You may have heard friends talk about how they got out of debt, started reaching their financial goals, and found more time by automating their finances, investments, and savings. As the years pass (and we grow more responsible) life can get a bit more complicated. That’s why putting savings on autopilot is a smart choice for many people.
Here we’ve put together some of the best ways we know turn on your “cruise control” and grow your savings.
First up, make sure your bills get paid on time—preferably, without you having to lift a finger. Either set up automatic payments directly through the payee’s site or do it through your bank’s bill pay feature (most, if not all, banks have this). If you can’t or don’t want to do either of those things, set a calendar reminder to pay your bills manually. The objective here is to avoid late charges and other fees by not paying your bills on time.
For an easy way to build big savings, download and use micro-saving apps like Acorns1, Digit1, or Stash1. All help you set aside spare change or extra cash that can help you build up your emergency savings and tackle unexpected expenses.
Another way to lower your monthly outflow is with Trim1, a service you access via text message or Facebook Messenger. Trim will analyze your accounts and help you easily cancel unused, forgotten recurring subscriptions like those pesky 30-day free membership auto-renewal offers. Trim can even negotiate savings on your cable bill, find you better car insurance, and more.
The most powerful tool you can use to quickly save a significant amount of money is by automatically diverting a portion of your paycheck into a pre-tax savings account. If your employer offers a retirement plan like a 401(k) or 403(b), that’s usually the best place to start. Not only will you save with pre-tax contributions, if your employer offers a match, that’s free money.
If you don’t have access to a retirement savings account through work, you can still save money outside of your job. Consider contributing to a low-cost individual retirement account through an online financial advisor like Betterment1. They pick the funds for you, make recommendations that control costs and taxes and automatically take care of portfolio rebalancing, reinvesting dividends, and tax loss harvesting. Fees start at 0.25% of your assets per year with no minimum balance. Just tell them what your goal is (saving for a rainy day or a down payment on a new house) and they’ll tailor an investment plan that’s just right for you. When you have questions, licensed experts are there to help, or to refer you to a one-on-one financial advisor.
If you have a short-term savings goal in mind (like a new mattress, sofa, or dining room table) in the next six months, adding to a fee-free savings account can be the best way to go. Simplify things by setting up a recurring transfer with your bank that is timed to your paydays. This way you don’t even have to think about it. When you don’t see the money in your everyday checking account, you’re less likely to spend it.
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