Money Saving Tips for Young Professionals

For young professionals, managing their money is a huge challenge. There are those who are earning an overwhelmingly large amount, that they don’t know how to deal with it.

On the other hand, there are also young professionals, who seem to live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. It’s not really because they are only earning a minimal salary, but has something to do with being unable to adjust their lifestyle based on what they are earning.

No matter which of these two categories you fall under, it is best to know how to deal with the task of managing their finances, and which tips you can follow to save those hard-earned dollars in the process.

Saying No (thank you)

There are so many things that could pop up and change your financial plan and priorities. Things like vacations, dining out expenses, impulse big-ticket purchases, and overall fear of missing out (FOMO) can cause a financial plan go awry. The key is to learn to be as protective of your money as you are of your time. You only have so much to allocate over a set period. Prioritize for those areas that matter most and make a commitment to say “no” to the rest, even if it does mean turning down lunch, happy hour, or a weekend getaway. Be nice about it though, the goal is for people to still want to hang out with you

As a young professional, you should take steps not just to guard your wealth, but your health as well.

Find work that you’re passionate about so that you would not dread the thought of getting up each morning to do your job which pays the bills. When you’re healthy and inspired while doing your work, the financial aspect of it will naturally follow.

Appropriately investing for your future

This applies not only to saving for retirement but also furthering your education through an advanced degree or career training. As you’ve likely been told many times by Gen X & Boomers alike, “the earlier you start saving, the better” and “never stop learning.”

Both of these are true. We all know that saving early is important but it’s the habit of doing so automatically and on an ongoing basis that is important here. By setting yourself up on automatic paycheck deductions or transfers to savings accounts and “forgetting about it” (except for the one or two times a year that you review and update it), you’re getting into the habit of putting money aside for your future. A habit that should likely continue until retirement.

Make lifestyle adjustments based on your current salary

Let’s say that you just landed an entry-level position at a mid-scale company in your state. When you were still in college, your parents financially provided for everything you need. Now that you’re living on your own and are supporting yourself, you do not necessarily have to follow the lifestyle of your parents.

If they can afford to take cruises to exotic destinations, become members at exclusive country clubs or regularly eat out at pricey restaurants, it’s because they are already past that stage when they are working for their keep. They have already earned the luxuries that they are enjoying. As a young professional, you’re still at that level where you need to work your way from the bottom up – to adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going out during weekends or buying good quality shoes, you still need to stick to a budget. Don’t buy anything that you can ill afford and while you are still saving up for that dream vacation, enjoy a lifestyle that is fun yet affordable.

Knowing where your money is going

You’re part of a tech-savvy generation and if you don’t track yet your spending online, you should start doing that. Budget apps like MoneyCoach can help you for not only tracking your spending but setting parameters around it as well. You have the opportunity to watch your net worth grow as you begin saving money and paying down debts. Cash flow management (or mismanagement) can make or break your financial health. Once you know where your money is currently being spent, you’ll be able to make adjustments as needed.

Asking questions

You can apply this habit not only in finances but in life in general but since we’re talking about finances, it’s incredibly important that you understand what is happening with your money. Get in touch with your attorney, and your financial planner and ask them financial questions. Read books on personal finance. Read the fine print on contracts, agreements and anything else you put your signature on and ask questions before signing. Knowledge is power when it comes to your money and there are no stupid questions.

How to Save for Retirement

The best way to save for retirement is in a retirement savings account.

We’re not trying to be cheeky. Just super literal.

There are lots of different types of investment accounts, but retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s were created specifically to give people incentives to save for retirement.

These accounts are some of the best deals going: Unlike regular investment accounts, they give you a tax break on your savings, either upfront or down the road when you withdraw funds. And in between, your investments are shielded from the IRS and grow without being taxed.

So when we’re asked how to save for retirement, our answer is to take full advantage of the retirement savings accounts available to you.

How to save for retirement in three steps

  1. Get your free money. We covered this in Chapter 1, but we’ll hammer it again: If your company offers an employer-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401(k), and matches any portion of the money you contribute, direct your first savings dollars into that account, at least until you receive the full match. If your plan doesn’t offer matching contributions, or you don’t have a workplace retirement plan, start with the next step.

  2. Contribute to an IRA. We’ll help you figure out which type of IRA is better for you — a Roth or traditional — in a moment. You can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA each year (or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older).

  3. If you max out the IRA, turn back to your 401(k) or other employer plan and continue making contributions there.

The 411 on 401(k) plans

There are a lot of perks to having access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. A few of the biggies:

  • It makes it easy to save on autopilot: Money is taken out of your paycheck.

  • You may get paid to save: Many employers match a portion of employee contributions.

  • Investment gains are tax-deferred: As long as the money remains in the plan, you owe nothing as it grows.

The downsides:

  • Investment choices are limited: Investments available through a 401(k) are picked by the plan administrator and the selection is typically small.

  • Fees can erode your returns: In addition to investment expenses (which are charged by the investments themselves, not the 401(k) plan), there may be administrative fees charged by the company that manages the plan.

The conclusion: Invest up to the match and pay attention to fees. Even if it’s a crummy plan (lame funds, lame fees), the money you contribute still lowers your taxable income for the year and you get tax-deferred growth on investment gains.

Once you leave your job, you might want to roll over the money into an IRA to take control. Here’s how to decide if that’s the right move and how to do a 401(k) rollover into an IRA.

Retirement investment account types in a nutshell

We just threw a lot of retirement-account-related particulars at you. Just wait until we get to the minutiae of the underlying tax code.

Kidding! We memorized all that stuff and have distilled it into plain English so that you don’t have to slog through it on your own.

Roth IRA vs. traditional IRA

There are other types of IRAs, but the two biggies are the Roth and traditional IRA. The main difference between them is how taxes work:

Traditional IRA: The money you contribute may be deductible from your taxes for the year, meaning you fund the account with pretax dollars. You’ll pay income taxes on money you withdraw from the account in retirement.

Roth IRA: Contributions are not deductible — the account is funded with post-tax dollars. That means you get no upfront tax break as you do with the traditional IRA. The payoff comes later: Withdrawals in retirement are not taxed at all.

