Want to retire at 50? Here’s how to make it happen


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Congratulations! You’ve made the most critical step in the entire process – searching out how to become financially independent. In my book, I explain how I made several money mistakes over and over before finally making the decision that enough is enough. To be sure, achieving financial independence has to be a priority if you want to be successful.

This article outlines a 3-step path towards achieving financial freedom, or independence. I use the terms interchangeably.

Make Financial Independence The Goal

Before getting into the “steps to become financially independent”, start by determining the why. So let’s break this down.

Ask yourself: Hey, it’s January 5, 2023, what do you want in life?

No, it’s not a million, or ten million dollars. The dollar amount is what you’ll need to get to have what you want and do what you want. And it will be different for everyone.

To become financially independent, you need to have more passive income than expenses.

Financially Independence Through “If only”

One of the ideas I often had was, “if only I won the lottery.” Or, “if only I made more money” then I could someday free myself of a day-to-day job.

Unfortunately, the “if only” idea just doesn’t work without action. Surely, if there were a magic ball that would tell me the next week’s lotto numbers, it might make things easy.

The fact is, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t so. You see, you don’t need to win the lottery or get a raise to become financially independent.

Yes, it would certainly help, but unless you know how to build a monthly surplus, and maintain it, there’s no way you can ever achieve financial independence.

Learning How To Become Financially Independent

So if winning the lottery or getting a raise isn’t the key, then what is? Simple! Reduce your monthly expenses, and start building a monthly surplus.

Sound easy? It is! But, habit is hard to change. Luckily, money is its motivator. For example, when you have more money month after month frees your mind to think about more important things, rather than what needs to get paid.

Choosing to become financially independent and follow this course is the first step in achieving the life you always wanted to live.

Read on to discover the essential points to achieving financial freedom. Examples of topics will be cash flow management, debt reduction strategies, what to do with extra money, and knowing (roughly) how much you’ll need to become financially independent.

The very first step, however, has already been done. You got this far. Then, the next step is to introduce yourself in our private, members-only Facebook Group. There, in the group, you can discuss what you are learning, ask questions, and learn more from each other’s specific perspectives.

What Is Financial Independence?

In my book, The Financially Independent Millennial, I define financial independence as having more PASSIVE INCOME than you have monthly expenses.

It’s essential to know the distinction between passive income and active income. Active income is income earned from the occupation in which you are “actively involved.”

For example, if you go to work every day, the income you make from that is considered “Active.” Unfortunately, you are limited with how much you can make with active income, as there are only “so many hours in the day.”

Passive income is the income you earn without being actively involved. It goes without saying, becoming financially independent requires that you have passive income!

Examples of passive income include:

  • Pension income, dividends
  • Bonds
  • Rental income
  • Royalties
  • Interest from CD’s/GIC’s, etc.

Step 1: Cut The Costs

Let me tell you a SECRET (but seriously, don’t tell anyone). There’s a few ways for achieving financial independence. But, it’s not about earning more money. It’s about spending less.

So how does one get on top of my financial house? Simple, it starts with simply knowing your monthly surplus.

But how? The easiest way to find out your monthly surplus is to have a look at your income and expenses for the last 2-3 months on paper. Or better yet, by putting it all on a spreadsheet. Categorize your expenses. Include any/all income.

Sounds like a lot of work? No, I did most of the word and a pre-filled spreadsheet for you. You can download my example budget spreadsheet here and follow along.

As you can see, I pre-filled two months of Income & Expenses.

Now it’s your turn to download your income + expenses from your online banking and put them all here in the spreadsheet.

Cost Cutting Tip

If you use a credit card, do not include the credit card debt, or the payments TO the credit card. Instead, set up categories for the credit cards as makes sense to you.

For instance, if you paid $480 in minimum payments from your checking account to your credit card, don’t count these $480 of minimum payments in your expenses. Instead, add up each category of costs (get these from online banking) on your credit card and insert them into the spreadsheet.

So if you spent $300 on clothes and $180 on restaurants – those are the figures you’ll use. Interest charges are also an expense.

Do this for the past two to three complete months—ideally 3. And, by the end, you will start to see a pattern.

At the bottom of the spreadsheet, you will find your surplus. As I said earlier, this is the most critical part of this lesson. Know your surplus.

Identify Areas to Cut Expenses For Achieving Financial Independence

The next step is to figure out how to increase your surplus. If you have a deficit, you’ll want to work to turn it into a surplus ASAP. While your instinct might be that you have to get a better job (i.e., a higher-paying one) or work more, the simple fact is:

“It doesn’t matter if you make $50,000 a year or $150,000 a year. Unless you spend less than you make, you’ll never get ahead.”

— Rick Orford

It’s kind of like the old chicken and egg story. But how do you start? First, you need to be cutting the budget. Oh, yes, this is going to be fun. Keep telling yourself that, and it will!

You have to cut the budget. Cutting the budget is what’s needed to generate extra money at the end of every month. For every dollar spent on a subscription, or something you don’t need, that’s a dollar that doesn’t used for something better.

