Perhaps these past few years would be the ones that highlighted uncertainty. Everything that we thought would be rock solid had come crashing down.
Financial institutions, companies and countries have all stumbled and are struggling to stand back up. Even the weather was highly erratic. It's not at all unusual to worry and wonder how you will weather the storms that enter your life from time to time.
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The Right Mindset
Saving your first $100,000 is a goal that is neither short nor easy. To get there you need to start training your mind. You need to understand how to achieve this goal and plan accordingly. If you are the kind of person who rarely notes your expenses or budgets, now would be the time to start. All actions need to be oriented towards achieving this goal. Saving could start from reducing that daily Starbucks habit or taking a bus to work. If you understand that these are minor sacrifices for a little less financial uncertainty, the going will be smoother.
Create Short-Term Saving Goals
It's all very well to imagine yourself in a country home post-retirement, but that may not get you going for now. Break your saving goals into further short-term goals. They could be even be weekly goals. For example, a man who ran a dry-cleaning service decided he would take some small change everyday and put it in his daughter's college fund, starting from when she was five. This did not hinder his business or his day-to-day life, and he had a tidy sum by the time his daughter was ready to go to college. The earlier you start and the smaller the amounts are when you first start, then you'll know you have started covering the distance of a long journey. You could have daily saving goals too. This will help keep you fired up for the longer goals. Savings accounts, certificates of deposits, money market deposit accounts and government bonds are good short-term money saving instruments. A savings account is particularly useful as an emergency fund keeper. These instruments also earn you an interest on your savings.
Save on Taxes
If you are employed and your employer is enlisted, go for a 401(k) tax deferred saving plan. The amount you contribute to the plan and the earnings on it are tax-free, until you pull it out for retirement. The percentage you contribute also reduces your taxable income by the same percentage. Early on in your career, you can invest in stocks more aggressively. If your employer is not enlisted with a 401(k) plan, then you could go for an individual retirement account (IRA). Earnings in an IRA account are also tax deferred. To enroll in either, all you have to do is fill out a simple form and contribute. This is a structured way to save, where the interest is compounded, with tax savings to boot.
Reduce Your Interest Burden
We want it all. We want the home, car, home theater system or the double door fridge. With a few easy key stokes online and we can have it. It turns out that instant gratification has a hefty price that could take years to repay and even years off your life. Prioritizing debt and reducing it is the first critical step to saving. Take a look at all of your loans and see how long it will take you to whittle them down. If you do have savings or fixed deposits, you can liquidate some to reduce your debt burden. If you get a bonus or a dividend, think of prepaying a part of your mortgage to reduce your interest burden. In the case of credit card debt, talk to your credit card company and negotiate for a lower rate if possible. Companies are sometimes offering to take on other credit card company loans at a lower interest in their pursuit of new customers. If you need to take out a loan, make sure you look around carefully and take money with the least interest. You will be surprised how many people don't. Do ask friends and family who might be willing to extend interest free loans for shorter periods.
Take Advantage of Employee Benefits
Look at how your employer can be your partner in your savings goal. Many employers contribute an equal amount to 401(k) plans. Contribute aggressively. Avail any other benefits your employer may provide like special discounts at stores, coupons or health plans. If your employer provides assistance for skill upgradation or 'back to school' programs, use them.
Generating Additional Income
Generating revenue is the other oar that will help you reach the $100,000 goal faster. Do you sew, do some other craft or teach? These are some hobbies that can help rake in some extra money. You could tutor children for a few hours or sell your crafts at the weekend market. You could spend some time investing in stocks or do some freelance projects. Don't let any of your skills or talents go to waste. They will help you earn some more money and keep you more fulfilled.
Keep Costs Low
There are always things you can do to keep your costs down like make more home dinners, walk short distances rather than take the car, read online rather than taking magazine subscriptions, take your kids to the park or zoo rather than the local mall, buy your groceries in bulk for the month and you will save more, stop smoking, take lunch to work, use your car until it can't be used anymore, buy a house within your means, if not rent, if you are not using that gym membership then don't renew it, recycle and reuse, use alternative energy to light and heat your home and you can sell what you don't use. The list is endless. There are many possibilities of saving in our everyday life. The dollars and cents will all add up to your $100,000 goal. Your quality of life will improve and not suffer.
The Bottom Line
Getting to your first $100,000 can be fulfilling, with many financial and non-financial insights along the way. It could mean redefining the way you live now, or strengthening it. Be it emergencies, or greater financial maneuverability and therefore opportunities, getting to that first $100,000 is a good habit to learn and keep.