Why life insurance
Life insurance is a financial safety net for your partner, your kids, your life...Read more
Year after year, the top financial New Year’s resolution for many Americans is to save more money. Yet, those good intentions often don’t materialize into an actual increase in savings. A recent survey by AARP found that 43% of adults who vowed to save more had already broken their resolution two months into the year.
Don’t let that discourage you, though. Sticking to a resolution to save more doesn’t have to be that hard if you find easy ways to save – and there are plenty.
You may find that a three-pronged approach could boost your savings in 2023. First, look for easy ways to cut costs, so there’s more room in your budget to build an emergency fund and increase retirement savings. (If you’re not sure how to create a budget, start here.)
Then, find easy ways to generate extra cash that you can stash in savings.
Finally, take advantage of these money-saving tips to grow your savings.
Cutting costs doesn’t have to involve hours of clipping coupons, eating only beans and rice, or turning down the thermostat to 60 degrees and wearing five layers. There are easier – and less painful ways – to reduce your expenses to have more room in your budget to save.
Have you taken the time to see where your money actually is going every month? “The easiest ways I saved money was to comb through my bank statements and see what I was spending money on,” says Miriam Joy Niblack, founder of the financial independence blog Greenbacks Magnet. She was able to save $8,000 in just one year by cutting out all unnecessary expenditures.
“One of the easiest ways to save money is by reducing your energy bill,” says Robert Farrington, founder of The College Investor. You can do this quickly – by replacing traditional incandescent lightbulbs with LED bulbs. Although LED bulbs are more expensive than conventional bulbs, they pay for themselves. Farrington says his monthly electric bill dropped by an average of $70 after he switched his lightbulbs.
Chances are you’re paying more for renters, homeowners or car insurance than you need to. When Vicki Cook, co-founder of Women Who Money, recently shopped around to see if she could get cheaper insurance coverage, she found that she could save hundreds of dollars by switching insurers. “It’s a little bit of work, but the payback can be big,” she says. “I’ve taken my insurance off ‘auto-pay’ now so that I will remember to shop it each year.”
You might also be overpaying for other services – cellular service, in particular. “Most people only know the most expensive options,” says Logan Allec, a CPA, and owner of personal finance blog Money Done Right. “But there are many other networks out there that are only a fraction of the cost.”
“We often think we can’t cut something because it’s indispensable until you track how much you really use it versus how much you think you use it,” says Jim Wang, a money-saving expert and founder of Best Wallet Hacks. So make a list of streaming services, gym memberships (and other services) you pay for on a monthly basis, then keep track of how often you use them. You’ll likely find that there are at least a few you can ditch because you rarely use them.
You can save money – and time – by ordering groceries online and picking them up or having them delivered. Andrew Daniels, co-founder of Millennial Homeowner, says he slashed his grocery bill by 30% using this simple strategy because it helps him avoid the impulse buys he makes at the store. Plus, it’s easier to stick to a shopping budget because the online cart shows the cost before he checks out. And the time he’s not spending shopping, he can work and earn more.
Retailers often sell their gift cards at a discount around the holidays. You also can find discounted gift cards on websites such as GiftCardGranny.com and Raise.com.
Sure, gift cards make great gifts. But you can use discounted gift cards to get instant savings when you shop. “Keep an eye out for these deals and stock up on them if they have them for stores that you frequent often,” says Rachel Jones of Moneyhackingmama.com.
To update your wardrobe for free, iHeartBudgets.net founder Jacob Wade recommends hosting a clothing swap party. Invite friends to bring clothes they don’t want, hang up the items and let everyone pick and choose what they want. You also could join your local “Buy Nothing” Facebook® Group, which connects people who want to find and get rid of things for free.
“We used this for everything, including baby and kids’ clothing, as well as clothes for ourselves,” Wade says. It has saved his family hundreds of dollars on clothing.
Donna Freedman, a personal finance journalist and author of the “Your Playbook For Tough Times” books, has several easy strategies to eliminate those budget-wrecking impulse buys. Before buying anything, give yourself a cooling-off period of at least a day to consider whether it’s something you really want. You could call a friend to talk you down from the purchase.
Or take the time to figure out the true cost of the purchase – how many hours you’d have to work to pay for it. Then consider how you could put that money to work for you by investing it instead, Freedman says.
You can only cut expenses so much. To really kick your savings into high gear, look for ways to generate more cash. Believe it or not, making extra money can be easy.
“Many banks are now offering several hundred dollar cash bonuses to new customers just to open an account, deposit money and set up a direct deposit,” Wang says. That extra cash could be the start of an emergency fund, then you could keep funding it with the money you save by cutting expenses.
You can make money by using a cash back credit card to make everyday purchases. These credit cards offer a percentage back in cash of each purchase you make. By using a cash back credit card to make all of their purchases, Whitney Bonds, founder of the blog Tried and True Mom Jobs, and her husband racked up $600 in cash back rewards last year.
“This is essentially free money as long as you are responsible and can pay your bills on time” to avoid paying interest on a balance, she says.
