Yes, the best time to start saving for retirement is when you first join the workforce. But if you’re like a lot of us, you might be feeling a bit behind. That’s OK — the second best time to start saving is today. You still have a shot to retire a millionaire.
So take a deep breath, because you’re going to be OK! But don’t wait any longer to grow your wealth, because the sooner you get started, the better shape you’ll be in when your retirement party gets planned.
Here are a few ways to kickstart your savings and get you into the Seven Figure Club.
1. Start An Investment Portfolio Today With Just $1
Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company. They definitely won’t have to worry about money when they retire.
But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach. It can feel like retiring a millionaire, let alone retiring at all, isn’t possible because you don’t own a company.
That’s why a lot of people use the app Stash. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies for as little as $1.* And by investing in profitable companies, you can grow your money faster than if it sat in a regular savings account.
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google or Apple, for as little as $1. The best part? When these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.
It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.**
2. Diversify Your Investments and Buy Real Estate
If you’re already investing in the stock market, it’s good financial advice to diversify your investments to help you reach your retirement goals. And while the idea of investing in real estate sounds nice, don’t you have to be wealthy to do that?
Not necessarily. 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 commercial real estate — specifically, in apartment complexes that it owns — and you only need $500.
Real estate can potentially earn you more money than 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, it has earned an annual return of 17% to 18%.
So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. All you need to get started is $500.
3. Grow Your Money 16x Faster, With No Risk
While we’re talking about ways to grow your retirement fund fast with investments, it’s also smart to take care of the money you do have.
You should also be looking for a place to safely stash it away — but still earn money. Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account won’t do you much better. (Ahem, 0.05% 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. Cut Back on Your Bills, Starting With Your Car Insurance
When you’re trying to save for retirement, cutting expenses is one of the most impactful things you can do in the short term. You don’t want to cut every enjoyable thing out of your budget, but the truth is, one of the simplest expenses you can cut is car insurance.
A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826/year.
All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. Best yet: This is totally free.
If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.
5. Get Rid of Your Credit Card Debt Faster, So You Can Put More Money Into Retirement
People who are prepared for retirement do a lot of smart things with their money. Wasting it on credit-card-debt payments isn’t one of them.
Unavoidable for normal people like us though, right? It feels like we’ll always be stuck with escalating interest, making it impossible to fully pay off our debt.
But with help from a free website called AmOne, you could wipe out all of your credit card debt by the end of the week.
It will match you with a low-interest loan to pay off all your credit cards at once. Its interest rates start at 3.49% — way lower than the 20% or more you’re probably paying your credit card company. That could save you thousands in the long run.
Plus, you’ll be debt-free that much faster.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online.
6. Improve Your Credit Score So You Can Become a Homeowner
When it comes to your credit score, it’s important to stay organized and keep tabs on it. And while you’re probably thinking, What does my credit score have to do with retirement?, it actually can play a huge role in your financial freedom.
Like if you want to make a big purchase — a house, a car, a boat, whatever — having good credit is imperative.
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 two minutes, 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.
7. Take Advantage of Your Employer’s 401(k) Match (Even If You Don’t Have the Cash)
Does your boss match your 401(k) contributions? If you take advantage, it could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in your account when you retire. It’s free money!
But what if you can’t afford to contribute to your 401(k)?
Believe it or not, 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.
It takes three minutes to answer a few questions to see how much free money you could get from your boss.
*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
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.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.