There are other differences as well. (Interested parties can take a moment to hear more from both sides in our Roth IRA vs. raditional IRA deep dive.) But for most people, choosing between the two comes down to the answer to this question:

When you retire and start drawing money from your investment accounts, do you anticipate that your tax rate will be higher than it is right now?

Not sure how to answer that question? That’s OK: Most people aren’t. For this reason, and the pluses outlined in the table above, you may want to lean toward the Roth.

Taxes are low right now, which means most people who qualify for a Roth are probably going to benefit from its tax rules down the road. So, you’ll pay taxes now when your tax rate is low, and pull the money out tax-free in retirement, dodging the higher rate you expect later.

If you believe your taxes will be lower in retirement than they are right now, taking the upfront deduction offered by a traditional IRA and pushing off taxes until later is a solid choice.

Still undecided? You can contribute to both types if you’d like, as long as your total contribution for the year doesn’t exceed the annual limit. (See the contribution limits in the table above.)

Note: Some employers also offer a Roth version of the 401(k). If yours is one of them, follow this same line of thinking to decide whether you should contribute to that or the standard 401(k).

A word about IRA eligibility

Both traditional and Roth IRAs have restrictions in certain circumstances, which means that the choice between the two may be out of your hands. For example, if you earn too much, you may not be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. If you have a 401(k), you may not be able to deduct traditional IRA contributions at certain incomes. For a full breakdown of those limits and phaseouts, see Roth and Traditional IRA Contribution Limits.

Figuring out how much you need to save

Now that you know where to sock away money for retirement, the remaining question is: How much should you be saving?

Answer: As much as it’ll take to cover your retirement expenses.

OK, that time we were trying to be cheeky. But back to serious business: the brass tacks of calculating how much to save for retirement.

Aim to save at least 10% to 15% of your pretax income

That’s what most experts recommend, and it’s a good starting point for your own calculations.

If you decide that’s the only retirement savings math you’re going to do, you’ll be in pretty good shape. (Although if you’re a really late starter, you may have to make some adjustments.) But with just a little more effort, we can come up with a much more personalized retirement savings goal.

How much will you really need to retire?

That’s the million-dollar question (plus or minus several hundred thou).

But seriously — don’t be intimidated by the high dollar figures we’re about to bat around. Time (the passage of which will allow your investments to grow), tax breaks and compounding interest will provide the wind you need to propel your retirement portfolio returns.

We told you upfront we’d spare you any mathematical heavy lifting. True to our word, all you need is your current age, pretax income and current savings for NerdWallet’s retirement calculator to tell you how much money you need to exit the working world by age 67 (Social Security’s full-benefits age for those born from 1960 on), or whatever retirement age you choose.

Plug those numbers in below and you’ll launch our retirement calculator, which will open in a new page. The calculator will project how much monthly income you’ll have in retirement, based on your current savings, as well as how much you’ll need to sock away.

20 Easy Ways to Save Some Money Every Day

These days, in our world of instant gratification, it’s more important than ever to be able to stay focused on saving money any way you can. So to help you monitor your spending habits and cut expenses, here are 20 easy ways you can save every day—starting right now. How’s that for instant gratification?

1. Host a potluck. The more friends you have, the more money you spend on lunch dates, birthday parties and gifts. Switch it up and, instead of meeting over a fancy dinner, host a potluck and have everyone bring his or her favorite dish. That way, you can save money you’d spend on restaurant extras, such as tax, tip and parking—and you’ll usually have a more intimate meal together, too.

2. Make a weekly “money date.” Commit to sitting down with your money once a week for a money date. During this time, update your budget, review your accounts and track your progress against your financial goals. Like any relationship, if you want your financial life to improve, you must spend time with your money.

3. Plan out your meals for the week. Taking a few hours every weekend to grocery shop and meal plan for the week will definitely save you money, as dining out is the No. 1 expense for most households. By eating at home, you save money that would otherwise be spent on tax and tip—and you usually save calories, too.

4. Cut out cable. Gasp! Cut out TV?! Never! But with services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can now watch your favorite TV shows and movies for a fraction of the cost of cable TV.

A study by market research firm NPD Group shows that cable bills will soon grow to an average of $123 per month, or $1,476 per year. By switching over to an online service or cutting out TV altogether, you can save that money for another financial goal—such as paying off debt, traveling or saving for a down payment on a home.

5. Switch to an exercise pass program. If you love working out, an exercise pass program such as Class Pass is the way to go. By paying a membership fee of $99 per month, you are welcome at many of the best studios in your area. And classes—like cycling, yoga, Pilates, barre, strength training, boot camp, dance and more—are unlimited. This beats having to pay for each studio’s monthly membership or individual class fee, which can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.

6. Leverage lodging rental websites. Finding a place to stay while traveling is so convenient when you use a lodging rental website such as Airbnb, Travelmob or Housetrip. You can often find a place that has a kitchen (so you can cook meals at home to save money) at a rate that’s comparable to hotels. You can even rent out your own place on sites such as Airbnb while you travel to make some extra cash to pay for your own travel expenses. It’s a win-win scenario.

7. Make coffee at home. This one’s not my favorite, as I absolutely love going to coffee shops and drinking delicious organic coffee. However, spending $4 to $5 on coffee every day definitely adds up. So try my approach and allow yourself a few days a week to buy coffee at cafés, and make it at home the rest of the time.

8. Work more. When you’re working a lot, there’s not much time left to shop and spend money. So stay busy and pursue a career you love.

9. Wait 48 hours before you click “buy.” Since we can have anything we want these days with just the click of a button (there’s that instant gratification again), you need to find a system to help buffer your impulse purchases.

Example: Wait 48 hours before spending money on things that cost more than a certain amount. When you do, you will find that, most of the time, the item was more of a “want” than a “need.” Plus, you’ll save money and work toward being more mindful with your spending.

10. Use blogs and Pinterest to learn DIY beauty treatments. Self-care is important—but going to spas and getting pedicures, massages, etc., can really add up. Allow yourself a certain amount to spend on these things; then use blogs and apps like Pinterest to find at-home beauty treatments to help you save money. Often you can find a DIY organic option using common household or kitchen products.