You also can earn cash back on purchases by using cash-back shopping portals such as Rakuten™ and Mr. Rebates™. “Cash back shopping just requires you to take two extra steps for online shopping,” says Abigail Perry, founder of the I Pick Up Pennies blog. “Instead of going directly to the store’s website, you go to the rebate site and find the store there, then click that store link.” You’ll get a percentage of your purchase amount back by check or a PayPal™ deposit.
An easy way to generate extra cash for savings is to sell things you no longer use, says Katie Brewer, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and founder of Your Richest Life. “Twice a year, I try to clean everything out of my house,” she says. For example, if she finds clothing she hasn’t worn, she uses mobile apps, such as Poshmark™ or Mercari™ to list her items and get a percentage of the sales price. You also can use local consignment stores, Craigslist™ or Facebook to sell unwanted items.
“The emergence of fintech apps, like Uber™ and Airbnb™, is making it easier than ever to earn extra money, which you can then use to boost your savings,” says Tom Drake, founder of MapleMoney.com. (We’d add budgeting apps to that list, too.) “The beauty of these money-making apps is that you decide when you work, and how much money you want to make.”
Plus, the apps bring customers to you. You can become a pet sitter with an app such as Rover™, rent out your car with Turo™ or your RV with Outdoorsy™, deliver food with Uber Eats™, and the list goes on.
An overwhelming majority of taxpayers got a refund for the 2022 filing year, and the average amount they received was $3,176, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That means most Americans are letting Uncle Sam hang onto too much of their paycheck during the year. Use the IRS tax withholding calculator to see if you may want to adjust your withholding and put money back in your paycheck that you could consider contributing to your workplace retirement account or other account.
Life insurance is a financial safety net for your partner, your kids, your life...Read more
Cutting costs and generating extra cash won’t improve your bottom line unless you actually put the money in a savings account, or you may want to consider investing it. The following strategies can help you increase your savings rate and grow the money you have in savings faster.
If you use the tips listed above to cut your costs, make sure you actually put the money you save into a savings account. “For several years now, I’ve had a saved savings account,” Perry says. “When I save with a coupon, sale or store rewards on something I was going to buy anyway, the money goes in the account. I also put in the savings that I got from cutting the cord, getting my Internet bill lowered.”
“Most people hardly bother to think about their pocket change,” Allec says. But a few cents here and there can add up quickly. So set out a jar to collect your spare change. “Using a change jar can help you put away an extra couple hundred dollars each year without additional effort,” he says.
If you rarely use cash, you could use a savings app, such as Acorns®, Digit™ and Qapital™, to round up debit and credit card purchases and invest that spare change for you, helping you effortlessly save each month.
If you have cash stashed in a savings account for an emergency fund or short-term savings goal, check the interest rate on the account. “If they aren’t giving you any notable interest on your money, it could be time to take your money elsewhere,” says Brett Holzhauer, a writer at FinanceBuzz. You still can find high-yield savings accounts with rates of 3% or higher, according to Bankrate. The higher the rate, the faster your savings will grow.
Most of our tips deal with cutting costs in 2023. But if you haven’t bought life insurance yet, now can be the best time to do so. That’s because rates tend to be lower when you’re young and healthy. So if you know you need coverage, now is the time to get it.
How much life insurance should you buy? That depends on your circumstances, but an online life insurance calculator can help determine the best plan for you that will cover what you need — without breaking the bank.
If you get a pay raise for 2023, consider putting the extra money into your retirement account instead of your checking account, or consider increasing your 401(k) contribution percentage when you receive a raise to help maximize your retirement plan contributions, says Byrke Sestok, a CFP® professional and co-founder of Rightirement Wealth Partners.
Nearly 60% of Americans aren’t prepared to cover the costs of an unexpected injury or serious illness, according to a survey by Bankrate. An easy way to save for health care costs is to take advantage of a health savings account or medical flexible spending account. If your employer offers these accounts, you can have contributions to either one deducted automatically from your paycheck.
You can consider opening a 529 college savings plan account to save for your children’s education with a deposit of $50 or less. Then you could ask family to contribute to the account for birthdays and holidays instead of overloading your kids with gifts, says DeDe Jones, a CFP® professional and managing director of Innovative Financial. “Money you don’t have to spend on your kids’ college could help you save for retirement,” she says.
For more of your investment money to work for you, look into the potential for reducing the fees you’re paying on the investments in your account. Even a small fee reduction of 1% can reduce the value of a $100,000 portfolio with a 4% annual return by $30,000 over 20 years compared with a fee of 0.25%, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. If the fees you’re paying on your investments are high, investigate lower-fee alternatives.
Saving money doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Make it fun – and easier to do – by creating a reward system for reaching savings goals, Jones says. Remember, though, that the reward should be something that costs little or nothing, such as taking a favorite hike.
Cameron Huddleston is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances. She is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MSN, Yahoo and many more print and online publications. U.S. News & World Report named Cameron one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named me one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, MSNBC, CNN and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR and more than 30 podcasts. Cameron has also been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, BBC.com, MarketWatch and more.Read more by Cameron Huddleston
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
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