We all work hard for our money, but does our money work hard for us? The answer to that question breaks down the difference between investing and saving. Saving is all about putting money aside. You’ll know at any given moment just how much cash you have in that nest egg. Investing is more of a long-term plan for earning. The amount of your money’s worth can fluctuate from day to day. It might come down to the issue of risk.
Do you want to put your money at risk with the potential of reward or do you want to play it safe? Before you decide what to do with your money, consider some of these facts:
Saving money has many perks, but you need to do it right. Here are a few facts that you can use to save smartly.
The best approach to saving money is to pay yourself first. Even a small amount set aside from every paycheck will have a positive impact on your savings account. It all comes down to discipline. Yes, there might be weeks that you could use that extra $25 that you deposit into your savings, but try to make the deposit first as part of that weekly routine. Then think about the withdraw.
You’ll find plenty of politicians who claim the only way to save is to cut. There is a grain of truth in that. When it comes to your own household budget, you have to live within your means in order to have the money to set aside for savings. That could mean cutting your daily trip to Starbucks to once or twice a week instead. Perhaps you can eat in more to bring down your monthly food costs. The little sacrifices you make today can result in a big benefit down the road when you really need to use those savings.
If you happen to work for a company that matches your 401(k) savings, then it is in your best interest to funnel as much money into that account as possible. You’re basically going to get a bunch of free money from your company. That could translate into thousands of extra dollars each year. Are you really going to leave that kind of money on the table?
The employee matching of your retirement savings is a way to earn with that money. There are other options as well, such as money market accounts or certificates of deposit. With these types of saving accounts, you’re still putting your money aside but you’re locking it down and letting it earn interest. You’ll find that most of these savings accounts can provide better rates than the plain bank savings account.
Most banks allow you to set up a savings withdraw from your checking account. You can set up a specific amount to come out weekly or monthly. Those savings will start growing and you won’t have to lift a finger.
Deciding to invest your money can be scary, but a lot of that fear factor diminishes with just a bit of knowledge.
A popular form of investment is a diverse stock portfolio. A stock is an ownership share in a company. The more stocks you own, the greater your stake. The goal of every publicly held company is to pay its shareholders’ dividends. Those are based on how much profit is generated by the company. Of all the possible investments you can make, stocks are the most volatile. Your fortunes rise and fall with the company.
Another form of investment would be on a currency exchange. This is where you would be investing in one currency while selling in another. That means your trades are happening in pairs. As with the stock market, you can track the currency rates throughout the day to see how your investments are doing.
Investing in a bond is like loaning the government money. A city can issue bonds to build a stadium or schools. That loan is repaid with interest over a fixed period of time. Bonds are thought of as secure investments. In other words, you know just what you’re getting and when you’ll get it.
When you enter into any type of investment, you’ll be paying to make that investment. This will be a service or brokerage fee given to the person or entity that is trading on your behalf. These fees can vary between firms and are often small percentage points. Still, it is money taken off the top of what you put in. It doesn’t matter if your investment suffers a loss. You’ll still pay those fees.
Just like building a house, you have to take into account how taxes will affect your investment. The more you invest in a home and in an investment, the more you will typically have to pay in taxes. Suppose you invest $10,000 in the stock market and after five years, you have earned $30,000. Nice work. Of course, that is how much you’re worth on paper. To actually get that money, you have to sell those stocks. Once that happens, you are creating a capital gain. That is something that will be taxed by the IRS. Bottom line: The more you earn and take out as cash from your investments, the more you’ll have to pay in taxes.
Many folks opt for a balanced financial portfolio that has both savings and diverse investments, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. It also helps to have a plan in mind for your money. Are you building your retirement nest egg? Saving for a house? As with most things in life, it helps to keep your eye on the goal.
Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author – and, since we are critically-thinking human beings, these views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time. Please do not hold us to them in perpetuity.
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