Having a sound financial strategy is essential to living comfortably. While you should always aim to save as much as possible, sometimes that doesn’t cut it. If you want to take your investing game to another level, here are five moves that can get you there.
1. Protect Your Car With a Service Contract
People buy new cars with the expectation that they’ll be around for a while. But, as you may have experienced first-hand, this isn’t always the case. Having a service contract ensures that you’ll be able to recoup your investment in the event of a major failure or accident. You can use a service like CARCHEX reviews to compare car warranty options.
What Is a Car Service Contract?
A service contract is a limited warranty that covers your car against both major and minor repairs, depending on the terms of the contract. There are two main types of vehicle service contracts:
- A powertrain warranty covers all of your key systems, including the engine, transmission, and drive axle.
- A bumper-to-bumper warranty covers most of the parts between the front and rear bumpers of your car.
Why You Should Get a Service Contract
A service contract helps protect your investment. By covering major, unexpected repairs, you’ll be able to avoid unplanned expenses. A service contract can also improve the retail value of your car if you choose to trade it in.
2. Max Out Your Employer-Matched 401(k)
If your company offers a 401(k), you should always take full advantage of it. Employer 401(k) matching is pretty common. Essentially, your employer agrees to contribute to your retirement portfolio if you do. So, if your company offers a 50% partial 401(k) match, that means it’ll add 50% of what you put into your 401(k) each year up to 6% of your salary.
Some companies offer dollar-to-dollar matching, meaning your employer will match your contribution up to a certain percentage of your salary. Even if your employer only provides a match up to 3% of your salary, it makes sense to take advantage of the opportunity because it’s basically free money and boosts your nest egg significantly.
The IRS limits how much you can contribute to your retirement plan, though. The maximum amount you can contribute to your 401(k) is $19,500 as of 2021. On the plus side, employer matching doesn’t affect your limit. So, even if you max out your contributions each year, the additional funds from the employer match won’t count towards the limit.
However, the combined investment from employees and employers has a limit of either 100% of your salary or $58,000. Either way, take advantage of your 401(k) by contributing to the max and letting go of any anxiety that you’re going to be stuck with a low return on your investments.
3. Save 10% of Your Paycheck
This particular move might be a challenge, but it’s one that will provide you with some extra wiggle room down the road. If you can make it a priority to save at least 10% of your paycheck in an emergency fund, you’ll be in good shape. It puts you in a position to have several months of expenses saved up. A rainy-day fund can be helpful should you lose your job or encounter other emergencies that are outside your control.
How to save 10% of your salary
There are many ways to save money year-round. If you’re having trouble saving 10% of your salary, try one of these options:
- Take on a side hustle – This will allow you to earn more money, which ultimately will make it easier for you to save.
- Add it to your monthly budget – If you haven’t done this already, it’s definitely time. Budgeting allows you to see where your money is going and calculate how much you can save.
- Open a high-yield savings account – Opening a high-yield savings account is another great move that you should prioritize. Not only will it earn you more than a traditional savings account, but the money is liquid and within easy access.
- Cut down your expenses – Make it a priority to streamline your expenses. Start by cutting down on things you don’t need.
- Maximize your retirement savings – If you’re in your 40s, it’s not too late to start saving for retirement. The earlier you begin, the more time compounding has to work in your favor.
- Say no to debt – Credit repayments can be a drain on your finances. Try to avoid it at all costs and save as much as possible. This will make it easier for you to build your emergency fund.
4. Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt
Paying your credit card balance in full every month is a smart move. To get rid of your credit card debt, there are three things you should do:
- Stop using your credit cards. Credit repayments can be a drain on your finances. Try to avoid it at all costs and save as much as possible. This will make it easier for you to build your emergency fund.
- Make sure that you’re paying at least the minimum amount due each month on time.
- Snowball your debt by paying off the account you owe the least. Once it’s paid off, take the money you were paying on it and add it to your monthly repayment for the next account with the lowest balance.
5. Repair Your Credit
Your credit score can be used to help determine your creditworthiness. It is a number that reflects the amount of risk you are for lenders. The higher your credit score, the less risk you are.
A credit score estimator calculates your credit score based on five factors:
- Payment history
- Credit utilization
- Length of credit history
- Types of credit used
There are ways to repair your credit. To get started, you’ll need to know the reason for the negative mark and figure out the best way to fix it. There are also a few things you can do right now to improve your chances of repairing your credit. Here are some tips for how to repair your credit.
- Pay off all of your debts and keep them paid off.
- Avoid late payments.
- Don’t apply for any new unsecured loans.
- Speak to a company that specializes in repairing credit history.
Being savvy with your money doesn’t require any special skills or even financial knowledge. All you need is to develop a habit of saving money on a daily basis, make a few educated decisions, and soon enough, you’ll be able to reach your financial goals.