Successful goal-setters will tell you that one secret to achieving your objective is making it as specific as possible. So this year, instead of a vague target like “save more,” why not establish some financial resolutions with a laser focus? Here are three super-specific ideas that could put some serious extra money in your bank account by year’s end. How’s that for an incentive?
1. Pay off (or pay down significantly) those high-interest credit cards. Did you know that the average American household has more than $15,000 in credit card debt? Did you know that the average interest rate on credit card balances is more than 13%? With the 5-year US Treasury bill yielding less than 3%, it’s not hard to see that the credit card companies are making a killing, and if you’re paying that kind of interest, it’s also killing your bottom line. The Fed is likely to allow at least one more interest rate increase in 2019, which means that the credit card companies will be charging even more in coming months. Paying $50 to $100 per month over your required minimum will help you knock out that debt. Better yet, have a garage sale to get rid of stuff you don’t need or use, and apply the lump sum to knock out that debt.
2. Get a side gig. Don’t want the responsibility or long hours of a part-time job in addition to your regular employment? No problem; you can become an Uber or Lyft driver in your off hours and make enough extra money to build up your savings or even pay for that vacation you’ve been wanting. Do you love animals? Go to Rover.com and register as a pet sitter. You can work on your own schedule and still maintain your daily routine while making extra money. Are you handy with tools? Thumbtack.com can help you get paid to assemble someone else’s Ikea furniture, or do other light handyman chores.
3. Drink at home. Now, we all know it’s not a good idea to drink alone. But seriously, that $9 glass of wine that you enjoy at the bar with friends after work is probably marked up something like 400% over what you pay for a glass poured from a bottle in your own home. Instead of meeting at the bar, why not invite your friends to swing by the house after work for a couple of beers? As few as three fewer trips to the bar each week could save you $1,000 per year or more. If you’re 35 years old, adding that much extra to your 401K could give you an extra $74,000 or more at retirement.
It is worth pointing out that none of these savings resolutions are life-changing events in isolation. But the cumulative effect, over your working lifetime, can be dramatic. For example, let’s say you paid off a credit card at a savings to your monthly budget of $200 and started putting that aside for retirement. Also, what if you put just $50 per month of the earnings from your side gig into an IRA? That’s a total of $3,000 per year into savings. If you’re 35 and you do that until retirement age (about 30 years) at an average rate of just 5%, you’ll have an extra $200,000+ in your retirement savings account.
In other words, building wealth doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire life. Instead, if you can do just a couple of small things differently and be consistent over the long haul, you can put yourself on the road to long-term prosperity.
Stay Diversified, Stay Your Course!