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Avoid lifestyle inflation

While it can be quite tempting, spending more every time you get a raise can run counter to building future savings. Clearly, living below your means can help you save far more money for retirement in the long run. It’s as simple as the mantra “spend less than you make.”

That’s not to say you should become deprivational. Rather, strike a balance between your college “ramen noodle days” and conspicuous consumption that chases after bigger cars, bigger boats … and in the end, bigger bills.

A good rule of thumb is to look at your credit card balances. Ideally, these should be kept as close to zero as possible; if your balances are creeping up, ask yourself how hard a time you have keeping up.

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Use the 50/30/20 Rule

The 50/30/20 rule is a guideline that allocates 50% of your income to essential items, 30% to items you want, and the remaining 20% for savings and debt repayments. (In case you’re curious, the rule was first explained in the 2005 book “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan,” written by current U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi.)

The key is to treat this as a rule. What’s more, it’s a good idea when making a budget to filter money through separate accounts for essentials, items you want, and savings/debt. Not only will this make it easier to track your money; you’ll also create a structure that easily accommodates your long-term goals.

Boost your retirement contributions

Even a small increase in your retirement contributions can lead to a significant impact on your overall savings over time. A study by Vanguard found those who increased their retirement contributions by just 1% each year could increase their savings rate, eventually leading to the goal of between 12% and 15% annually.

Increasing the length of your contributions, as well as the amount, can therefore supercharge your retirement savings to help you catch up.

And don’t forget (as many full-time workers do, sadly) to take advantage of an employee match, which commonly doubles your 401(k) contributions up to 6% of your earnings. Assuming a salary of $40,000, a 30 year old who leverages 6% matches through age 65 will realize an extra $345,000.

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About the Author

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Freelance contributor

Amy Legate-Wolfe is an experienced personal finance writer and journalist. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Toronto, a Freelance Writing Certificate in Journalism from the University of Toronto Schools, and a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University. Amy has worked for Huffington Post, CTVNews.ca, CBC, Motley Fool Canada, and Financial Post. She is skilled at analyzing trends and creating content for digital and print platforms. In her free time, Amy enjoys reading and watching British dramas on BritBox. She is a mother and dog-mom to a Wheaten Terrier.

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