According to Foxbusiness.com, the average American household will bring home $74,000 in 2017 before deductions, based on 2015 statistics adjusted for median wage growth.
But with the rising cost of living and the consumer-driven society we exist in, a salary doesn’t always go far. College tuition continues to burden postgraduates, while the price of gas is set to hit a three-year high as cheap fuel prices come to an end.
Then there’s the issue of debt. American households in the red on average owe money to the tune of $132,529.
Perversely, saving often falls to the back of the queue of immediate priorities. The aforementioned Foxbusiness article reports only 18% of the population contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). True, many employees are given 401(k) accounts by their employers, but 46% of respondents surveyed claimed they didn’t have the money to put away in the first place.
Of course, we’d all like to save more - and the reality of the situation is we can. Here are some easy money-saving tips to make your dollars and cents go further so that you can get more out of your money in the here and now and have a comfortable retirement in pace.
Prepare meals at home ahead of time
In New York, a 2013 Zagat article reported that diners traditionally spent $48.56 at dinner, went out for an average of 2.7 dinners a week, and racked up bills of over $500 a month. Four years ago.
True, New York prices far outweigh those in other States in the country, but one thing is clear: eating at restaurants makes a dent on your bank balance.
Instead, try to prepare meals on a Sunday before the week begins, and prepare lunch for every working day of the week. It’ll not only save you the hassle of trying to find a place to eat during lunch hour, it’ll also help you control portion sizes and eat better. Creating a single dish, be it healthy pastas, lasagnas, or falafels can be split into portions for an entire week, saving you hundreds of dollars every month.
Write down your expenses
Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking - what a chore. But keeping a simple logbook of everything you’re spending money on (and listing what’s being bought) will prove to be an invaluable aide later down the line. From month to month, you’ll be able to cut out non-essential products you’re habitually buying and even implement “no spend” days where you go the entire 24-hour stretch never once dipping into your back pocket for your credit card. Yup, it’s possible.
Open an IRA account
IRAs not only prepare you for a life after working but offer a neat tax break as well. In most cases, the money you put into an IRA account is tax deductible from the returns you file in the next year. However, every time you withdraw money from your scheme (for instance, when you’re retired) the cash will be considered taxable income.
If you don’t like the sound of that, there’s also the option of a Roth IRA, which reverses the equation. Contributions to a Roth IRA in the here and now are not tax deductible, but the money you withdraw from it when you’re retired will never be touched by the IRS.
And remember: when it comes to any retirement or savings scheme, set up debits to automatically go off your card every month.
Learn to say no
While it might sound like a good idea to follow retailers on Twitter and indulge in Black Friday deals, this all creates a churning desire for more, more, more. What you actually want to be doing is extricating yourself from rabid consumer culture entirely.
There are numerous examples of people who have made it big, gotten rich and found that it fulfills absolutely nothing except for a pressing need to build even greater wealth. As a certain East Coast lyricist once said: More money, more problems.
Haggle - and if you have to, complain
Many of the world’s most famous money savers have advocated the art of raising a stink when a product lets you down. You don’t need to go out of your way to cause trouble, but it’s certainly wise to stand your ground.
And then there are the bills and invoices we routinely carry every month. Even if you’re dealing with a Fortune 500 firm, there’s no harm in questioning a bill and haggling for a better price.