PAYING YOURSELF FIRSTAnyone who has ever managed their own finances knows that saving can be a challenge. There are always expenses that demand a piece of each month’s paycheck. However, when you “pay yourself first” you prioritize your future first. Through automatic savings from each paycheck you prioritize your long-term financial wellbeing and can see your net worth increase steadily. Using this way to save becomes more of a long-term commitment than a short-term challenge: the sooner you start, the longer your savings may have to grow.
PUTTING YOUR MONEY TO WORKWhat will you do with the money you save? This is the time of your life to start an emergency fund. Ideally it should have 3-6 months’ worth of income to cushion a job loss or unforeseen expense.
If retirement is your priority, consider taking advantage of tax-advantaged investments. Employer-sponsored retirement plans -- 401(k)s and 403(b)s -- can be a great way to save because the money comes out of your paycheck before you even see it. Plus, some employers offer to match a percentage of your contributions.
Maybe you’re thinking about buying a home in the future. For money you may want to access before retirement, consider moving some of your savings into investments that offer the potential for higher returns. Of course, this may mean exposing your money to more volatility, so you’ll want to choose vehicles that fit your risk tolerance, time horizon, and long-term goals.