Cheers, friends! It’s a new year. Time to set some well-intentioned — but typically doomed — resolutions.
Lose 20 pounds. Read 50 books. Save $5,000.
Those big resolutions are sexy. They sound impressive when you tell friends. They’re also unlikely to last past Groundhog Day.
This year, ditch the lofty goals and focus on simple money-saving moves you can handle while nursing last night’s hangover. These quick changes take less than 30 minutes each and can help you hit your goal without cramping your style.
SAVE THE CHANGE, AUTOMATICALLY
Connect your bank account to an app like Qapital or Acorns to round up each transaction.
Spend $12.50 on an Uber ride, for example, and the app rounds up to $13, putting the extra 50 cents into a savings or investment account. The change adds up quickly, says Tim Kenney, founder and financial adviser at TK Pacific Wealth Inc. in Del Mar, California.
“I have a client who started this in the middle of (2018) and has almost $2,000 saved already,” he says.
You can also tell Qapital to save a set amount every time you spend on a splurge, like Postmates delivery.
UP YOUR APY
Do you have money saved at a brick-and-mortar bank? Move it to an online savings account. Your annual percentage yield, or APY — the money your money earns — will increase from 0.09 percent (the national average at traditional banks) to over 2 percent.
Here’s what that looks like:
– $1,000 saved in a traditional account earning 0.09 percent will earn $1 a year.
– $1,000 saved in a high-yield savings account earning 2 percent will earn $21 a year.
The more money you set aside, the more interest you could earn.
INCREASE YOUR 401(K) CONTRIBUTION
A small bump in your contribution can have a sizable impact on your eventual nest egg. Don’t see how? Let’s break it down.
Say you’re 25, earning $30,000 a year and contributing 5 percent to a 401(k). Stay steady at that rate and you would have $285,451 in your account by the time you turn 67 (assuming a 6 percent return). But up your contribution to 6 percent and you’ll have $342,541 when you retire.
That’s $25 more from your paycheck each month, but it turns into an extra $57,000 to live on in retirement — and this doesn’t factor in the inevitable raises you’ll receive, ’cause you’re a boss. Trust me, your future self will thank you for this.
Don’t have a 401(k)? Set up a low-fee individual retirement account, an IRA, through an online automated investment management service like Betterment or Wealthfront and build up your contributions annually.
GET CASH BACK
Sign up for a credit card that pays you back. Pick one that gives you cash back for specific purchases (gas and groceries, anyone?) or a general card that rewards you for all your purchases.
Don’t want a credit card (or can’t qualify for a rewards card)? Try an app that gives you cash back at specific merchants. Honey, a browser extension, finds coupon codes and on some purchases, you can earn rewards, which can be redeemed for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Target and Sephora.
CANCEL DORMANT SUBSCRIPTIONS
Netflix. Hulu. HBO Go. Spotify. ESPN Plus. Birchbox. Stitch Fix. Blue Apron. Those monthly fees add up — big time.
Do an audit of your subscriptions, cancel the ones you forgot you had, keep the ones you can’t live without and consolidate with a roommate/partner/family member where you can.
Save $120 in 2019 by canceling your Spotify subscription and going with the free version. Save an additional $60 by ditching ESPN Plus, because your fantasy football team tanked in the playoffs — again.
“The amount can seem very little, but the amount isn’t the point,” says Miguel Gomez, a financial adviser at Lauterbach Financial Advisors in El Paso, Texas. “The point is being mindful about what you’re spending.”
And that builds good habits that will help you save even more money over time.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Kelsey Sheehy is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @kelseylsheehy.
NerdWallet: How to set financial goals https://nerd.me/how-to-set-financial-goals
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