Goodbye, Summer … Hello, Savings

With the end of summer rapidly approaching, it’s time to think about hunkering down and putting some money in your pocket to make up for what you spent over the past few months at the beach, in restaurants, and on vacation.

Here are some easy, painless ways to pay yourself first.

Round up mortgage payments

If you’ve already refinanced your home or don’t qualify for a refinance, you may wonder what else you can do to save on your mortgage payment, which is likely your biggest household expense.

Why not round up your monthly payments? For example, say your monthly mortgage payment is $954.83. If you round up by an extra $45.17 to $1,000 per month, you’ll pay off your debt two years and five months early. For further inspiration, run your own numbers using an online mortgage calculator.

Get your employer match

Personal savings rates were up last year from 4.6 percent to 5.5 percent, according to data from financial research firm Hearts and Wallets. But new research shows that a smaller portion of savings were stashed in employer-sponsored plans.

Last year, 25 percent of employees failed to collect their full employer match, leaving an average $1,300 on the table (or $24 billion a year), according to Financial Engines, a 401(k) advisory firm. Don’t leave this “free money” on the table.

Personalize your savings accounts

Research shows that those who label their savings accounts with specific goals put away 31 percent more money than those who don’t. These results suggest that assigning meaningful names like “anniversary trip,” “dream home” or “vacation fund” makes your goals seem tangible.

Share resources

Don’t need a car all the time? Only want to use a bike every now and then? Want a vacation property but can’t afford it by yourself? These days, you can share all sorts of goods and services – from power tools to personal trainers – for savings all around.

Boost your credit score

Of all the painless ways to save money, improving your credit score is arguably the most important. From home and car loans to credit cards and auto insurance, a good credit score can save you a bundle – possibly tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, over a lifetime.

The simplest way to improve your credit score? Pay your bills on time.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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