How I Learned to Spend Money Wisely and Save for Retirement

As the years go by, your financial situation may change. You may find yourself in better shape than when you were younger or poorer than when you started out. Your retirement years may be closer than you realize, and saving for them could be just as important as paying off your mortgage or saving money on vacation this year. Here are some personal finance tips that I’ve learned throughout my life to help you manage wealth wisely and save for the future.

Saved Half of My Income

While my peers were spending their money on travel, designer clothes, and nights out at bars and clubs, I was squirreling away half of my income into a high-yield savings account. My friends thought it was crazy—that they’d never be able to save that much—but four years later, they have all come around. Now they know why saving is so important! Even if you can only manage to save 10% of your income each month, every little bit adds up over time.

Brought Lunch Every Day

According to a recent survey by American Express, 30% of respondents between age 25-34 said they bring lunch from home almost every day. In fact, when asked what they spend more on compared with five years ago, 33% of Millennials said food. The takeaway: you might be overspending when it comes to your diet. If you’re looking for ways to save money in your 20s, start bringing your lunch from home or packing leftovers instead of ordering pricey lunches out every day.

Cooked at Home

It’s easy to head out for lunch when you’re busy, but it’s a much healthier move—and cheaper, too—to make yourself something at home. Not only do you get to skip most of the high-calorie dressing on restaurant salads, but you also avoid paying out a couple dollars every time you need a tiny packet of ketchup. A lot of restaurants will also give you free tap water, so stick with that instead of buying bottled water.

Cut Down Expenses on Extras

Being smart about your spending is one of the best ways to start saving money. When you’re on a budget, spend your money on essentials—namely food, water, clothing, shelter—and cut out everything else. Excessive spending often starts with excessive desires. We want something (new clothes or shoes) so we buy it, even if we don’t need it.

Paid Off Debt Quickly

It’s a big no-no to acquire more debt when you want to save money. But what if you’re currently using credit cards or loans? Your best bet is paying off your debts as quickly as possible, so cut your expenses and get on a payment plan that works for you. Once you have one credit card with a $0 balance, shift your focus on paying off another. Use resources like Mint or NerdWallet to help keep track of each debt payoff milestone.

Invested in the Stock Market

Investing in stocks can help you grow your money over time. Over a five-year period, an S&P 500 index fund earned investors, on average, 10.76% each year. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should start by investing all of your money in stocks—most experts agree that a good mix is 70% or so stocks and 30% bonds—but it does show what’s possible with even just a few thousand dollars invested properly.

Don’t Worry About Keeping Up With The Joneses

While it’s fun to compare yourself with others, when it comes down to it, material items don’t bring you happiness. It is so easy to get caught up in looking at what your neighbor has that you lose sight of what makes you happy. As Thomas Monson says Comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on your own financial goals rather than comparing yourself with others.

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