A few ways budget cutbacks can get used:

  • Pay down debt
  • Increase or create an emergency fund
  • Set aside for a large purchase, or
  • Invest (with an investment professional).

Eventually, the last two will be your monthly goals. But how?

Where To Cut Costs

Now that you have a spreadsheet set up with at least two months’ expenses detailed, now we need to look at where we can cut out some costs.

Society is generally quite knowledgeable about how much and when their income arrives, but rarely devotes more than a fraction of that time focusing on their expenses!

Cash flow plan

In this example, the first column is your TARGET (your goal). In addition, you’ll find the monthly columns that indicate what got spent. In this example, the goal is to achieve $1,092.46/mo ($12149.52/yr) in surplus income.

Next, start filling in the past three months of income and expenses.

As you can see, in December and January, there was no surplus. The example person spent $886.84 MORE in December than they earned. If this is like you, don’t worry, it’s not an uncommon issue and is generally easily fixed.

Determine your Needs and Wants

The first thing you need to think about when cutting expenses is to determine your needs and wants.

Needs are things like food, rent/mortgage, and utilities (like Electricity).

Wants are all the things that make us feel like we’re keeping up with the jones, for example, fancy restaurants, clothing, expensive holidays, etc. To be sure, wants are what I call financial independence killers!

Strategies For Cutting Expenses

My favorite way to start an expense-cutting campaign is to make it into a game. Patience is key – it’s something that will take time to get right. First, start slow and work out the easy categories first.

Start with Shopping and Restaurants.

Then, set a goal of cutting these categories’ worst month by 50%. For instance, in the above cash flow example, the person spent nearly $1,500 in December on restaurants. Consider setting a goal to cut that in half (I.e., $750/mo). And then, think about ways you might be successful in doing so. E.g., could you bring food to work (For lunch) or make your coffee at home, and bring it with you outside?

For the shopping category, ask yourself the next time you consider buying X or Y the following questions: “Do I REALLY need this” and “Can I live without it”?

To Become Financially Independent, Do I Need To Pay All Debt?

Debt reduction is the natural next step to achieving financial independence. Certainly, generating a healthy surplus is essential to eliminating monthly debt payments. Also, the surplus will be the key if you need help getting out of a debt spiral. Plus, the first step in debt reduction is to identify what is good debt vs. bad debt.

Good debt

Good debt is anything that has an asset attached and, ideally, has equity and can get sold. For example, good debt is a secured loan with a reasonable (non-predatory) interest rate. Loans that often match these criteria are mortgages and, to some degree, car loans.

Many who are financially independent continue to use leverage and maintain good debt. For example, a smart investor might have a mortgage on a rental property and pay 4% interest to the bank. All while earning 10% from the rental income.

Speaking of mortgages – it’s always best to have it with an equal housing lender. An equal housing lender is regulated and it ensures that you aren’t subject to predatory terms.

Bad debt

Bad debt is a loan account that carries high-interest rates (i.e., over 15%) and is never good for one’s financial future. Indeed, bad debt is unsecured as it does not have any assets attached that you can sell. Credit cards, and student loans (due to their high, unsecured balances) often come to mind. They can seem like endless obstacles that can’t get overcome. Further, bad debt will undoubtedly play a role in preventing someone from becoming financially independent.

Having said that, there’s an exception to using unsecured debt. If you are buying an asset that holds value and can be sold, then, using a credit card or line of credit may be okay. In this case, you’ll need to pay attention to the interest rate.

For example, your situation might look a little like this:

Financial plan

When it comes to which debt to pay off first, experts have two schools of thought. Some believe it’s best to start with the loan/debt that has the highest interest rate.

I believe starting by paying off the account with the lowest balance. Why? It becomes a quick win. And motivates you to pay off the next highest debt. Not only that, it builds confidence, and I think you’ll more than likely stick with the program. Why not give yourself a quick win?

Don’t Forget The Surplus

Also, consider your monthly surplus target. The target surplus that you should have at the end of the month. The higher the number, the better. And, if you exceed the goal, consider that a win! If your monthly surplus target is $1,000 and you have $1,200 leftover, that’s fantastic! Over a year, consider setting a surplus target of 75% of your income. And by the end of the 2nd year, try for 50%. For instance, if your monthly household income is $7,000 – set a monthly surplus target of $3,500. It won’t be easy, so take it slow.

Improve Your Credit Score

By now, you’ll have reduced expenses, created a surplus, and started paying down debt. One thing you may be surprised to know is that your credit score will have likely improved, perhaps a little. It’s true! As long as you’re not late making your payments, and lowering your debt load, your score would have likely improved!

Why might this be important? Lenders look at your credit score as a risk factor when determining whether or not to grant you the loan in addition to setting your interest rate! In other words, a higher credit score will generally mean you pay less interest! Paying less interest means a higher monthly surplus!

Step 2: Increase Income

As you are reducing debt payments, the next step is to increase income to generate a monthly surplus. At this stage, your surplus can continue to get used to pay down your high interest/consumer debt.

Get A New Job

Career prospects today are better than they (almost) ever have. Anyone who wants a job can get one. A nice benefit of this is that after a few years in your current position, you can likely move into a new / better / higher-paying role at either your current employer or elsewhere.

