases such as coffee. Also, watch out for random subscriptions you forgot about or don’t use! These small expense cuts can add to your savings in big ways over time!
Get supplemental income
If you have time to spare and the willpower, get a second job, work for online delivery apps or sell unused items from your home to accumulate some extra cash. This extra walking-around money (WAM), can be put towards your monthly savings plan to help increase the limit on the money you want to spend on whatever you want or need. Check out this handout for more ideas of “side hustles”.
Save your tax refund
You get a shot at this once a year at tax time — and only if you expect a refund. Saving it can be an easy way to boost your emergency fund. When you file your taxes, consider having your refund deposited directly into your emergency or savings account. Or consider reinvesting the money into an investment account.
Assess and adjust contributions
When it comes to a savings plan, check-in every month to make sure you are on track with your goals. Additionally, check-in every 3 months to see how much you’re saving, and adjust if you need to add more. This is especially important if you go through an expensive major life event such as marriage or moving, or have an emergency that causes you to dip into your existing fund.