5 Easter Eggs for Saving, According to a Financial Expert

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Saving money doesn’t have to be tough, but it’s understandable that on the surface it can seem difficult. In fact, a new survey from Intuit, makers of TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint, found that many Americans do not put money into a savings account (46%), set a budget (41%) or track their personal spending (33%). Yikes. We want to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you know better than to live paycheck to paycheck, but in case you need a refresher, we talked to financial expert Todd Kunsman—founder of Invested Wallet—to learn tips for supercharging your savings and getting onto the road of financial freedom.

1. Write Down a Simple Savings Plan

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“One mistake I think young people make when trying to save (myself included in the past) is not actually formulating and writing down a simple savings plan,” say Kunsman. “Too often we know what we should be doing, or we think we can do it on the fly, but that’s how savings habits fall through. For example, not having an idea of how much money you are bringing in and all of your expenses leaves room for you to miss areas where you could be saving more than you think. Writing it down helps keep you on track. Plus, you can always refer to it if you start to slip up in your savings goal. I’d recommend a simple spreadsheet that includes all this info.”

2. Use Tools to Help You Automate Savings

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Intuit’s Mint and Turbo products are great resources for saving. Mint can help you build a budget and stick to it. You can easily create budgets, and the app even gives you suggestions based on your spending. Even better, Mint gives you the ability to track your bills, including sending you alerts so you never miss a payment. You can also find out your credit score for free and get tips on improving it—no credit card required.

Turbo, on the other hand, gives you an overview of your credit and loan details, all in one place. There are personalized tips for your life goals and any other financial planning resources that you may need. What’s crazy is that according to Intuit, one in five Americans finds errors on their credit report. With Turbo (and Mint) you can take control of your financial future and make sure nothing is bringing down your score.

3. Pay Yourself First

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People typically overlook the simplicity of paying themselves. While this concept may seem obvious at first, it makes a huge difference when it comes to saving. “When you get paid or make money, add a percentage to your savings, retirement accounts, etc. before anything else,” says Kunsman. “Of course, you want to pay your bills or any debts on time, but what happens is you focus on those things first, then maybe spend a bit, and all of a sudden you are left with far less than you want to save. Reversing this helps you stick to a system of saving. You can manually do this, or if you think you don’t have the self-control yet, automate the process!”

4. Get a 401(k) ASAP

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A 401(k) is crucial to saving and ensuring that you have a retirement fund in the future. If you're young, it can be pretty hard to imagine a time when saving for retirement is essential, but Kunsman stresses, “If your company offers a 401(k) and company match, this should be your first choice.”

A percentage you set (make sure it’s enough to get the company match) is contributed before you see your paycheck and your company will match to a certain percent. That helps you grow your retirement faster. Additionally, a 401(k) has a higher limit of contribution, so if you can afford to, you can sock away a lot more than you can with an IRA or Roth IRA. However, if your company doesn’t have a 401(k), you can open your own IRA and contribute.”

5. Finally, If Nothing Else, Remember These 6 Bullets

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  • Cut back expenses
  • Break your consumer spending habits
  • Live below your means
  • Ignore what others have
  • Pay yourself first
  • Be patient