11. Outsource online. Time is a commodity, and your time is precious and valuable. And these days, there are so many tasks you can outsource that will save you time and money. But how do you figure out if outsourcing something is worth the expense?

A great thing to do is to actually calculate the cost of your time, which will help you figure out if you can pay someone to do something for less than your hourly rate. Here’s an example: A monthly net income of $3,000 divided by a total of 160 hours worked equals an hourly rate of $16.75. Now that you know the value of your time, you can strategically outsource it using a service like Fiverr or Task Rabbit for a fraction of your own hourly rate.

12. Choose quality over quantity. This can apply to food, clothes, electronics and much more. Although it’s tempting to choose the more budget-friendly version of an item, sometimes choosing quality over quantity will save you more in the long run. Save up your money and get the best-quality product you can afford, and leverage the cost-per-wear philosophy with more expensive clothing and shoes.

This applies to food, too: Buying quality organic food can nourish you in ways that fill you up more than the prepackaged, processed stuff and potentially save you money on health-care expenses in the future, since you’re taking good care of yourself. Find a balance that is right for you and choose quality whenever you can.

13. Deal with your emotions. Excessive spending is often a way to avoid feeling certain emotions. If you check in with yourself before you go on a major spending spree, you may be able to identify if you’re feeling bored, lonely or stressed and are therefore spending money as a means to avoid the underlying emotion. Check in with yourself before you buy, and be mindful with your spending.

14. Stop trying to keep up with the Kardashians. It’s hard to keep your blinders on and not compare your financial life to that of others, especially celebrities. However, it is really important to be clear about what matters most to you and make sure you build a financial plan that supports that vision. This will keep you moving toward your financial goals and stop you from spending money on things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t like.

15. Read a personal finance book. When you learn about personal finance, you’ll learn even more strategies to help you save money for your goals in life. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more you can save.

16. Get creative with gifts. Find creative ways to express your love to friends and family members with free, lower-cost or handmade birthday and holiday gifts. After all, a handwritten note explaining why you love someone can be more sentimental than some expensive gift he or she may never even use. Most people will appreciate the thought behind your gifts more than anything, so don’t be afraid to save money and find free ways to celebrate birthdays and holidays.

17. Balance your “FOMO/YOLO” mind-set. With social media controlling our lives like never before, people often fall victim to the “fear of missing out” phenomenon and instead go overboard with a “you only live once” mentality.

While it is important to live in the present and soak up each precious moment of life, make sure you balance that out by saving for your financial future, too. Without checks and balances in place, you can find yourself saying yes to everything and spending more money than you have—all due to the fear of missing out.

18. Map out your financial goals. Be very specific with your financial goals. For example, saying, “I want to save for a home down payment” is not enough. You need to map out how much you need, by when and what you need to save every month in order to reach the goal. When you know what your targets are, you’re more likely to stay the course and continue saving for them for the long term.

19. Track your progress. Americans save only 5.5 percent of their money compared to the 20 percent that personal finance indicates you should put away. But instead of feeling ashamed about your lack of savings, just start by saving something.

Even 1 percent is better than nothing. Track your progress and continue to increase the number year after year. Step by step, day by day, you can get to that 20 percent savings level.

The truth is, there are many ways to save money. Find the ways that work for you, and slowly start incorporating the strategies into your life.

20. Keep your eye on the prize. Staying focused on your goals takes discipline and determination. Saving can be easy and exciting at first, but after a while you may lose that initial motivation and start to find other things you can spend that money on. To avoid veering off course, check in with your goals regularly and keep your eye on the prize.

Six Ways To Teach Your Kids About Saving Money

Saving money is one of the most important aspects of building wealth and having a secure financial foundation.  Yet many of us have learned the importance of saving money through trial and error, and more importantly, experience.

In school, we aren’t really taught about the importance of saving and many of us find that as adults, we have to fend for ourselves.

But there are ways to empower the next generation, and that starts by teaching children the importance of saving from a young age.  If you are a parent, here are 6 ways to teach your children about saving money.


When your kids really want the latest and greatest toy or a new action figure, let them know they will have to save up for it.  Give them a jar for each of their desired purchases and offer them a small allowance each week in a denomination that encourages savings.

For example, if you give your child five dollars a week, give it to them in one dollar bills.  They can save all their cash for one purchase, or they can contribute to different “jars” for various savings goals.

To encourage saving up for their short-term goals, put a picture of their desired toy or item on the jar, so they have a visual reminder of what they are working towards.


A piggy bank can be a great way to teach your kids the importance of saving, while giving them an easy way to do it.  Tell your kids that the goal is to fill up the piggy bank with dollars and coins, until there is no room.  Illustrate that the piggy bank is for saving money for the future and that the more they save, the more their money will grow.


Once the piggy bank is full, take your child to the bank to open up a savings account for them.  Have them count how much money is going to be deposited, so they can have a physical understanding of how much money they have.  Show them the final number and reinforce the idea of interest.

It can provide a great source of motivation for your kids if they understand that their money will grow over time as long as they don’t touch it.


Children learn by example, so the best way to teach your child about saving money is to save money yourself.  Have your own jar of money that you put funds in regularly.  When you’re out shopping, show your children how to discern between various prices and explain why buying one item makes better sense than another.

Reiterate the message that every time you get paid, you save a portion of your check to help prepare for the future.

Teach your kids about why and how you are saving for their college education.


One of the most important things you can do is to start a conversation about money and the importance of saving. Money doesn’t have to be scary or a taboo.  Use financial discussions as teachable moments. An innocent question such as “Are we rich?” can be answered in a way that emphasizes family values, such as hard work and responsible spending.

Let your children know they can have an allowance, but it’s up to them to save up for things they really want.  In addition, illustrate how much their money can grow over time if they save.

Also discuss the difference between needs and wants and tell your children you are always open to talking about money and new ways to save.  Ask them about what they want to save up for.  Ask them what they want their future to look like.

