Stop making excuses about not saving for retirement. Do this instead


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You know what’s hard to hear?

Despite all the talk about retirement planning, and all the information available on the web, millions of people still aren’t saving for retirement. As a direct result American workers don’t have enough to retire comfortably. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 51% of workers over the age of 55 have less than $50,000 set aside for their retirement savings.

What’s even more discouraging is the excuses that most people give for not saving for retirement even when they understand the significance of their choice.

As a former financial planner I heard these excuses and I heard them often. Today, I call out 17 of the worst excuses for not saving for retirement.

Do any of these sound familiar?

If so…you’re busted!  On to the list….

1. It’s Too Early in My Life

This is probably the favorite excuse among the very young – like twenty-somethings, fresh-out-of-college. They reason that retirement is so far away – and that there’s so much to do between now and then – that saving for retirement is somehow even counter-productive.

If you are using this as an excuse, you need to understand that you are missing out on taking advantage of the very best years in your life to save for retirement.

To put it simply, the earlier in life you begin saving for retirement, the faster and easier the process will go. You might even find that if you start saving as soon as you’re out of college, you will have enough money saved up by the time you’re 35 or 40 that you will no longer need to fund your retirement – and you’ll still be comfortable by the time you actually do retire.

Seriously, one of the biggest factors in retirement isn’t so much what you put in as how long it’s been there. Starting early gives your nest egg time to give you great returns based on a little thing called compound interest.

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2. It’s Too Late in My Life

You know those twenty-somethings from number one who thought it was too early to start saving? Some time around 40 or 45, that excuse becomes “it’s too late to start saving for retirement.” This is also a convenient excuse for those who never gave retirement a second thought – until now.

Even though this excuse sounds more reasonable, it’s still just that – an excuse.

Here’s the thing: you’re still better off having something saved for retirement rather than nothing. At worst, a relatively small retirement portfolio can be a very large emergency fund for your retirement years. And, after age 50, you can contribute more per year than you previously could, to help you make up for some of that lost time.

3. My Employer Doesn’t Offer a Retirement Plan

This puts the blame for your lack of retirement savings squarely on your employer.

If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan – or you simply refuse to participate in it – and you don’t make any other provisions, you will most likely be broke by the time you retire. And logically, that means that you probably will never be able to truly retire.

You are the only one responsible for saving for your retirement. Not your employer, your parents, your spouse, or anyone else. If your employer offers a plan, enroll immediately. If they don’t, open a Roth IRA and start contributing. Or, better yet, do both. Like I said, something is better than nothing.

4. I Don’t Have Any Money

If you don’t have any money, then how are you paying your bills? How are you even living your life? If you are merely surviving, then you have at least some money.

What’s probably closer to the truth than not having any money is that retirement simply isn’t a priority for you.

Some people become savers in life because they make the choice early to prioritize saving over spending. That’s not a casual commitment, either. It often means consciously choosing to live at a very low level, and sometimes to do without things that many people consider to be necessities.

Even if you have a relatively low income, you can still make choices that emphasize saving money for retirement. And don’t forget the fact you still have the ability to make money now while you’re still working.

5. I Can’t Think About THAT Right Now

This is the confusion crutch – I can’t think about retirement because I have too much going on.
Every one of us, at virtually every stage of life, has to balance multiple obligations and priorities.

It’s easy to ignore retirement as a priority because it’s a really long-term goal, but retirement will be a priority at some point in your life, and when that time comes, you’ll be too busy stressing about that to take care of other responsibilities. Don’t put that stress on yourself.

The time to begin saving for retirement will never be perfect.

Whatever you’ve got going on in life, carve out some time, attention, and money to make saving for retirement one of your priorities.

6. I’m Afraid of Investing (or, More Appropriately, the Risk of Investing)

I can appreciate this excuse – almost. But it collapses when you consider that the biggest risk of all is doing nothing.

Let’s say that you do nothing in your lifetime to prepare for retirement. When retirement comes, you will be left with nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. That’s a BIG risk, wouldn’t you say?

