It's time to start thinking about investing, I've decided. I have my first salaried job, and given that my expenses are not much more then they were in college, I should feasibly have quite a bit of money to play with, right? Wrong.
Somehow, the money has just disappeared. First, it was buying new things for C & I's apartment. Shelving units for my scrapbook stuff (love the Target stackable units, btw), frames to fill up the walls, pillows to add some color to the room, and lots of lovely kitchen gear. Soon, the apartment stopped looking so barren, and C's constant desire for a bicycle resulted in ~$400 of bicycle gear (yes, darling, I am very happy that we got bicycles and I love you to pieces and obviously I love my bicycle). Unfortunately, this paycheck has disappeared similarly (in that I don't know where it went). What's a girl to do?
Obviously, the only solution has been to divert some of my money before it appears in my bank account. I already have a set amount going into a longterm savings account run by my employer. I do know that I need to set up short term savings, both for emergencies and to begin saving for something a little more important then a new Lilly shift (speaking of which, this new fall line is not my favorite).
Here's a list of the things that are prodding me into financial freedom:
- My parents. With no credit card debt and all of our homes paid off, they are the primary reason I know the value of investing early.
- My co-worker, Katie. Passionate about her Charles Schwab account and well versed in the art of saving money, Katie constantly encourages a third co-worker and myself to invest our money, instead of letting it sit in itty-bitty interest earning savings accounts, letting the big-money banks rape and pillage what could have been our retirement savings. She is the one who introduced me to the following:
- Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. Easy to read and fast paced, Bach's book is filled with inspiring 'true-life' (allegedly) success stories of women who invested early (or early enough) and turned their financial lives around. It is full of tips and really encouraging. I literally put it down in order to do something it has advised me to do, like print out my bank account statements and realize how many $3 sodas and $4 ATM fees I accrue per month.
- mint.com . Free, fast and easy, mint.com is an amazing resource for the average young investor. You provide your bank account information (scary, yes, but I checked out their credentials beforehand and they are supposedly quite safe), they provide pie charts of where exactly you spend your money, helping you by providing savings accounts with higher interest rates, credit cards with lower interest rates, and a medley of other money saving options. I haven't been a member long enough to accumulate these cash-saving deals, but I'm still pretty psyched because I love a good pie chart almost as much as I love free services.
- Research. The more research I do, the more excited I get. Companies are all vying for your money, and they have all kinds of ways for you to invest. www.bankrate.com actually shows you the interest rates offered by banks in your area - I was about to buy a CD with a 2.6% rate of return, and after using bankrate.com, am going to save up $500 more in order to buy a CD with a 5% interest rate!
What do you do to save your money? Have you started saving yet? Do you have any suggestions on where to cut costs? I've started bringing Lean Cuisines for lunch (when you get them for $2/ea., it's a STEAL!) but I think the real reason I spend money is food (even more so then bars)...all of those grocery trips really do add up! I can't wait until I see the first interest payment in my first money market account :)