Asking good questions can get them to think long-term and have a positive relationship with money.  Letting them know you’re always open to have a conversation about money can encourage them to ask questions of their own to keep learning.  The graphic below from the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy can provide you with learning benchmarks based on your child’s age.

Teaching kids how to save money may seem like a tough task.  It has even been said that parents are more likely to talk to their children about sex than about money.  But using these tips, you can make your child’s understanding of money fun and accessible.  It’s an investment in knowledge which truly pays the best interest.


As a kid, the concepts of money and time can be hard to grasp. Research has shown that the impact of a one hour financial lesson wears off after about five months. In order to make the message stick, money education should be timely and ongoing.  If you know your child receives a $50 check for their birthday each year, the moment to talk about budgeting is right before receiving that check.

One way to keep money lessons ongoing is to create a timeline so that your child can visualize when they will reach their goal.

Let’s say you give them five dollars a week and they want to save up fifty dollars.  If they saved one hundred percent of their allowance, they’d reach their goal in ten weeks, or roughly three months.

Start by getting a long piece of paper and a marker.  Have $0 on one side and $50 (or whatever goal amount) on the other side.  Create checkpoints on the paper for when they reach 25%, 50% and 75% of their goal.

Every time an amount is saved, draw a line illustrating how much was saved.  Let your kids know that they will get small rewards at each checkpoint. Small rewards can encourage kids to keep going.  Visuals are also helpful in illustrating their savings goals and how their money is growing.

How to Save Money for Your Kids

Start your kids off right in life by putting money away in strategic savings accounts.

Whether you want to teach your child smart money-management strategies, help them pay for college or set them up for financial success as adults, it’s important to jump-start saving for kids early on. However, it’s critical to use the right account.

“A lot of parents view their home equity as a savings account,” says Jon Brodsky, CEO, USA of, a personal finance comparison website. “The problem with that is you don’t know if you’ll have access to that money.” If the housing market or economy fluctuates, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to sell your home or refinance to tap into its equity. Fortunately, you can secure long-term savings for your kids with a few strategic methods and accounts.

Here’s how to save money for your kids:

Open a Coverdell Education Savings Account

Similar to 529 plans, Coverdell education savings accounts allow parents to set aside money for education expenses, including both college and private tuition for grades K-12. Contributions to a Coverdell account are limited to $2,000 per year and are not tax deductible. However, withdrawals for qualified expenses are tax-exempt.

Prior to the creation of 529 plans, Coverdell accounts were one of the best ways to save for a child’s college expenses. However, they have since fallen out of favor.

“My advice is: Why not use a 529 plan?” Mahaney says. A 529 plan doesn’t specify a contribution limit and may offer a state tax deduction, which are key benefits a Coverdell education savings account doesn’t offer.

Create a Children’s Savings Account

Most banks and credit unions offer children’s savings accounts which parents can co-own. These accounts can help children develop the habit of saving, rather than spending, all their money.

“The whole teaching aspect of it is huge,” says Sarah Hussain, a product manager at Alliant Credit Union. Parents can set up recurring allowance transfers and children can take an active role in managing their money while earning some interest as well. At Alliant Credit Union, for instance, dividends are paid out on Kids Savings Accounts once the balance reaches $100.

As children age, they may be moved into teen checking accounts and issued a debit card. “The teen Visa debit card (for teen checking accounts) has lower spending and withdrawal limits,” Hussain notes. Parents remain co-owners of teen accounts to help them oversee and assist with money management as needed.

Open a Custodial Account

A custodial account may be best for those who want to save money for their children but don’t want them to have access to the cash until they are adults. The money is held in the child’s name, but “you deposit the money,” Brodsky explains. “You manage the account.”

Custodial accounts may be set up at banks such as Bank of America or brokerage firms like Schwab and Franklin Templeton. They are governed by the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. The accounts allow children to own securities or other assets that may otherwise be off-limits for them.

While custodial accounts don’t provide the same tax benefits as other college savings vehicles, they may be a good choice for parents who aren’t sure their child will go to college or who want to provide a financial gift upon adulthood. Once a child reaches the age of majority as governed by their state, money from a custodial account is transferred to him or her.

Leverage a 529 College Savings or Prepaid Tuition Plan

When it comes to college savings, no account may be more valuable or more underutilized. “I’m shocked by the little use of 529 plans,” says James Mahaney, vice president, strategic initiatives for the financial firm Prudential.

Only 44% of parents with children ages 8 to 14 years old are using 529 plans, according to the 2018 Parents, Kids & Money Survey from financial firm T. Rowe Price. That’s despite the fact that 529 plans are widely considered the best savings vehicle for college expenses.

There are two types of 529 plans. One is a general college savings plan that allows parents to put money aside into an account that can be used at any school, including private K-12 institutions. Some states provide a tax deduction for contributions to their state’s 529 plan, and withdrawals used for qualified education expenses are exempt from federal income tax.

The other option is a prepaid tuition plan that locks in current tuition rates for public institutions. While the ability to lock in tuition rates is a valuable benefit, the college savings option offers more flexibility and may be a better choice for most families, according to Brodsky.

Open a Health Savings Account

If you have adult children who are covered by your high-deductible health insurance plan, a health savings account is another option to consider. “It’s the only triple tax-free savings tool in America today,” says Shobin Uralil, co-founder and COO of Lively, an online health savings account provider.

Those with a qualified high-deductible family health insurance plan can contribute up to $7,000 in 2019 to a health savings account. This money is tax deductible, grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free for qualified medical expenses. At age 65, money can be withdrawn for any reason and only be subject to regular income tax, the same as a traditional 401(k) or IRA.

While a married couple can only open one health savings account, each adult child covered by a family plan can open their own account and anyone can make contributions totaling up to $7,000. While there are limitations to the use of this money, having an account dedicated to health care costs can help smooth your child’s transition into adulthood. “The best time to fund your HSA is when you don’t need the money,” Uralil says.

Set Aside Money in a Trust Fund

Though not as common, a trust fund is another way to save money for children. “Most of us don’t have access to (one) because most of us are not that wealthy,” Brodsky says.