Considering that unemployment is at a near all-time low, don’t hesitate to ask for a raise, or look for a better-paying job.

Get A Side Hustle or Start A Small Business

It doesn’t matter if you make $50,000 or $150,000 a year. Unless you’re spending less than you earn, you’ll never get ahead. 

Rick Orford

The above quote is one of my favorites, and I feel like I say it daily. After cutting expenses, there is simply no quicker and easier way to improve your monthly surplus than getting a side hustle.

Starting a side hustle or small business is one of my all-time favorites to increase my monthly income. Also, it can make you the most money.

For example, consider ridesharing, food delivery, teaching English online, becoming a local tour guide, or even just a simple part-time job! Getting a side hustle will help you increase your monthly income.

And, I believe just about anyone can do it.

If you want to start something a little more serious, find a product or service that you can sell to others (People or businesses) on a consistent monthly basis. Make it subscription-based. For example, customers pay you a set amount every month (Automatic payments, i.e., via Paypal Subscriptions, are a favorite of mine). Then, in your business plan, make sure to consider how it might be scalable (I.e., what happens if you suddenly got 10x the customers, or 100x).

Perhaps the product is a newsletter that gives the reader value on a particular topic. Or, maybe it’s a service like bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is hot in 2023! Whatever it is, keep your expenses low, watch your dollars, and make a goal of eventually making it a hands-free business, or do like I did and sell it for seven or even eight figures!

Create an Emergency Fund

The reason to have emergency fund is to save money you can use if “worst came to worst.” For example, you might have lost your job or faced a significant and unexpected expense. The emergency fund should take care of these unexpected expenses! Th cash can in a bank account, i.e. a savings account. But, you can’t touch it unless there’s an emergency!

Experts agree an emergency fund (sitting in a savings account) should contain six months of your needs expenses. Indeed, that means rent/loan payments/insurance, etc. It does not include discretionary categories such as eating out, or “new jeans” because these would be cut regardless in an emergency. However, unexpected expenses can get paid from this fund.

Step 3: Invest Your Monthly Surplus

As you’ve already done a ton of work, this step will seem like a breeze. Once you’ve paid off your consumer debt, high-interest debt, student loans, and created an emergency fund, now it’s time to put your money to work. You can start retirement planning!

Make it a habit to invest your monthly surplus money regardless of the current market conditions. Buy stocks, or save the down payment on a rental property, etc.

Consider passive income opportunities, for example, dividends or rental income, and keep reinvesting that income + your monthly surplus. Through the power of compounding, your money will start to grow faster than a speeding bullet. Whatever you do, always invest with a licensed investment professional, and ideally from a wealth management firm.

Financial Independence Number

Your financial independence number is an essential part of retirement planning as you’ll need to know how much you’ll need to be “Financially Independent.” To be sure, your financial independence number is equal to your annual expenses (needs and wants) times 25.

So if you say your monthly expenses are $4,500/mo, then the amount you need to be FI is $1,350,000. This money will need to get invested in a conservative portfolio of dividend-paying stocks, and a combination of short & long-term bonds. Then, the dividends become the passive income that you’ll live on, thus achieving financial freedom.

The 4% Rule

Need to know: The 4% Rule is the conservative withdrawal rate that experts agree can be withdrawn from your investments in “retirement” without touching the principal.

How do you calculate it? To get your financial independence number, multiply your annual expenses (needs and wants) by 25.

For example, your minimum expenses look like this:

  • Mortgage/Rent/Insurance/Maintenance: $2000/mo
  • Food/Restaurants/Shopping $1000/mo
  • Car/Gas/Insurance: $600/mo
  • Misc/Travel/Discretionary $400/mo

In this (albeit minimal) budget, you would add up the monthly expenses ($4000), and multiply by 12 to get the annual figure, and then 25.  Also, in this example, you can achieve financial independence with $1,200,000 invested.

With this amount of money invested, it should generate enough income to sustain a 4% withdrawal rate.


How Much Do I Need To Save To Become Financially Independent

If you want to retire at 65 or 67, and are in your 30’s – you can likely get away with saving & investing 10-15% of your income, and you’ll probably be ok. To reach financial independence and retire early, one needs about 15-20 years and save and invest up to 50% – 60% of your income. The range is vast as market conditions, age, salary, etc. all are different variables of the equation.

How much do you have to make a year to be financially independent?

You could become financially independent with a salary of $50,000 a year, or $150,000 a year. The key to becoming FI is having a monthly surplus.

How can I be financially independent at 22?

To become financially independent at 22, you’ll need to have more passive income than expenses.

At what age should you be independent?

For most, you could achieve financial independence in 15-20 years. So, if you start at age 20, you could reach FIRE by 35.

Final Thoughts On Becoming Financially Independent

The path to financial independence is usually a slow and boring process. Getting rich quick is not the norm. And, I might even say, unless one learns the money skills needed to maintain a healthy retirement, getting rich quickly could lead to burning through the money just as fast.

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This article originally appeared on RickOrford.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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 FinanceBuzz.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.




Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.