Or, take this for example: instead of investing in the stock market for retirement, you put all of your money into certificates of deposit at your local bank, which is paying less than one percent per year. If inflation is averaging 3% per year, your CD savings will be worth a little bit less – 2% – each year. Over 30-40 years, your CDs will be worth less than you bought them for.

Is that really avoiding risk?

7. I Don’t Need to Save – I’ll Be Inheriting Money…

This one is an epic example of a feel-good excuse – I’ll be inheriting money so I don’t need to do anything for the future.

What if you have a falling out with the rich relative from whom you expect to inherit? What if that rich relative decides that he or she likes someone else better, and decides to exclude you from the will? What if the rich relative experiences a financial collapse, and there’s no money left to inherit?

Or what if the rich relative experiences a bout of temporary or permanent insanity that isn’t discovered until he blows his entire fortune in the casinos?

That’s a lot of what ifs. Do you want your retirement riding on such uncertainty?

You need a backup plan, even if you expect to inherit a lot of money. And that’s what a retirement plan will give you.

8. I Don’t Need to Save – I Have a Can’t-Miss Business Opportunity

I hope your business opportunity works out for you – really, I do. But let’s get back to that backup plan thing: there has to be a Plan B just in case Plan A doesn’t turn out the way you expect.

Reality often takes unexpected and disappointing directions. A well-funded retirement plan can be your backup, just in case reality decides not to cooperate with your plans.

Businesses fail all the time for many different reasons. Don’t cash in your future for a business opportunity in the present. It could all be gone in a year. Or less.

9. I Don’t Need to Save – My House Is My Retirement

You know that warning about putting all of your eggs in one basket? If you plan to rely on your house for your retirement, or any other major asset for that matter, all of your eggs are sitting in one basket, leaving you with very little if anything happens to that basket.

Retirement, just like investing in general, requires a healthy amount of diversification. Continue to plan on your house as one major component of your retirement. But diversify that plan with a well-funded retirement account, as well as a large amount of non-retirement financial assets. That’s the only way to ensure a truly comfortable retirement.

10. I Have Too Much Debt

One of the reasons that people have too much debt is that they don’t have any assets, particularly the long-term variety. Without any assets to offset the debt, you’re forced to rely on either current income or credit to pay your bills and cover emergencies. That’s no way to live.

You can break the debt cycle in your life by concentrating more heavily on building up savings and investments. A retirement plan is the perfect foundation, because it is the longest term investment you have, and once you have it, it can provide the kind of security that will encourage you to create other asset accounts.

If you don’t save money somehow, you’ll always be in debt, and you’ll be trapped in a vicious cycle.

11. I Don’t Plan to Retire

You may not plan to retire, but your employer and your own body may have other ideas. Even if you do plan to work well in your sixties, even your seventies, there will come a time in your life when you will no longer be able to work. When that happens, a well-funded retirement plan will be your best friend.

It’s fine if you don’t plan to retire. Just make sure that you have another plan, just in case the work-til-you-drop strategy doesn’t pan out.

12. I Don’t Know Much/Anything About Investing

Most people don’t, but they invest for retirement anyway. For one thing, there’s plenty of information about investing available on the internet, and it’s actually free. You can do research and you can join investment forums to help you learn. You can also get plenty of free advice on investment broker websites. It’s important to remember that investing in the stock market doesn’t have to be “high risk”. There are plenty of ways to invest that are safe.

And failing everything else, you can simply put a big chunk of your retirement portfolio into index funds and ride them up over the next few decades. You still won’t know anything about investing, but you’ll be getting the benefit from doing it anyway.

13. I’ve Never Had the Discipline to Save For Retirement

Here’s a secret: very few people have the discipline to actually put money into their retirement or savings accounts once you deposit that check. That’s what payroll savings contributions are for. You don’t have to have any discipline at all. You simply need to make a decision to do it, then decide how much you will contribute. Then you’ll be done.

No discipline will be necessary. And for what it’s worth, discipline isn’t something we’re born with; it’s something we acquire through preference and habit. You can do it, too.