A trust fund can be set up with any amount of money, but it usually doesn’t make sense unless you have a large amount of cash to deposit into it. An attorney needs to draw up the trust documents, and someone must be appointed to manage the money. Still, for wealthy families, a trust fund offers more control over disbursements, protects cash from creditors and ensures a child’s assets aren’t split during a divorce.

Use Your Roth IRA

Dipping into retirement savings for your kids’ college tuition may not sound like a smart plan, but finance experts say there is no reason you can’t use a Roth IRA to cover education expenses. “Money needs to be saved for college and retirement anyway,” Mahaney says. Comingling the funds is OK as long as it’s done with proper planning.

A Roth IRA allows people to save after-tax dollars for retirement. In 2019, workers younger than age 50 can save up to $6,000 while those age 50 and older can contribute $7,000. Money withdrawn after age 59 ½ is tax-free, and the principal amount can be taken out at any time without tax or penalty. However, withdrawing any gains prior to age 59 ½ results in a 10% tax penalty. Depending on your age, you could use some or all of the money placed into a Roth IRA for your child’s college education or other expenses. If you plan to deplete the account, make sure you have another source of retirement savings, like a 401(k).

There are income limits for those who want to contribute to a Roth IRA, but Mahaney says high-earning households can use a backdoor Roth IRA strategy to access these accounts. In 2019, the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA begins to phase out for married couples, filing jointly at incomes of $193,000. To get around this limit, they can make a non-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA and then convert to a Roth IRA.

How to Save for a Down Payment on a House

When buying a house, offering a big down payment can save you a lot of money in the long run. Here’s how to save for a down payment the smart way.

Even if you don’t plan to buy a house for several years, you’ve probably started thinking about how to save for a down payment. Unlike saving for retirement, where the funds you stash away likely won’t be accessed for many more years, a down payment is a large sum of money that you’ll need to access soon.

This means slowly setting aside small amounts and investing them in the stock market just won’t work.

In these seven steps, we’ll cover how to start saving for the biggest purchase you’ll likely every make, and how to do it in the smartest way possible.

Step 1: Find the best way to save for your down payment

As a rule, since the money that you are saving for the down payment on a house has a definite purpose, and needs to be reached within a specific timeframe, you should not save money in risk-type investment vehicles (stocks, realestate investment trusts, ests.) Instead, you should save your money in super-safe vehicles like a boring old savings account or a certificate of deposit.

Sure, you may be able to earn more money by investing your down payment account in higher risk vehicles, but there is also the very real risk that you will lose money in the process.

Remember, if you’re saving for a house, the worst-case scenario would not be missing out on returns, it would be losing some of the money you needed to buy your home.

Step 2: Figure out how much you’ll need to save

Before you begin saving a down payment for a house, you first have to know how much you’ll need to save. Plan to sit down with a mortgage lender who will let you know how much of a mortgage you can qualify for.

Generally speaking, your housing expense should not exceed 28 percent of your stable monthly income. So if your income is $5,000, you can safely allocate $1,400 of that ($5,000 x .28) to your future house payment.

The $1,400 will include mortgage principal and interest, real estate taxes, private mortgage insurance (PMI), homeowners insurance, and homeowners association (HOA) dues, if any.

With mortgage rates at about 4.5 percent, this will translate into a mortgage loan amount of about $177,500.

To arrive at the amount that you can afford to pay for a house, you’ll have to add the down payment on top of that. In today’s tight lending market, you should generally expect to make a 20 percent down payment on a house. No, that’s not a requirement–it’s just the minimum down payment to get the best-priced deals.

You can certainly put down less, but you will likely be paying a higher rate and, if you have any kind of credit issues, you may not be able to get a mortgage at all.

So taking our example of a mortgage for $177,500, and making a provision for a 20 percent down payment, we can calculate the actual dollar amount this way:

$177,500 divided by .80 = $221,875, minus the $177,500 mortgage loan = $44,375, or rounded up, $45,000

Rounding the numbers up, you’ll be purchasing a house for $222,000, with a $177,500 mortgage, and a down payment of about $45,000.

Don’t get hung up on those calculations– a mortgage lender can perform the same calculations for you based on your own financial circumstances. We’ve done this for illustration purposes only, and so that we can carry that $45,000 number forward for more calculations.

Step 3: Determine your timeframe

The next step is to determine your timeframe. If you plan on purchasing a home in five years, you’ll have to be prepared to save $9,000 per year ($45,000 divided by five years).

Naturally, the shorter your timeframe is, the higher your annual savings goal will be.

Step 4: Make room in your budget

Since we’re talking about saving thousands of dollars per year, you have to clear some room in your budget to make sure that your savings goal is doable. That means you may have to earn additional income, cut back on expenses, or both.

But, making room in your budget can help you save the kind of money you’ll need for your down payment, and it will also prepare you for managing the type of tighter budget that homeownership requires. Embrace it for all it’s worth!

Step 5: Bank those windfalls

You can make the process of saving money for a down payment on a house easier—or even shorten the process—by banking periodic windfalls. These can include income-tax refunds, gifts received, bonuses or large commission checks, or even the sale of personal assets.

By depositing these funds into your down payment savings account, you fast-forward the process of saving money to buy your future home. Regularly depositing a few thousand dollars per year in windfalls can chop a couple of years off of your savings timeframe.

Step 6: Build flexibility into your savings plan

Whatever the size of your down payment, it is important to build flexibility into your savings plan.

While you’re saving up money, there’ll be other demands on your finances. These can include major car repairs, replacement of a car, uncovered medical expenses, or even the temporary loss of a job. None of these will magically stop just because you have a goal of saving money for a down payment on a house. You’ll have to be ready when they happen.

Make sure that you have an emergency fund—before you even start saving for your down payment—and keep it well-stocked. And if you have predictable expenses, such as replacing your car, you’ll need to simultaneously prepare for that expense as well.

Step 7: Set up an automated savings plan

Unless you’re a saver by nature, and most of us aren’t really, you’ll need to automate the savings process. That will mean some sort of payroll savings plan. Just like your 401(k) plan, you should allocate a certain percentage or dollar amount of your regular pay to go directly into a savings account or money market account dedicated to accumulating the funds for your down payment.

