Do you have any idea how much money you should have saved right now?
Without a financial adviser, it’s hard to really know where you should be at this stage in life — especially because dealing with money seems to get more stressful the older we get.
So, how much do you really need to have saved right now?
When you’re 30 years old, experts recommend having one year’s salary saved. So if you’re making $50,000, you should have at least $50,000 saved for retirement.
So are you close? Or are you a few zeros — or commas — away? No matter where you stand, we’ve rounded up some tips that can help you get there (plus, ways to protect your money once you’ve earned it).
1. Make Smart Investments With Just $1
It’s no secret the market has had its fair shares of ups and (mostly) downs these past few months, but you shouldn’t panic. If you’ve got money you’ve already invested, consider riding it out.
Markets are unpredictable, and they will always be volatile, which means sometimes they’ll go up, and sometimes they’ll go down — but over time, they tend to go up.
If you haven’t started investing and have some money to spare, you can start small. Investing doesn’t require you throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, you can get started with as little as $1.*
We like Stash because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what you feel.
Plus, with Stash, you’re able to invest in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in funds you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.
If you sign up now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you $5 after you add $5 to your invest account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**
2. Stop Wasting Money on Credit Card Interest
If you have credit card debt, the interest payments your credit card companies are charging could be costing you thousands of dollars — money that could be going into your savings account instead.
There is a way to eliminate that credit card debt and spare you the high interest payments. It’s called debt consolidation, and a free website called AmOne could help wipe out all of your credit card debt by the end of the week.
AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan to pay off all your credit cards at once. Its interest rates start at 3.49% — way lower than the 20% or more you’re probably paying your credit card company. Again, that could put thousands of dollars back into your bank account in the long run.
Plus, you’ll be debt-free that much faster.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online.
3. Spend Less On The Bills You Have To Pay
If you need to free up some extra room in your budget to put more into your savings account, one of the easiest places to start is to cut back on your monthly bills — like your current car insurance.
In most places, it’s straight up illegal not to have it, so you’ve probably accepted that you’re going to pay through the nose for it. But you don’t have to.
A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826 a year.
All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. Best yet: This is totally free.
If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.
4. Earn Extra Cash With a Side Gig
An additional income source — aka a side gig — can help you maximize your savings and reach your savings goal easier.
If you drive to work, consider signing up to drive for a ride-sharing service and pick up passengers during your commute. If you have in-demand skills, sign up for a quick-task service like Fiverr or TaskRabbit. And if you have a creative hobby, sell your products on Etsy.
There are thousands (maybe millions) of opportunities out there for people to make extra money without working an extra 40 hours a week. Just do your research and find the one that can help you reach your financial goals.
5. Make a Budget and Stick To It
This may sound like personal finance 101 — but that’s because it is.
When you need to focus on building up your nest egg, it’s super important to make a budget. By staying on budget, we can keep our long-term savings on track.
One of the simplest ways to get your budget in check is to use the 50/30/20 rule.
Here’s how it works: Take your monthly income and divide the after-tax amount in half. That’s your essentials budget (50%) for things like rent, utilities and groceries. Take the rest, and divide it into personal spending (30% for takeout, shopping and entertainment) and financial goals (20%).
Once you’ve divided your expenses, see what you can limit or eliminate. Pour that extra money into your financial goals, like your savings.
Find the balance that works best for you and stick to it!
6. Keep Your Money In A Safe (Free!) Spot
You’ve probably heard the best way to grow your money is to stick it in the stock market and leave it there for, well, ever.
But maybe you’re just looking for a place to safely stash it away — but still earn money. Sure, you could stick it under your mattress or in a safe, but good savers know better.
Here’s their secret: A debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 10% cash back when you swipe the card and up to 20 times the national average interest on the money in your account. Plus, you’ll never pay a monthly account maintenance fee.
To see how much you could earn, enter your email address here, link your bank account and add at least $10 to your account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
7. Think About The Future and Leave Your Family up to $1M
Look, not all of us have the money to set up trust funds for our loved ones. But you could still leave them up to $1 million in life insurance — even if you haven’t reached your savings goal yet.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for this. But it takes minutes — and you could leave your family up to $1 million with a company called Bestow.
We hear people are paying as little as $8 a month. (But every year you wait, this gets more expensive.)
It takes just minutes to get a free quote and see how much life insurance you can leave your loved ones — even if you don’t have seven figures in your bank account.
*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.