14. It’s Impossible to Save Money in This Economy

There is some merit to this claim, but the flipside is that the uncertainty in the economy makes it even more necessary to save for retirement. If you know you can’t count on a job, or a pension from a given employer, then you must create your own.

Instability should be a call to action in your life. You are the person who is most responsible for your retirement, remember?

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2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

15. The World’s Going to Hell in a Hand Basket – Why Bother With Retirement?

So if your worldview is all doom-and-gloom and you don’t save for retirement because you think you won’t be able to have a retirement, then why bother with anything at all? Why get up in the morning? Why go to work every day? Why pay your bills?

This excuse is based purely on fatalism, and that isn’t the answer to anything. It’s the ultimate excuse to justify doing nothing at all.

Don’t play that game. And even if the world is going to hell in hand basket, you can mitigate at least some of that outcome with a fat retirement plan. At least then, the last few years of your life will be less stressful and more comfortable than what you may have experienced up to this point.

16. I’m Covered At Work

This excuse is often used when it comes to life insurance and disability. A slight variation – when it comes to charitable donations – is “I gave at the office.”

In whatever variation, and for whatever purpose, it’s nothing more than a pure excuse.

What if the retirement plan you have work isn’t adequate? What if the plan is in trouble somehow? What if your employer is in trouble at some time in the future?

Even if you are covered at work for retirement, there’s no substitute for having your own plan. And if your employer plan works out just fine, then you’ll have two plans in retirement.

And as everyone knows, two is better than one.

17. #YOLO

I saved the worst excuse for last. YOLO – You Only Live Once – is, yes, the worst excuse ever for not saving for retirement. If Excuse Number 15 is based on fatalism, YOLO is based on it’s twisted first cousin, hedonism.

While doing whatever you want often works well when you’re young, healthy and in your prime income earning years, it tends to wear out with age, just like the human body does. And that’s why you still need to save for retirement, no matter how much happiness you’re trying to grab along the way.

And here’s something else that might please the most committed hedonist – pleasure and happiness tend to feel a lot better when they’re backed up by a full financial tank. It means you can prepare for a more challenging time in your golden years, but still enjoy the pleasures of today – though admittedly you’ll have to cut back on them a bit to fund your plan.

 No More Excuses

There will come a time in your life when the excuses for not saving for retirement over your lifetime will become increasingly hollow. You can expect that to happen as you move closer to retirement age. But you can spare yourself that grief by ditching the excuses and committing yourself to getting started right here, right now. You don’t have to hit it hard, just get started. Once you do, you’ll get better at it with time.

Then when retirement comes, you’ll have your large and growing retirement plan to savor, rather than a lifetime of excuses.


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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29 simple ways to retire early


According to the Federal Reserve, fewer than four in 10 Americans feel they are on track with their retirement savings, but some are bolstering their accounts through extreme savings strategies in hopes of retiring early.

FIRE, which stands for financial independence, retire early, is a financial movement based on three principles:

  • A significant reduction in spending
  • An increase in income
  • Smart investing

It’s important to make the right moves if you want to retire early. Most people need to make some sacrifices to their time and budget to achieve FIRE. You may have to pick up one or two of the best side hustles and completely eliminate discretionary spending, or you might take a more laid-back approach.

Whatever your tolerance for financial sacrifice, there are some simple actions you can take now that could add years to your retirement. There’s bound to be something on this list you could start doing today.

Related: 8 simple pieces of advice from Warren Buffett that any investor can use


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To get started with planning for retirement, you’ll need to know where your money’s going. Start by tracking your average expenses for a month, and use that information to create a budget:

  1. Add up your sources of income.
  2. Subtract your predictable expenses, such as rent or a mortgage.
  3. Allocate the leftover income to various spending categories.

Maintaining a budget might be difficult without the right tools, so check out the best budgeting apps and find one that works for you.


It’s helpful to have a retirement age in mind and set a savings goal that will allow you to live comfortably through your extended retirement. A general rule of thumb is that you’ll need 10 times your annual salary invested to be able to retire at 67.