Not only does this make the process automatic, but it also makes it invisible. Money moves from your paycheck to your dedicated savings account without you even seeing it happen. That will remove both the temptation and ability to spend the money on other purposes.


Buying a home can be a long process that requires a good chunk of your savings, but think of it all as preparation for homeownership. You’ll have all of those expenses after you buy your home too, but you’ll also have large expenses related to the home itself. So think of this as a dry run to prepare both your finances and your psyche for the extra expenses that homeownership brings.

5 Steps for Saving for a House

If you’re saving for a house, here are simple, straightforward steps to get you started.

When my husband and I got married, we had big dreams of owning our own house one day. But with $45,000 in debt and my husband making only slightly more than minimum wage, we knew we were going to have to put our dreams on hold.

We created a five-year plan with the intention that we would pay off our debt, save enough for a down payment, and own a home within five years of getting married. Living in Southern California, there were many times we thought we would never be able to afford a house, especially when the market rebounded quickly in 2013.

Our five-year plan seemed laughable at times. Every financial setback seemed to pull us away from our goal. But we kept at it. We kept working hard, and eventually we paid off our debt and saved enough money for a down payment. We bought our house in November with a $55,000 down payment and in April celebrated five years of marriage — totally meeting our five-year plan goal!

If you find yourself in a similar situation and are wondering how you can save up for a house too, here are five steps for saving for a house.


If you’re trying to figure out how and where to save money if you already feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck, start by reducing your expenses 10% across the board. That means if your grocery budget is $500 a month, try reducing it $50 for a total budget of $450. That’s not a huge difference, but the money will add up when you apply this technique to all your expenses. And soon enough you’ll have enough money saved for that down payment. Just remember to give yourself time to save enough money — it’s a marathon, not a sprint.


Prior to even looking at homes, decide what amount you can comfortably afford. What the bank may say you can afford might be drastically different from what you can actually afford. Calculate your total home costs, including mortgage, property taxes and home insurance, which can often add several hundred dollars to your total mortgage.

By figuring out how much house you can afford, you can then decide how much you need for your down payment. Ideally, a 20% down payment is best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, which can easily add hundreds of dollars to your mortgage. However, if you live in a higher cost of living area like we do and have a solid credit score (700 or better), you can most likely still qualify for good mortgage loans with at least a 10% down payment.


For almost a year before we bought a house, we started living as if we were already paying that new mortgage. This means that in addition to your rent, put the difference between your rent and assumed future mortgage payment into your savings account and treat it as you would any other monthly bill. This habit will get you used to the idea of paying a bigger mortgage and the bonus side is that you’ll also be saving toward your house.


The general rule of thumb is that your housing costs should never exceed a third of your total income. However, if you have other debts, such as a car loan, student loans or credit cards, they could easily limit the amount of money you can put toward a mortgage. Consider paying down some of your debt first, which will not only help alleviate some of the financial pressure but also help you secure a better mortgage rate.

While it may sound counterintuitive to pay down debt in order to save, once those debts are paid off, you could have hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars freed up that can help you save faster.


Many people wait until the end of the month to see how much money they have left over before putting any money into a savings account. This is the absolute worst way to go about it because most of the time, you’ll find you don’t have any money left over. If you want to get serious about saving, you need to calculate how much money you can put into savings first. It might take some getting used to, but once you start putting the money away, you start to adapt to it.

If you’re tempted to dip into your savings account, keep your savings account in a different bank from your checking account. We actually use an online bank for our savings account — just to diffuse some of that temptation — and many of them have better interest rates than conventional banks.


The Easiest Tips & Tricks to Save Money

There are countless ways to save money every month, so no list is going to be exhaustive. That being said, here’s a list of the best ways to save money each month. If you have more ideas, we’ll happily add them to the list.

  • Save money when you buy with a rebate app like Ibotta. Ibotta works at over 300 retailers, not to mention your local grocery store, and you can redeem funds once you hit a $20 balance. Shopkick is another excellent app that let you save money at the store. Check out our guide on the other best cash back shopping apps to find a good option for you.
  • Save your raise.
  • Save your spare change in a change jar – include $1 and/or $5 bills as well. You can do the same thing digitally with CIT Bank – as they have a $100 minimum balance requirement and you can earn 1.80 percent if you choose a money market. If you automate it, then it’s done for you without any effort on your part.
  • Take your lunch to work.
  • Avoid out of network ATM fees. The average out of network ATM charges nearly $5 per transaction, according to CNBC. It doesn’t make sense to pay money to access your money.
  • Start a garden and can or freeze the produce.
  • Get free Amazon gift cards by taking surveys with Pinecone Research. If you regularly buy items from Amazon free gift cards can be a great way to save money. Pinecone Research lets you redeem for cash, Amazon gift cards, and more. Taking surveys won’t make you rich, but they can be a great way to monetize your free time by helping you save money.
  • Take Uber as opposed to a taxi. In most instances, one or both can be the cheaper option.
  • Ditch the whole life or permanent life insurance. You can save significant money by switching to term life coverage. If you don’t know where to start, try PolicyGenius to find the best options available.
  • Don’t play the lottery. The average person spends $25 per month on the lottery.
  • Refinance your house to get a lower interest rate. Compare rates at LendingTree to get the best possible rate.
  • Bring snacks to work so you’re not tempted to go to the vending machine.
  • Find cheaper auto insurance. Nearly 40 percent of drivers haven’t compared rates in three years. If that’s you then you might be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table each year. Compare rates at Esurance to see how much you might be able to save.
  • Consolidate or refinance your student loans. Not only does this make repayment simpler as you have only one monthly payment to manage, but it also lets you pay them off quicker through the reduced rate. Check rates at Credible to see how much money you can save on student loan payments.
  • Buy used when you can, especially clothes. Find the best consignment shops around you and shop at them to save money.
  • Break out of the bundle pricing offered by cable companies. Here’s how to get internet without cable and save more money each month.
  • Don’t buy extended warranties.
  • Use your unused gift cards. $1 billion in gift cards go unused each year, according to Marketwatch. You can use them to buy something you need, sell them or use them to buy a gift for someone. If you like to use gift cards, you can buy used gift cards at Raise at a discount.
  • Get rid of unused memberships or subscriptions with Trim. Trim is a free to use app that analyzes and find subscriptions you don’t use and cancels them to save you money.
  • Buy a programmable thermostat to save on energy bills. We work from home so don’t have much need for this. Assuming that’s not the case for you, this lets you save money every month on your energy bills.
  • Negotiate doctor’s bills. We ask every time we go to the doctor or dentist. We commonly get a reduced rate by offering to pay up front.
  • Go to the library. The library offers many ways to save money every month from books and movies to a lot more.
  • Consolidate your debt through Even Financial, to reduce the monthly interest you’re paying and they allow you to compare up to 17 lenders at once. If it’s credit card debt you have, get a balance transfer credit card to lower your rate to 0 percent and kill the debt.


