The key to financial stability is to spend less than you make while setting money aside for your future needs. People today are having trouble with both parts of that equation, spending more than they make in income and paying more in interest each month than they put away in a savings account. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can use to increase the amount that you are able to save each month. Here are some of my favorite smart strategies for increasing your savings.
Automate Your Savings
Saving money is much easier when you do not have to think about it. Automating your savings to occur as soon as you get paid will reduce the risks that you will forget to put the money into savings or that you will spend the money on something else. Many employers make automating your savings very easy by allowing you to direct-deposit your paycheck into several accounts according to your predetermined allocation percentages. If this is not an option with your employer, you may be able to schedule a transfer of the amount you want to save from your checking account to your savings account using the online features available on your bank’s website.
Bank Any Bonuses
Another way to quickly increase the amount of money in your savings account is to deposit any money you receive in addition to your regular paycheck into your savings account as soon as you receive it. This could include bonuses from work, tax refunds, lottery winnings, and monetary gifts. Because this money is not money that you regularly depend on, you can bank it without affecting your budget. You will be happy that you used this saving strategy when an unexpected expense occurs and you have the money to cover it.
Actively Reduce Your Spending
You can save more if you can reduce the amount you are spending each month on your regular expenses. Actively reduce your spending by considering the costs of everything you buy and evaluating whether it is worth the cost or whether the money would be put to better use being saved for the future. While at the grocery store, weigh which items must be name brand and which ones can be purchased as the cheaper store-brand variety. When choosing a place to eat lunch, choose based on cost as much as the taste of the food. There is a good chance that you will find many opportunities to reduce your spending during the course of a normal week.
Investing is often viewed as a very complicated endeavor by people that are new to investing. They often believe that the only way to be a successful investor is to know many complex formulas and how to predict future trends accurately. While it is important to do some research before making an investment, you do not have to be an expert in all things investing to be successful at investing. Here are several easy investing methods that anyone can use regardless of their investing experience.
Invest In Index Funds
If you are beginning investing and are not sure what you should be investing in, consider investing in index funds. Index funds are structured to match the movements of a certain financial market. The models that these index funds use for asset allocations are computer-based with little active management, so they are pretty easy to understand and the fees are generally low. Index funds are a good bet if you are interested in making money over the long term as studies have shown that index fund results generally beat the results of investments that are actively managed.
Take Advantage Of Employer Sponsored Investment Opportunities
Another good way for beginning investors to dip their toes into the investing pool is to take advantage of the investing options available through their employer. Many employers offer their employees the option to participate in 401(k) retirement investment accounts sponsored by the company (or a 403(b) plan if you are employed by a non-profit company). These companies also have investment advisers available that can answer any questions you may have or help you make an investing plan that suits your financial situation and future goals.
Explore Online Investing Services
There are a number of online investing services available that have streamlined the investing process to make it easy for anyone to invest. Investment service Loyal3 allows investors to invest as little as $10 in a stock and has created a tracking system that is very easy to understand (click here if you want to sign up – you can’t beat no fee investing). Investment service Betterment creates an investment package for you based on the investment goals you input into the system and your stated allocation of stocks versus bonds. These types of services are great for beginning investors because they provide simple to use tools that can increase the investor’s chances of success.
For more on stock investing, check out our posting on stock market basics.
While many people have embraced online banking as an innovative way to conduct their banking transactions, many others are reluctant because they do not see how banking online will benefit them. There are many benefits to online banking that nearly everyone can take advantage of. Here are some of the ways that online banking can benefit you.
Banking Anytime, Anywhere
One of the biggest benefits to online banking is the ability to do your banking tasks at anytime, anywhere you happen to be. You do not have to wait for a banking location to open or locate an automatic teller machine (ATM). Just log into your account using an internet connected computer or your mobile phone and you will have immediate access to your bank accounts.
Lower Account Fees
Financial institutions that are primarily located online have less overhead than banks with a lot of physical locations. They do not have to pay for the costs of running buildings or paying employees to staff them. Many of these institutions pass on that savings to their customers in the form of lower account fees and higher interest rates on savings accounts. Compare the fees and rates for the accounts of several banks to see which ones have the best options for your current financial needs.
Ability To Set Automatic Payments
Banking online also gives you the option of automating your regular payments using the bank’s auto-pay services. By entering the payments that need to be paid and their amounts into the online system, you can schedule the payments to be made automatically from your account each month to the appropriate businesses. Once the payments have been entered into the system and authorized, they will continue until you physically change or cancel them in the system.
Ability To Set Account Alerts
Another important feature of online banking is the ability to set account alerts for certain actions that affect your account balance. You can set alerts for when deposits are made into your accounts, when fees are charged, when account balances are low, and when charges that exceed a certain amount are paid from the account. These alerts can be sent to your email address or your mobile phone by text message so you are alerted as soon as the action occurs.
Less Paper Used
Banking online allows you to significantly reduce the amount of paper you consume related to your financial activities. You can review your account statements and copies of checks written online. You can also eliminate the need to write checks by setting up online payments through the bank’s website.
Do you use a car or van for your job? Why not grab attention and stand out from the sea of boring block coloured vehicles? An eye-catching sign will not only turn heads, but can also promote your business at the same time.
Do your research
Browse the internet, look for websites and branding to get an idea of the types of signs that businesses are using. It’s also worth checking out your competition to see what signage they use. This will mean you don’t end up with something similar!
Work out the details
Think carefully about what you want to convey in with your sign. What do you want tell people? What is their call to action? Do you want a full brand makeover or are you looking to add to your existing logo? What kind of functionality are you after? What are the legal parameters of your idea? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself before you get started. The best signs are short, sharp and simple.
The majority of potential customers will see the van on the road or parked in a street so your message needs to be loud and clear. Make sure the important information (like contact details) is clearly visible, even from a distance.
Visit the experts
Depending on how creative you’re feeling, you can start mocking up some of your own designs to get some ideas. But unless your competent, it’s usually best to visit a specialist sign writing company who can help bring your brand to life. And while you might have a rough idea of what you’re thinking about, also be open to suggestions – after all, companies like these do it for a living and will know what works (and what doesn’t).
Take out insurance
If you drive a van you’ll need insurance. If you’ve made an effort to have a sign on your van, look for a van insurance company that will insure your sign as well as your van. A good insurance policy will aim to have you in a replacement van as quickly as possible, so you can be back on the road again in next to no time.
photo courtesy of time_anchor