But if you want to retire early and maintain your current lifestyle, you’ll need to save more than that. Plan to have about 45% of your pre-tax, pre-retirement income saved for each year of retirement. Once you decide how much you’ll need, figure out how much you’ll need to set aside each year to get there.




You might think your utility costs are fixed, but there are a number of ways you could save money on utilities. You might:

  • Install energy-efficient features in your home, such as a smart thermostat.
  • Find ways to reduce your usage, like bundling up instead of increasing the heat.
  • Check to see whether you can switch electric companies or switch to a renewable energy plan, either of which might lower your bills.


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Although the FIRE movement focuses on investing money, you’ll also need liquid cash stashed in a savings account that you can access in an emergency. This will help you avoid needing to withdraw from your retirement account or borrow money that will cost you in interest charges.

Experts generally recommend keeping three to six months’ worth of expenses in a savings account, but you might feel more comfortable with more than that during the current economic downturn. At a minimum, economists suggest having $2,467 saved in an emergency fund.

And if you open one of the best savings accounts, then your money can still earn some interest even though you’re not investing it.


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If you monitor your credit card statements, you might find charges you didn’t expect. Maybe you never have canceled that free trial of a streaming service you only intended to try out.

If you don’t want to analyze your statements, you can use a free app such as Truebill to cancel unused subscriptions on your behalf. Truebill’s team of experts can also help you negotiate your telecommunications bills and request refunds from your bank when you’re charged an overdraft or late fee.


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Have you ever purchased an item only to watch the price drop later? Many retailers have policies in place to refund you the difference when that happens. And retailers such as Amazon will even refund your order if your delivery is late.

But keeping track of these policies, while also tracking prices on items you already bought, can be quite a headache. Try using a free service like Paribus or Waldo to more easily find potential refunds. Both work by scanning your email for receipts and monitoring prices on items you’ve purchased.




The more money you contribute to your retirement plans early on, the more your money will grow by the time you’re ready to retire. When saving for retirement, experts generally recommend stashing away 15% of your pre-tax income annually. But if you want to retire early, you’ll need to contribute even more.

You might consider going beyond just matching your employer contribution and trying to contribute up to the 401(k) limit. If you still have money to save, open an IRA in addition. If you’re self-employed, you can use a SEP IRA, which has much higher contribution limits.


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Every dollar you spend provides an opportunity to earn cashback and rewards, which can help you save more of your income for retirement. There’s no reason not to use a rewards card for all your purchases. There are plenty of annual fee-free cards to choose from, but you might also consider premium cards if you know the benefits, perks and rewards can offset the annual fee.

Which card will be the best rewards credit card for you will depend on your lifestyle and spending habits. And don’t be afraid to have multiple credit cards to make the most of different spending categories. Just make sure you pay your balance off each month to avoid any interest charges.


If you have fair or bad credit, you may not be able to get a low enough rate on a personal loan to consolidate your debt, and you won’t qualify for a balance transfer card, either. But you can use a debt repayment strategy to get out of debt faster and start saving more.

The debt avalanche method involves prioritizing your highest-interest debt while keeping up with the minimum payments on all your other bills. Once you’ve paid off your highest-interest debt, whether that’s a credit card or a payday loan, you’ll move to the next highest-interest debt on the list.


Why not get paid for the shopping you already do? With Ibotta, you can get automatic cash back for your online shopping when you use the browser extension or mobile app, and there are a few in-store options as well:

  • Purchase a gift card to use in-store and receive cashback instantly.
  • Link your store loyalty card to your Ibotta account for automatic cashback.
  • Select offers in the app prior to shopping, then submit your receipts for cashback.

Ibotta partners with more than 1,500 retailers, so you’ll be able to collect on most, if not all, of your purchases. Ibotta has dished out $600 million to Ibotta users since 2012.


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Find out how your salary compares to the average for your industry in your city. You may be able to find a new position at a company that pays better, especially if you’re currently earning below average. Even if you love your job, getting an offer at another company could give you some leverage to negotiate a raise.

You might even invest in some continuing education, such as professional certificates, to make yourself more marketable to future employers. Or you could train for a different career entirely if there are limits to how much you can earn in your industry.