There are many ways to save money every month; you just have to put some into action. Like I said in the beginning, you won’t be able to do all of them, but even a few of them will help you save several hundred dollars per month – that’s life-changing kind of money.

Simple Ways to Save Money Every Month

I love to find ways to save money every month as it means we have more of our money to apply towards our goals. Finding ways to save money each month gives you the power to reach any number of goals, such as:

  • Paying off debt
  • Going on vacation
  • Saving for retirement
  • Saving for a house, car, or other large expense

The struggle many people have is staying motivated to save money. It’s easy to think that saving an extra $2o or $30 per month won’t matter, and before you know it, you don’t have the funds you need to do something you want.

If you need motivation to save more money, or simply don’t know how to save money on a monthly basis, know that it is possible. In fact, you can save money easily with very little effort.

When you save money each month you help yourself financially. It allows you to accomplish numerous goals. When you combine it with making extra money, you instantly multiply your progress.


Do you want to save more money this year, but don’t know where to start? This post is for you. Not each option on the below list will apply to everyone – and that’s fine. However, it’s possible to take a small handful of the options here and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars this year alone.

If you’re looking for the best ways to save money every month, combine some of the below tips to put your savings game on the fast track.


If you want to know how to save money fast, one of the best options is through the 52-week challenge. If you’ve not heard of the 52-week challenge, it’s simple. You start out week 1 by saving $1. Week 2 you save $2, week 3 you save $3 and so on.

The plan is to add one extra dollar per week until you put away $52 the final week of the year. This alone will allow you to save $1,378 per year. Even if you don’t start at the beginning of the year you can harness a lot of power by making stashing money away in savings a regular habit.

Make it easy on yourself and automate the transfer so you don’t even feel it. You can do that with Chime Bank as they operate entirely online. The fee-free bank pays just .01 percent interest on your cash, but their checking account pays .10 percent plus rounds up each transaction to the nearest dollar and places it in your savings account.

Total savings = ~ $1,400


Cutting cable is the easiest way to save money every month. I’ve written about how we canceled DirecTV and are now saving almost $90 per month. The average cable bill is over $110 per month.

There is no reason to spend this much to get television content as there are so many cheaper options available.

We use our Amazon Fire TV Stick and Netflix to get the shows we want. Check out the Amazon Fire TV Stick channels list to see what kind of content you can expect with the dongle.

There are many other options from Hulu with Live TV to getting a digital antenna, that it just makes no sense to have a cable bill.

If you don’t know how to watch ESPN without cable, have no fear. Most of the streaming providers make it possible without a nasty contract. Losing sports was what held us back from cutting the cord. It’s relatively simple to replace it with a streaming service.

Total savings = $80+ per month


Should you keep your gym membership if you want to lose weight? In a word – NO! According to Statistic Brain, $40 per month is wasted on the cost of the average gym membership.

You can lose weight without paying to join a high-priced gym. I lost 100 pounds on Nutrisystem and didn’t step foot in a gym. I walked and used free videos on YouTube. I’m proof it can be done without paying a lot of money to exercise.


Like cutting the cord, this is another one of the best ways to save money each month. The average cell phone bill for Verizon and AT&T is almost $150. There is no need to spend that much every month.

We switched to a cheap cell phone plan and now save over $100 per month. You can get a plan with Tello for as low as $5 per month. You can customize your plan based on your specific needs and situation.

Total savings = $100+ per month


I almost can’t believe this number, but the average person spends $190 per month (assuming a pack a day habit) on cigarettes. I’ve never been a smoker, but I just don’t see the appeal.

Not only is cutting smoking one of the best ways save money every month, but it will also help you save significant money in the long-term on medical bills by improving your health. That’s a win-win.

Total savings = $190 per month

20 Tips on How to Save Money to Travel

The hardest part about a RTW trip is figuring out the money.
It’s a huge mountain to climb, but it’s not impossible. The following are 20 tips on how to save money for your upcoming around the world trip.

First things first, though: you need to figure out how much you actually need to save. How much will it cost you to go around the world?
Just remember, whatever your around-the-world travel budget is, it’s best to have a plan in place!

Start a dedicated travel fund

Create a new account with your bank called “I’m Outta Here” and feed it monthly, weekly, or daily. Make it easy to transfer money over from another account and every time you go online to check your balance, transfer some money, even if it’s just $5. Make it fun. Make it a habit. Make it natural. Make it painless. Revel in its growth!

Create a savings plan. A good savings plan will have 5 steps:

  • Assessment – Compare your trip plan to the reality of your financial situation. Is it feasible, or are you dreaming too big? Make hard decisions. Be honest. Once you’ve got a general idea of your trip’s overall cost, compile a spreadsheet that lists your income vs. your expenses to see how everything stacks up.
  • Setting goals – Your savings plan should comprise several goals, some short-term and some long-term. List your goals in specific numbers and don’t be shy to shoot high. But, not so high it kills your enthusiasm for your big trip (people have traveled around the world on nothing!).
  • Creating a plan – This savings plan details how you’ll accomplish your goals. This could done by removing unnecessary expenses (see below!), setting a strict spending budget, or adding additional income to meet your goals.
  • Implementation – Put your plan in motion and maintain it.
  • Monitoring and reassessment – As time passes, your plan will evolve as your spending habits change. Take a look at your progress every month and scrutinize the budget for possible adjustments.

