It is possible to start investing at age 35 and achieve millionaire status. But one of the more important points about investing in your mid-30s (and 20s, too) is to stay the course, meaning don’t tamper with your 401(k) if unplanned life situations occur. So, exactly how can you “plan” for “unplanned” life situations to keep your 401(k) savings on track?
Start saving for an emergency fund.
Here’s 4 brilliant ways I saved $12K in 2016 to ensure I don’t ever tamper with my 401(k):
- Cut unneeded household expenses right now. Best place to start is to look at household expenses and/or habits that you really could cut back on to save some cash. For example, stop buying coffee in the morning at Starbucks, and/or get rid of unread newspapers and magazines that you never read, which are collecting dust everyday. Last year I saved $500 a year by not buying coffee from Starbucks, instead opting to make home-brewed coffee each day. And I cut my New York Times subscription, because I realized I was never reading their articles, which saved me an extra $360 a year.
- Paid off a car, student loan or mortgage? Save the payments! If you have recently paid off a car, student loans or a mortgage, save those payments! Act as if you are still making those payments, but instead of giving that money to your lender give it back to yourself, putting the money into an emergency fund. In my case, last year I saved $2,400 by putting what I would have paid my car dealership into an emergency fund. (Additionally, I turned in my car and saved what I would have paid in car insurance and gas, saving me $850 and $1,300, respectively.)
- Live with a roommate and split the rent & bills. Last year a roommate moved in saving me half of the rent and utilities. Instead of spending that extra money I saved the savings, promptly putting it right into my emergency savings account! Additionally, I saved half the utilities (cable, electricity, etc.). The split rent saved me $5,300 and the utilities split saved me $600, all of which I put into an emergency fund.
- Save any salary increases you get! If you get salary increase then act and think as if you didn’t receive one and instead save the salary bumps. By simply saving these salary increases I saved $800. You learn to live within your existing means, and those savings go farther in an emergency fund than spent.
- Cut household expenses: $860
- Saved car payments, insurance & gas: $4,550
- Shared rent/utilities expenses: $5,900
- Salary increase savings: $800
- Total: $12,110
Remember, each savings situation is unique. But use these 4 brilliant steps to similarly find ways to cut costs in your own personal budget to save where you can. With an emergency fund in place, you’ll never need to get off track from your 401(k) investing.
Stay tuned! To get this blog started, I’ll be taking inspiration from my upcoming book, From Millennial to Millionaire: DIY 401(k) – 5 Do-It-Yourself Steps for the Digital Generation to Design and Manage their 401(k), to write blog posts. My new book should be available in eBook and paperback on Amazon by summer 2017.