If you think it’s impossible to save money on your salary, think again – I’ve got good news for you. Even if you are a struggling secretary on close to minimum wage these totally doable tips from financial experts will help you save for the future – regardless of what your paycheck is!

You have no clue what you’re actually paying for each month

When was the last time you looked at your phone or cable bill? (Some of you are wondering if you ever have – if that’s the case you definitely need to read on).  Digital delivery of bills makes it so easy to pay that we rarely take the time to click the additional link to actually view the itemized charges on the bill. You could be saving money if you bought a router for Internet service instead of paying a monthly rental fee. By reevaluating the packages and rates of subscription services every  year you may find there’s a payment you don’t need to be making or at least a cheaper provider for the service that you are using. Service provider’s plans change all of the time, often resulting in opportunities for you to significantly cut down on your monthly billing. Make a point of checking your bill from time to time. It’s also an excellent idea of contacting your service provider and spending a few minutes to find out if there are any new opportunities for savings on your bill.

You’re saving for “retirement”

Whoa! Isn’t saving money for our golden years something we’re all supposed to do? When you are early in your career, don’t think about setting aside money today as for your retirement. Instead, reframe it as creating financial security for you to do what you want in the future.   So, yes, we still should be saving money for the future, but the real focus should be on creating sustainable income so we have the freedom to do the things we want to do. Sometimes this is investing in yourself or other assets that generate income, such as buying stocks or a rental property.

You pay off the smallest accounts first

It sure gives you a sense of accomplishment when you pay off all those pesky small accounts but are you really getting ahead of your debt by doing that?  The reality is that you are still likely making the wrong choice by increasing your debt. Instead of doing this, focus on the highest interest rate debt first.  For example, paying $500 towards a $3,000 credit card bill with a 19 percent interest rate will save you far more than paying off a $500 bill with a 6 percent interest rate. While this might seem obvious to some it’s amazing how many people don’t follow this advice.

You don’t know how to invest

Investing or saving money for the future can be a confusing and complicated endeavour. Comparing the benefits of a Roth versus a traditional IRA or deciphering terms like yields, P/E ratio, dividends, etc. is enough to make you throw in the towel and not make any decisions.  Don’t let indecisiveness lead to you to inaction. Talk to a financial advisor who can counsel you on these decisions and work with you on a financial plan that accomplishes both your short and long-term goals. There is a lot of qualified help out there.

Your savings don’t match your raises

You might already be trying to save money by stashing aside a set amount of your weekly paycheck, but what happens if you get a raise? Is all the extra money being spent on more entertainment, vacations, or a newer car? Instead, each year, if you get a raise, increase the actual percentage you are saving.  For example, if you get at 3 percent raise, increase your savings percentage by 1 percent and take home a 2 percent raise. If you’re a woman, don’t make this huge mistake when you ask for a raise.

You’re not using your flexible spending account

Stashing cash in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for health care is a great tool, if you use it. You must use the money on approved purchases or else lose it at the end of the benefit year. So, if you are only making small contributions to an FSA, consider if it’s worth the hassle to get the relatively small tax deduction. The tax deduction is more valuable if you know you will have something coming up, like braces for your child. Then it would probably be a good time to open up an FSA. This information is important for you to be able to lower your medical bills.

Your strangers with your savings account

If you’re only depositing your grandma’s yearly birthday check in your savings account, you’re missing out on savings—potentially thousands of dollars each year.  If you don’t have a workplace retirement plan or are struggling to save money annually in other accounts, get direct deposit. Choose an amount that’s feasible and schedule it to come out of your paycheck. By doing that you’ll remove the human temptation to spend that extra cash from your paycheck on something you don’t really need.” You won’t feel the pinch when you save money like this.

You have paycheck celebrations—every week

Celebration expenses are typically the impulsive purchases people make right after payday. You feel good because your bank balance again is up so you reward yourself with a nice dinner out or an expensive pair of shoes.  Whenever you receive your paycheck have a rough estimation of spending in mind; the deeper and more detailed that rough estimation is the better you will be at money saving that month. This doesn’t mean you have to give up celebration purchases, you just have to plan for them.  Make sure to set limits and stick to them.

You are enrolled in auto-pay

Wait just a minute! Autopay is easy, convenient and means bills are paid on time. How can this be a mistake?  Auto payment options allow me to pay on time but do they allow me to control how much I pay in draft fees? Do they allow me to be flexible with my budget this month?” Not so much as an automated bill payment is something you do not really control. It’s a constant, not a variable.

You don’t communicate with your partner

Money is never a popular subject for couples in long-term relationships. But not chatting about financial matters, like saving money, could lead to empty cash reserves and stress down the line. Your first step is to clearly define your short-term and long-term financial goals.  Go over some scenarios you might come across in your life together and discuss how you might handle them. For example, one of you gets a nice raise. How would you like to use that money? Or you’ve got some money in investments, and the stock market takes a turn for the worse. How do you respond?  Having these sorts of scenarios planned out with your spouse are important to your financial future.

You’re using a piggy bank

Using a piggy bank to save spare change doesn’t earn you any interest and it’s not very exciting when you toss in the coins. But a new app like Blast makes it fun because you earn micro-savings and interest (currently 2 percent APR) by playing your favorite games like Words with Friends or Candy Crush. Blast users set up their bank account, and save incremental amounts into an FDIC-insured savings account. Users can also micro earn more money by going on specific games missions and by getting on the weekly Blast leaderboard by earning extra points from missions. It’s all real cash that you have access to at any time but hopefully, you save it.

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