Commit to your dream

The first of our tips for saving money (for travel) is to remember why you’re doing this and to remind yourself every day. Put a picture on your wall, or a map with pins and strings to mark your dream around the world trip route, for constant revalidation. Saving money is a slog, but anyone can do it if they set their mind to it.

  • Reduce your expenditures.
  • Simplify your life.
  • Sell some stuff.
  • Earn some extra income.
  • Get into habits of frugality (save without shame!).

Assess your expenditures

Make a spreadsheet and list out every one of your daily/monthly expenditures. Organize them into two columns: “Needs” and “Wants“. Slowly eliminate all the “wants” from the things you regularly purchase.

Spend less on lunch

It may be as simple as not getting a $2.50 drink (tap water is highly underrated as a beverage!) but make a point of spending less than $8 on your lunch. Those savings will add up. Say you go out to eat five times a week. Just trimming your lunch cost from $12 to $8 saves you $832 a year! For even more savings, pack a lunch if you’re able.

Eat out less often

Restaurants put more holes in a saving plan than a woodpecker on amphetamines. Plus, learning how to cook for yourself is ridiculously gratifying. The Food Network and have a near limitless repository of delicious recipes to start you off. Even in the United States, you can comfortably eat on $40 to 50 a week cooking for yourself. Simple unprocessed foods like rice, beans, chicken, pasta, potatoes, and vegetables are healthy and cheap.

Reduce or eliminate your car usage

In the United States, it’s almost impossible to live without a car unless you live in the largest cities or really enjoy long-distance biking. Our distances are just too far apart, and we don’t have extensive public transportation! The easiest way to reduce your car usage is to sell it, but that’s only feasible if you’re about to leave on a long-term trip, or happen to live in New York City. Uber and Lyft are great options for daily car sharing if you need to go long distances. But even if you can’t totally live without a car, bike and walk more and shop as close to home as you can. Every little bit helps!

Kill the cable TV dead

You’ll be surprised how fast your savings add up when you ditch cable TV. Several friends of mine pay up to $150 a month for their cable. That’s insane, it adds up to $1,800 a year. Even a more reasonable rate of $99 (the average monthly cost of cable TV in the United States, as of 2016) still ends up being $1,188. That could fund an entire trip to lots of places in the world! Besides, there are plenty of free and cheap ways to get your entertainment. Netflix is $10 a month. Books are cheaper than movies.

Reduce your utility bills

Put a sweatshirt on and keep the heat on low. Open the windows to catch a breeze instead of using the air conditioner. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Shorten your showers. Some areas of the country have more moderate temperatures than others, but even a few bucks a month pile up in your travel savings account. The average utility bill in the US ranges from $90 to $140 a month. If you can trim 15% off by being more efficient, doing fewer loads of laundry, and conserving energy, you could add around $225 to your savings, annually.

Quit smoking

This one’s a no-brainer. Not only can stopping smoking save you $2000 in a year, it can save your life! Can’t do it on your own? Get someone you know to help you keep accountable.

Cancel your gym membership

Instead of that hefty gym membership, exercise in the great outdoors, run in the fresh air. Swallow your pride and utilize those strange public fitness things in the park. The world is a cardio machine. Watch the calories burned outside turn into greenbacks in your bank account!

Skip the spa

Luxury feels so good, but spas are a serious expense. Massages, peels, and mani-pedis will cost you your hard-earned cash, and they certainly won’t help you get on the road any sooner. Skip out on the short-term luxury of self-pampering and save more the life-changing luxury of long-term travel.

Get fewer haircuts

If you get a haircut or cut and colored once every two months as opposed to once every month, you’ll save 50% and probably still look just fine. Considering the cost of hair care, over the course of a year this could really add up. Of course, stick to a simple style that a friend can trim for you for free, and you’ve got 100% savings.

Cut back on fancy coffee drinks

Eliminating coffee from your life just might be impossible, and coffeeshops are an essential place for many people to socialize, study, and work at, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on caffeine! Think drip coffee instead of that ultra mocha grande with extra espresso shots. Paying $2 instead of $5 every day could save you $1,095 a year!
Check out this cool coffee cost calculator and see what that caffeine is costing you!

Buy second-hand clothing

New clothes are expensive and passé! Thrift stores and vintage/second-hand clothing shops are the new cool. You can usually save the greater part of 75% over their new counterparts and still look cute. When you need to dress well for business or formal occasions, scope out the bargain/reduced racks or shop online rather than in the full-price sections at expensive brick & mortar stores.

Stay in at night

Going out to bars and clubs will force your account balance to go down faster than a Swiss cheese boat…with only a headache to show for it in the morning. Keep your travel goals in mind and invite your friends over for drinks. That $8 bottle of wine would’ve cost $25 at the bar!

Do Free Things

  • Get University educated – The website Open Culture has assembled a giant master list of free online courses on everything from Art History to Quantum Mechanics from great schools like Stanford, UC Berkely, and even Oxford!
  • Get non-university educated at Khan Academy or Tedtalks.
  • Check out  the online repository of videos of academic courses at Ivy League schools like Yale, Harvard and Stanford at Academic Earth. The only thing it doesn’t have is Skull & Bones.
  • Learn to code – hello Codecademy!
  • Volunteer for a local charity.
  • Play sports: you know, cycling, tennis, basketball, soccer, etc. Find recreational teams in your area.

Bonus tip for saving money: keep your distance from financially irresponsible people!

Watching your friends go out every night to buy expensive electronics, pricey cocktails, and new boots will destroy all your hard-won motivation. So just don’t. But don’t let your dogged determination to save for vacation make you into your friend group’s party pooper: you can save for travel, and still let loose every once in a while.

But don’t let your dogged determination to save for vacation make you into a party pooper, either: you can save for travel, and still let loose  every once in a while.