The easiest (and quickest) ways to build wealth include winning the lottery, robbing a bank, or getting an inheritance.
Since these methods are either unusual or flat-out illegal, we have to resort to more practical ways that involve a level of effort and judiciousness.
Enter the practice of saving.
Unfortunately, saving money seems alien to many people I know. No sooner do they get a paycheck than they squander it on expensive things they may not need, like $500 shoes or handbags. What's worse, some blow it in even more egregious ways (think booze, drugs, and casinos).
I am a firm believer that every college student -- hell, maybe even high school students -- should be required to take a class on personal finance. Far too many of us go out into the real world not having a clue as to ways we can save money and why it's important to begin doing so at an early age. (The same goes for job hunting, which will be the subject of a future post.)
Think about it: If you get into the habit of socking away at least a hundred bucks into a savings account every month from an early age, you'll gradually build up considerable savings you could use for major life events (college, wedding, honeymoon, car, etc) and in the event of an emergency.
Unfortunately, many people don't have the discipline to maintain this habit for long, or something unexpected happens (e.g. layoffs at work) along the way that forces them to exhaust their savings.
Even if you've never made saving a priority in your life, it's not too late to get in the habit. From savings accounts to Certificates of Deposit (CDs), there are a number of products offered by banks and credit unions that you can look into.
What's more, you can earn interest on many of these accounts, even if the returns are paltry. (The Fed is considering raising interest rates in September, which might boost what we earn on interest.)
And if your company gives you the opportunity to contribute to a 401k or IRA (whether or not your employer matches your contribution), take advantage of it. This is an especially good option if you don't feel you have the discipline to save money on your own and want to start saving for retirement.
Be a smart consumer. Don't blow all your money on stuff you don't need, let alone products with exorbitant price tags. Save, save, save!
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