So, you want to live like a millionaire? The common narrative in all rags-to-riches stories is that becoming wealthy hinges on the little decisions you make each day to put money in your own pocket instead of someone else’s.
Smart spending is about picking and choosing which nice things to have, and when. It's your decisions that take you either in a direction where you're poor and in debt, or wealthy and comfortable.
Ready to get started? Here's a list of five things you can start doing today to take control of your money and set yourself on the road to wealth.
1. Save automatically
You pay your gas bill and your electric bill automatically, but when did you last pay yourself automatically? Setting up automatic deposits to a savings account is the first and best way to grow your savings.
You'll want to choose what's called a high-yield savings account, so you'll earn the best possible interest on your money.
Did you know that saving just $25 per week will allow you to save $1,300 over one year? Or that $100 a week will allow you to save $5,400 over the course of a year?
Saving just $100 a week at just 1% interest rate will give you over $100,000 in less than 20 years. (But you should be earning higher interest — 1% is worst case.)
No matter the amount you're comfortable setting aisde, it's crucial to just get started. You can always increase your automatic weekly deposit at a later date.
2. Pay off your debts
Interest payments will kill your wealth goals faster than anything else.
Transfering high-interest balances to a credit card with a lower interest rate is a great option for anyone who has multiple credit cards, because having a single bill makes it much easier to make payments on your entire debt and track of your progress.
A balance transfer credit card can reduce the interest you pay on your total credit card debt, effectively lowering your monthly payments and saving you money on finance charges.
You might also consider a debt consolidation loan, which can typically be found at a significantly lower interest rate than the rate offered by credit cards.
If you've got mortgage debt, consider refinancing at a lower rate, and make lump-sum payments whenever possible.
3. Make responsible spending choices
A meal at a restaurant costs at least 300% of the price of the ingredients you would buy in a grocery store. So, that $18 pasta dish at your favorite Italian spot would have cost you $6 or less to make at home.
Cooking at home is cheap and can be fast and easy.
How does eating at home help you on the road to becoming a millionaire? Consider this statistic: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food accounts for about 13% of the average household budget, and a majority of that money is spent on dining out.
You could save thousands of dollars every year simply by cooking healthy, delicious homemade meals.
As for entertainment, take advantage of free music festivals, art exhibits, dance classes, talk-show tapings and more. If there's something fun happening nearby, then take a short road trip to the next town over.
4. Trim your bills
The last thing you need is to pay for are services you don't use. Go through your monthly recurring bills for services like your phone, cable, cloud storage and gym memberships, then cancel what you're not using.
You might consider ditching your cable entirely and making the switch to less expensive online streaming options like Netflix or Hulu.
Again, how does trimming your bills help you on the road to becoming a millionaire? For one, extra money in your pocket is a good thing. That said, it's important to remember that smart spending is about picking and choosing which nice things to have, and when.
If you've trained yourself to make small sacrifies, the larger, more consequential decisions will come easier.
5. Set realistic goals
One important part of putting money away is knowing why you are putting it away. The goal of "becoming a millionaire" is terrific, but it might not be realistic in the short term, or might be too distant to encourage good spending and saving habits right now.
So, what’s driving your savings? A down payment on a house? A car? A vacation? A home renovation? Retirement? Save for a realistic goal, and the incredible, implausible goal of becoming a millionaire will sneak up on you, thanks to your good habits and practiced financial mastery.
Remember, time is important to saving. There's a real possibility that it will take you years to achieve your goals. Don't let this discourage you.
You already work hard. Now's the time to make your money work for you, and the sooner you start saving, the better.