Before I go too far into this, let me confess: I am no Ben Bernanke. Rather, I am just your run of the mill, single mother, trying to get by. Like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time – sometimes inside out, but still one leg at a time. However, in addition to being a full time working mom, I am also trying to build wealth for my future.
Why? Because I realize that I cannot finance my retirement. I made the decision that I do not want to live off of my children when I am old and gray. So, I knuckled down, did a little research and found five sure-fire ways to get more from my money immediately. And while some might seem simple and rife with common sense, each one comes with my own, unique twist; I monetized my life.
1. I Slashed My Cost of Living to Save
For years I had friends complain and whine about never having any money left over at the end of the month. Yet, they were always going out to eat or always enjoying nights out on the town, swiping a credit card as if they had a “Paris Hilton” level limit. When I added up my own, personal “sins” after doing my taxes this last year, I realized where costs needed to be cut. I cut the cable bill down to very basic (I rarely watch TV anyway), I slashed the power bill in half, I paid off every credit card I had a balance on (minimal at best) and I shopped cell phone carriers to get the best, unlimited bargains. When all was said and done, I cut my cost of living by $300 a month.
How I Monetized This: I pay most of my bills direct through each payee’s website with my cash back reward credit card. This helps me earn two or three percent cash back for each bill I pay.
Savings: $3,600 per year
Monetized savings: $468 per year
Total savings: $4,068 per year
Where this goes: A savings account or CD – I will discuss the “why” of this later on.
2. I Refer…A Lot
If I find a product or service that I absolutely believe in and value, I will refer the ever loving snot out of it. For instance, I got turned on to E-bates years ago, and have earned thousands of dollars in cash back benefits, in addition to grocery store coupon savings and more. Using a program like this, I simply log on to my account, find whatever store I like to shop at (Target is my kryptonite) and click the referral link to earn cash back. Then? I refer people on my social media contact list to this site to shop (using a free account) and earn $5.00 for each person who signs up and completes a purchase. I promote this on my blog and elsewhere to earn a regular stream of passive income. I save between two to twelve percent on every online purchase I make, and earn my referral bonuses to boot.
Of course, this is just one example. I have done the same across multiple platforms, generating me several streams of income and savings. But, that’s a story for another day.
Savings: $1,200 per year
Monetized savings: $1,000 per year
Total Savings: $2,200 per year
Where this goes: My Savings account or CD
3. I Maximized My Employer Matching
Working for RE/MAX, I am offered an employer matched 401k account, up to four percent of each withdrawal from my paycheck – including bonuses. I maxed out my matching and have squirreled away over $10,000 in a little over two years with this company. However, it doesn’t stop there. I regularly review my portfolio to make sure I maximize my earnings. At last count, I am earning approximately a seven percent per year return on my investment.
Savings: $5,000 per year
Monetized savings (by being proactive): $400 per year
Total savings: $5,400 per year
Where this goes: It stays in my 401k for safe keeping…for now.
All in all, I have managed to save $9,800 per year on the front end and monetize my life by over $1,800 per year on the back end for a total savings of $11,600. If I continue doing what I am doing, I can save and compound my interest savings to have well over a million dollars when I hit retirement age – of course the goal is to retire well before then. So now that you know my secrets, how are you saving and investing for your retirement?
More from this Contributor:
A Real Estate Survival Guide to Working With Fledgling Investors
Why I Stopped Stepping Over Dollars to Pick Up Dimes
‘Naked and Afraid’: The Real Estate Edition