5 Exceptional Ways to Save for the Future – Now!

by Linsey Knerl · 6 comments

I’m a big believer in putting something away for a rainy day, but there’s more to planning for future financial needs than just having a well-funded emergency fund.  In addition to your typical shtick about having 3-months’ salary in a piggy bank somewhere, I’ve found the following bits of advice to be valuable, as well.  (All of them require action today in order to cash in later, though.) 

1. Plant a tree 
Trees are good for so many things.  You can hang a tire to swing on, or watch beautiful birds build their nests in them.  As far as a great financial move, however, trees help cut energy costs with their shade-bearing ways and are effective against soil erosion.  They can increase the value of your property and can provide a more natural privacy option than expensive fencing.  Pick a fruit-bearing variety, and you could even see a dent in your food bill within 2-6 years. But be sure to plant now, as they take years to reach maturity. 

2. Quit that nasty habit 
While we are all guilty of having negative routines, some of our vices are sucking us dry, both in health lost and money spent.  If you kick it to the curb today, however, it is possible to see some of the negative effects of addictions wane over time; losing that extra weight or quitting your pack-a-day fix can shave thousands of dollars off future medical bills and add years to your life.  So what are you waiting for?  Doing it now only ensures that the total saved over a lifetime could be substantial! 

3. Teach them well.
They are only kids once. Be sure that the info you give them is accurate and useful to help them to be financially literate adults.  Not only will your children have happier lives if they know how to manage their money as grown-ups, you won’t be suckered into co-signing for loans or bailing them out when times get tough.  Teach your kids sound money principles now to avoid big money headaches later.  (Even as teens, there is still time for them to learn.) 

4. Stock Your Toolbox 
Not having the right gear for a job can be budget-breaking.  The same can be said for not having the right life skills to take care of your everyday belongings.  By becoming a self-educated individual in the arts of changing your own oil, unclogging the drain, or even replacing a window, you can gain the satisfaction of having done something for yourself (not to mention avoiding a massive bill from an “expert”.)  As we age, it can take longer to acquire these new skills.  Pick one a week or so, and expand your knowledge to be able to do expensive tasks for yourself in the coming years.  You can even use your new talents to bless those around you.

5. Start a business 
I’m not talking about quitting your job and establishing a company with 10 employees, but I am suggesting that you embrace your entrepreneurial spirit (which we all have) and give something you’ve always wanted to try a shot.  In 2007, I was bit with the writer’s bug, and ever since then, I’ve committed just a bit more time to polishing my skills, networking, and promotion.  I’m glad I took that first step, because I’m now earning a full-time income, free of the difficulties of an hour-long commute and no longer suffering from inflexible work schedules.

Whether you can create, teach, resell, or freelance in your current industry, there is something you could spend just 5 hours a month on to build a business for the future.  You may never need to call on it for a full-time income, but you just may find that it inspires a passion for something you’ve dreamed of doing, or can help diversify your income in hard times. (And who knows?  It may be the start of something truly successful!)

Beyond the standard personal finance advice, are there things you are doing today to help keep your fiscally sound down the road?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Bernard says:

    Although it may sound counter intuitive, stop sending extra mortgage payments to your lender.

    Equity is not safe, it is illiquid, and it doesn’t earn interest. So, as one sends extra payments to the bank, he/she is effectively saying: “Here take my money. You earn interest on it. When I need it, I’ll apply for it from you and pay you interest again.”

    Instead, displace that equity and put it into a safe, liquid, interest earning vehicle. Make that money work for you … and not the bank.

  • James says:

    Great that Linsey , in item #5, says she was “bit” by the writer’s bug; now if she’d only be inoculated by the grammar spider and conjugation flea so that next time she will say she “was bitten by…”

  • I’m partial to no. 5. I love the idea of staying creative even while you’re involved in something else. Being able to make money off of our creative musings and have those musings turn into a full time job? Now that’s a blessing that makes me so glad I’m an American, crazy political advocates aside. Write on!

  • KM says:

    I love that you mentioned planting trees. Not only is it a great personal investment, it also benefits the environment and is pleasant for everyone around you. We have around 12 fruit trees in our backyard and although this year appears to be a hibernation year, last year was our first harvest since planting and it was extremely fruitful – we did not have to buy any peaches or apples the entire summer. As the rest of the trees mature, I am expecting to not have to buy any pears, apricots, plums, or cherries either.

    Another thing that goes along with kicking bad habits is keeping on top of good ones. Eating healthfully might be slightly more expensive now, but it will save on medical bills later. Running outside or exercising indoors, however, is free and has the same benefits.

  • Cassie says:

    Great Advice. I particularly like #4 Stock Your Toolbox. Taking care of everyday maintenance and repairs yourself can save you a bundle. Don’t know how? Volunteer to help a skilled friend or neighbor, attend free workshops at the big box stores or pick up a book at the library. Competence feels great !

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