You don’t necessarily have to think of saving for the future as a “nest egg.” You can think of all those small things you do in life, financially, when you’re younger as gifts you give your future self: What can you do now that will create a better lifestyle or give you piece of mind in the future?
As you make your financial moves, consider some of the advice five people offer for their future selves.
1. The gift of a secure retirement
“Start participating in your company’s retirement program right now,” says Sandy Smith, 37, a human resources professional and financial blogger behind Yes, I Am Cheap from Queens, N.Y. “When you can, make sure to contribute enough to the retirement program to get the maximum free money that your employer offers.”
Even a small amount can make a difference, thanks to compound interest. The earlier you start saving for retirement, the more money you will have waiting for you. According to Business Insider, a person who begins investing $5,000 per year from age 25 until age 65 will have more than twice the amount as someone who waits until age 35 to start investing. Those ten extra years makes a huge difference.
2. The gift of growing extra cash
Look for ways to earn extra money on the side.
“Your day job isn’t always secure,” Drake says. “Even if you don’t lose your job at some point, the extra money you make from side projects can build your nest egg or emergency fund so that you have more security in the future.”
Starting a side business in your 20s or 30s can give you time to grow your income over time. It doesn’t matter if you only make a couple hundred dollars at first, Drake says. The important thing is to start earning side income now, so that you have more freedom later. Drake has built his business to the point that when his company closes an office in his area later this fall, he won’t need to relocate; instead, he’ll be able to shift the part-time business he’s been building over the past eight years into a full-time gig.
Casey Fleming, 58, lives in San Jose, Calif., and has spent more than 30 years in the mortgage industry. He prefers using rental properties to earn extra income.
“It’s a struggle the first few years, but the income grows while the expenses largely grow more slowly or even decline,” he says. “If you hold it long enough, you’ll have increasing residual income forever.”
3. The gift of better skills, education and experience
“Experience and education gain value with time,” says Todd Tresidder, 54, a financial coach living in Reno, Nev. Instead of buying stuff, which can depreciate over time, it might make more sense to invest in skills and education that could help you adapt to changing job markets.
Stefanie O’Connell, is a 28-year-old writer and actor in New York, and the author of “The Broke and Beautiful Life.” She recommends learning practical skills like coding as a gift to give your future self. What skills will be in demand in the future? From computer skills to health care abilities to the knowledge and experience to work on cars, there are some skills that will likely always be in demand.
Social media specialist Kate Dore, 31, from Nashville, lumps relationship-building into the category of valuable experience and education. “The expense of conferences, networking events, socializing and growing your knowledge pays off,” she says. Working with the right people and establishing networks can connect you to valuable financial opportunities.
4. The gift of debt-free or low-debt living
“Do whatever it takes so you won’t have to live paycheck to paycheck,” suggests frugality blogger Teresa Mears, 58, from Tamarac, Fla. She adds that debt can drag you down and steal your peace of mind and prosperity. Learn to cut unimportant expenses from your budget so that you aren’t paying for them–with interest–for decades.
Look for ways to free up the money to save and invest, whether you need to get a better job, cut costs, move to a different city, or change some of your financial habits. Mears says this financial gift is about more than just the money. “You will enjoy your life so much more if you’re not worried about paying the bills.”
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.