Saving and investing your money is important in today's unreliable economy. A portion of the money you receive from any source should be set aside in a savings or investment account. Many people mistakenly believe that only money from their jobs count as investment or savings eligible money. However, that is not the case. There are many other places to get the money you need to start saving and investing for your future.
Monetary gifts from family and friends, lottery winnings, and settlement money are a few of the sources that you can get money to save or invest with. The majority of people spend extra (non-work) money they receive as soon as they get it. But if you opt to save or invest some of it instead, you can watch it accumulate in value over the years. The next time you find yourself with extra money derived from unexpected sources (maybe a Christmas gift, or a buddy repaying you for a loan), save a small percentage of it.
Another way to get money to save and invest is by cutting back on unnecessary expenses. You can pinpoint the areas that can be cut out or reduced from your budget by putting all of your spending habits on paper. Jot down everything you spend your money on monthly, then, mark the things that you can do without.
Once you have identified wasteful spending, calculate the amount you will be able to save or invest. Some examples of things that may be marked on your expense sheet include eating out, buying unnecessary items, or paying too much for the items you need when a cheaper generic brand may be just as good. You will be surprised at how many savings you can spot when you come face to face with your spending habits on paper. Most people spend on impulse without even taking into account how much money they could save. Even the smallest of changes can save you hundreds of dollars or more each year, which translates into thousands of dollars with added interest or return on investments.
There are many types of savings and investment opportunities available. Research and plan your strategies beforehand. When you are ready to start investing and saving money, review the different options carefully. Some investments may be risky, while others pose less of a threat of money loss. Many of the riskier investments, such as entering into the stock market, have the ability to make more money in a short amount of time. When the risk for loss is significantly less like with a Certificate of Deposit (CD) or savings account, it can take months or years before you see a return on your investment. If you are planning towards long term goals, such as retirement, you may find the less risky ventures more appealing but be clear about your timeframe. If you want to buy a house in 5 years, then you will need a higher rate of return in the next few years; but if you are thinking about a college fund for your newborn then you can take a 10-15 year perspective and go for a smaller annual return.
A good way to determine when you will need the money is to image yourself writing checks: are you buying a new TV for yourself? Are you paying your kidís college tuition? When you think about the future, who do you see yourself handing one of your cool, designer checks to? How do you look when you write it? This type of exercise lets you define your dreams and goals more clearly. Try it and youíll be surprised what you see.
Beginning a well thought out savings and investment plan will pay off in the long run. It can be used for your child's college expenses, as a nest egg in your golden years, or anything else that will benefit you or your family.