There are plenty of affordable technology boot camps and professional certificates, and there are even paid apprenticeships for certain careers. Just be sure to evaluate the program thoroughly and calculate whether you’ll earn enough incremental income to offset the cost.


If you’re paying high APRs on your credit cards or other debt, you might be able to save money and get out of debt faster by getting a low-interest personal loan to pay off what you owe. It’ll leave you with just one bill to worry about every month, and you’ll pay less over the life of the loan.

If you have good or excellent credit and can pay off your debt within 18 months, you might also consider one of the best balance transfer credit cards to help you pay off your credit card debt. These credit cards come with a 0% introductory APR, and some of them offer that for up to 18 months. This means you can devote more of your money toward paying down the principal.


If you move to a city with a lower cost of living, you could potentially put more of your income toward retirement. That’s especially true if you work remotely, as your salary likely won’t change.

But where should you move? Start by checking out the 25 best cities for remote workers, which were chosen based on cost of living, housing affordability, Wi-Fi speeds and various amenities.




Real estate investments can be lucrative, but they used to require large amounts of cash. These days, you can invest in commercial real estate with as little as a few hundred dollars — and there are ways to invest in real estate without buying property.

Thanks to crowdfunding, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and investing apps, we can now all make moves toward our dream of becoming real estate barons and build income for our early retirement years.


Every insurance provider weighs your information differently, so you might be able to get a better rate by switching to a new provider. Even if you shopped around before you purchased your policy, it’s a good idea to compare prices across insurance companies every six months, especially if any of your circumstances have changed.

For example, to get the best car insurance, you can get quotes from individual providers’ websites, or you can use an insurance rate comparison tool to get multiple quotes at once.




If you’ve already maxed out your contributions on your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, you may be ready to invest money in a taxable brokerage account. You’ll pay taxes on your capital gains with these sorts of accounts, but there’s no limit to how much you can invest, and you can withdraw your money at any time.

To find the best brokerage account, compare fees to get the best deal. From there, decide what combination of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) you’d like to purchase. Or you can opt to go with one of the best investment apps, which can make it easy to get started, often with a very small minimum investment.


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Don’t throw away your receipts because those slips of paper could be worth more than you think. With Fetch, you can earn rewards (think gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Target) just from scanning your grocery receipts.

You don’t need to pre-select offers, but you can view offers before you shop to maximize your rewards. You’ll earn a minimum of five points for every eligible receipt scanned, but you can rack up way more than that by taking advantage of bonus point offers. You’ll also get 2,000 points for referring a friend. One thousand points are worth $1 toward a gift card.




It can be a smart idea to diversify your investment portfolio with an alternative asset class, such as blue-chip art. Investments in fine art have been known to outperform the S&P 500, and you no longer need millions to get a foot in the door.

With Masterworks, you can invest in shares of paintings at $20 each, with a minimum investment of $1,000. From there, you can choose to hold onto your investment for three to 10 years until the painting is sold, or sell your shares through the Masterworks secondary market.




If you have an extra bedroom, a comfortable sofa, or even an attic space you don’t use, you can earn extra money each month by renting out your space. You might choose to get a roommate or use a platform like Airbnb, which can be one of the more lucrative side hustles in the gig economy.

If you don’t have sleeping space but you have storage space to rent out, check out Neighbor.


Drop is a free app and Chrome extension that rewards you for shopping with hundreds of retailers. In addition to shopping directly from the app, you can link a credit or debit card to automatically get points when you make a purchase at a partner retailer.

Every 1,000 points equal $1, and you can redeem your points for gift cards at top stores like Amazon and Starbucks. Use those gift cards for your everyday purchases, and you’ll have more money left over from your income to contribute to a retirement account.


Raysonho / Wikimedia Commons


As of December 2020, the national average annual percentage yield (APY) on a savings account is just .05%, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). That’s not much compared to what some high-yield savings accounts offer. For example, a savings account with an online bank could earn you 1%.

Although your money will certainly grow faster in a retirement account, a high-yield savings account is a great place to keep your cash. There are even high-yield savings accounts with no minimum balance requirement, so you can open an account and start building toward retirement even with a small amount today.


