Being a millionaire isn’t everything. Despite the glamour of it all, having seven figures in your bank account isn’t the source of all happiness — and it definitely isn’t the only way to have a comfortable retirement.
So long as you put a few hundred dollars into a retirement account each month, you could retire with a cool million yourself (we did the math!). Currently being a millionaire? Not required.
Even if you’re not in your 20’s anymore, and you haven’t started saving for retirement, it’s not too late. Start now with these smart financial moves that can grow your wealth and have you retiring in style.
1. Make Smart, Strategic Investments
The stock market averages about 7% growth each year. And while it does have its ups and downs, over time, it tends to go up. Which is why investing is such an important part of building up a retirement fund.
The problem is that sometimes it feels like investing is only for the super rich, who own shares of the world’s biggest companies.
And if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.
But with an app called Stash, it doesn’t have to be. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1
It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2
Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*
2. Stop Overpaying Your Monthly Bills
Finding extra cash on the street each month would be an easy way to build up your retirement savings. But since the likelihood of that happening is pretty low, you need to go searching for that money yourself.
Start by looking at the bills you have to pay each month — are you spending more than you need to? If you haven’t looked for new car insurance in a few months, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars that would be better off in a savings account.
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
3. Grow Your Savings 16x Faster
Part of being prepared for retirement is having a good chunk of money available now, too. If you have a healthy savings account, you won’t have to worry about dipping into your retirement fund early (which can come with hefty fees!).
But you still want to make sure that money is going to grow, right? Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account won’t do you much better. (Ahem, 0.06% is nothing these days.)
But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Not too shabby!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
4. Invest in Real Estate (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire)
The stock market can be a scary place. Stock prices shoot up and down like a roller coaster ride, and who knows when the whole thing might crash?
It would be nice to diversify and invest some of your money in real estate, but don’t you have to be wealthy to do that?
Now you can invest like the 1% does, and all you need to get started is $500. A company called DiversyFund will invest your money in private real estate — specifically, in apartment buildings it co-owns with its investors — and you only need $500.
You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolio through their online dashboard — like a 54-unit apartment complex in Salt Lake City, Utah, or a 30-unit waterfront property in Stuart, Florida. And you don’t have to experience the headaches that come with being a landlord — DiversyFund does all the heavy lifting for you.
Real estate has historically been very stable compared to the stock market. Over the long term, investing in the stock market will earn you an average annual return of 7%, adjusted for inflation, according to a number of studies. DiversyFund can’t guarantee how its investments will perform in the future — no one can — but historically, real estate has outperformed the stock market for the past 30 years.
So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. All you need to get started is $500. Sign up here to start investing today.
5. Take Advantage of Your Employer’s Retirement Match
Setting aside money from your paycheck to put into your 401(k) is literally one of the smartest things you can do for your future. And if your employer matches each contribution, that could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in your account when you retire. It’s free money!
But if you can’t take advantage of this employer benefit because you need all of your paycheck every month, a company called Lendtable will give you the cash.
We know it sounds too good to be true. But if your employer has a 401(k) match program, this is money they already have earmarked for you. By using Lendtable, you’ll be able to unlock that free cash.
Let’s say you make $50k a year and your employer matches your 401(k) contribution up to 4%. If you put $0 in your retirement account this year, you get $0 from your boss. If Lendtable lends you the 4% of your salary your employer is willing to match, you get $2,000 from your boss, minus Lendtable’s fee. (This comes from the extra money you’ve earned, so there’s no sacrifice on your part.)
It takes three minutes to answer a few questions about your eligibility and sign up for an account.
Once you’ve gotten your full match amount from your employer, LendTable will take the money they lent you back, plus a small share of your profit. If there’s a penalty from your retirement account provider for taking money out, Lendtable will cover that, too.
The risk for you is basically nonexistent, so not taking advantage of your employer match with Lendtable’s offer would make Future Millionaire You bow your head in shame. Get started here.
6. Improve Your Credit Score So You Can Afford Big Life Purchases
Owning a home can be a great investment in your future — home values tend to appreciate over time, meaning the house you buy now could bring you a serious windfall when you sell it and retire to Scottsdale.
But if your credit isn’t excellent, you could be hard-pressed to find a fair interest rate on a mortgage — if you get approved for a loan at all. That’s why it’s important to stay organized and keep tabs on your credit score.
So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.
Within 90 seconds, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.
Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.
2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.
For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.
***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.