Saving up the hundreds of thousands dollars – or even a few million – that you’ll need to retire happily and securely can feel overwhelming, even impossible. But there’s a better way to make it more manageable: Think in small steps. What if you saved just $5 more every day?
Small savings add up. Five dollars a day means $35 a week or about $150 a month. It’s $1,820 a year. Over 20 years, that $5 daily savings could total about $70,000, assuming a 6% annualized rate of return. That’s probably not enough on its own to retire comfortably. But it’s a nice start. And once you’ve saved $5 a day, how much harder is it to save $10 or even $20 each day? You might be surprised at how easy it is to find savings in your life.
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A Starbucks large coffee drink costs about $5, as do some online movie rentals or lunches. Think about the little things you spend money on or start tracking your expenses. Here’s some inspiration for how you might save $5 more each day:
- Cut down on restaurant meals. Picking up a sandwich and soda for lunch at a deli is likely to cost $7 to $12 in most cities. Bringing a sandwich and soda from home, on the other hand, often costs just $3 or $4 – a nice $5-plus savings. Restaurants typically charge at least double what you’d pay for food at home, so it’s low-hanging fruit. Cut down on meals out and you’ll quickly save money.
- Pare back your cable service. Some cable companies will lower your bill simply if you call and threaten to disconnect service. But there are other possible ways to reduce it. You might be only watching a portion of channels you have and can arrange a bundle with fewer frills. Calling your cable provider and mentioning you need to scale back is a good way to explore your options.
- Check out the library. Read a lot? Books, even digital ones, can get pricey if you’re buying them on a regular basis. But your local public library loans out books for free. Many public libraries also now loan out eBooks for Kindles, Nooks and other electronic reading devices. You may need to get on reservation lists for the most popular titles, but if you’re willing to wait a bit, you can get them for free.
- Comparison shop. Many people go the grocery store and just pick off the shelves what they need. But if you take a little extra time to scan for coupons beforehand or even just read the price labels at the store, you can save quite a bit. Consider when stores offer two-for-1 deals on shampoo that costs $4.99. That’s $5 savings right there. Also look at your other shopping habits. Buying generic versus brand-name drugs, for instance, can save a bundle.
Once you’re finding little ways to save, put your retirement savings on autopilot by making automatic monthly or bi-weekly contributions to an individual retirement account, such as a Roth IRA, or a savings account.