Bad credit can cost you thousands of dollars in interest charges on your auto and home loans, raise your insurance premiums and make it more costly to take out a personal loan or use a credit card.

Take steps to improve your credit score so you can avoid paying unnecessary interest. Set up automatic payments so they’re always on time, and try to lower your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit you’re using) by paying down debt, making payments twice per month, and asking for a higher credit limit.

If you have limited credit history, consider using a secured credit card to build credit, or ask to be an authorized user on a creditworthy relative’s account. Monitor your score regularly with a free service that can help you see simple moves to make that can continue building your score.


It can be tricky to know how much to set aside each month, especially if your income or expenses fluctuate. Digit is an app that analyzes your income, spending and upcoming bills to determine a safe amount to save for you.

Your money is automatically deposited into an FDIC-insured account. Digit can also help you pay off credit card debt and invest to reach your retirement goals.


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A lot of people have unclaimed cash they’re not aware is out there. It could be a security deposit that was never returned or an overtime check you never cashed. Or it might be something more significant, like an unclaimed life insurance payout.

It’s easy to check for this money with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. You’ll need to search by state, so you should conduct a search for all the states you’ve lived in.


If you throw away your old clothes, books, home items or used electronics, you’re throwing away money. It’s easy to resell your items online for cash. Check out the following platforms to get started:

  • Electronics: eBay, Amazon
  • Home items: Letgo, Craigslist, OfferUp
  • Clothing: Poshmark, Mercari, thredUP
  • Books: BookScouter, Amazon, Half Price Books

You can also use many of these same sites to find money-saving deals on secondhand items for your household, in addition to snagging items at local thrift stores.


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If you don’t use your car that often, you can potentially earn hundreds of dollars per month renting it out with a service like Getaround or Turo. You’ll need to keep your car clean and well-maintained but beyond that, not much effort is required.

Turo offers a contactless check-in process that allows you to do a remote identification of the driver. Getaround uses a device that allows renters to unlock your car from their phone.

If you’re a frequent commuter, you can also earn money from your car by displaying advertisements as you drive. Wrapify or Carvertise will place removable ads on your vehicle, and you’ll get paid according to how often and where you drive.


The amount you can earn with most side hustles is limited due to time constraints. We all have only so many hours in the day. But passive income opportunities can be a way to earn money while you’re doing other things. Some require effort upfront, but very little ongoing work is needed to keep earning.

For example, ways to earn passive income might include:

  • Creating an online course and selling it
  • Creating a popular YouTube video
  • Becoming a peer-to-peer lender
  • Opening a dropshipping business
  • Monetizing your blog or social media page with affiliate marketing


For many careers, there are opportunities to work freelance in addition to your day job. If you’re a writer, designer, web developer, photographer, assistant, accountant or any other job that lends itself to freelance work, try creating a profile advertising your skills on Upwork or Fiverr.

You can also check out freelance opportunities on FlexJobs or other job sites. Eventually, you may want to create a portfolio website showcasing recent work and testimonials from past clients.


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A spending freeze is a planned break from discretionary spending. That means you’ll only put money toward your necessary bills and expenses, such as paying rent and buying groceries.

You’ll cut out all spending on dining out, entertainment, subscription services, clothing and anything else you don’t need to live. It can be hard to keep this up in the long term, but if you plan on doing it for one or two months out of the year, you’ll save a significant chunk of change.


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The FIRE movement isn’t for everyone, but anyone can learn from its principles. When you’re about to make a purchase, think about whether you could divert that money to savings instead. If you value financial independence, frugality will follow. And if you have a savings goal in mind, you’ll be more motivated to earn extra income as well.

Even if you don’t want to retire early, this list of money moves can help you reach other financial goals and will contribute to your overall financial stability. In other words, these are healthy choices, especially during an economic downturn.

Whether you want to retire at 45 or 65, know that you have the potential to reach your goal. It’s going to take effort, and you’ll need to make sacrifices, but you’ll ultimately be rewarded with more time to spend however you wish. And these moves are a great place to start.

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This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


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