No matter where you are in your career, retirement is likely to be on your mind. Since this generation of workers can no longer expect employers to provide a generous pension and health insurance coverage, it can feel like all retirement decisions are up to us as individuals.

Add in the fact that there are a number of ways that retirement planning can go off the rails – and not all of those ways are within an investor’s control – and it’s clear that we have good reasons to be worried about retirement.

Fortunately, several of the most common retirement mistakes and pitfalls are avoidable. Here are three ways many people have undermined their own retirement, and what you can learn from their mistakes:
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being broke
I noticed my son’s checking account was hovering dangerously close to zero. He has a teen account which means I have access to his information through our bank’s online portal, so I took a peek at what he had been spending his money on. After having a conversation with him to make sure something fraudulent wasn’t going on, and that he was aware he would be broke for an entire week until he got paid again, I started thinking about what that meant for him.

I had mixed emotions about the situation. On one hand, he wouldn’t be able to do anything socially with his friends like go to the movies, bowling, or the high school football game. On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for him to learn some valuable lessons.

Appreciate What You Have

Not having any discretionary funds may not be ideal for a social high school student, but it will give him some time to reflect upon his situation. He still has a roof over his head, clothes on his back, and a kitchen full of food. Being broke would allow him to think about how much worse it really could be, and think about how good he has it.
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I remember the days when I was a struggling student without much income and without much savings. I also had a great deal of debt. If a $500 car repair came up, I had to ask my parents to lend me the money. Now, things are a little more different. I’m more fortunate in that I have savings built up, I’ve paid off the credit card debt from college, and my husband and I are building a retirement nest egg. If I needed to come up with the money for that car repair, or for a $1,000 visit to the emergency room, I could.

Unfortunately, not all Americans are in that position. We all know by now that most Americans wouldn’t be able to handle such an unexpected expense. Are you among that majority here? That’s the wrong crowd to be in.

Where Do You Get Your Emergency Money?

When you run into an unexpected expense, where does the money come from? You could raise money for an unexpected expense by reducing spending in other categories, borrowing from family or friends, or using credit cards, but are these going to be enough?

All of these methods come with their own pain. Using credit cards comes with the most expensive long-term consequences obviously, especially if you can’t pay off the debt quickly. In my case, I used to borrow from my parents. And, truth to tell, if I’m in a sticky cash flow spot, I’ve asked my parents for a little help – and then promptly paid them back.

However, that doesn’t negate the fact that I should be working harder to make sure that I have the money available for emergencies without turning to other sources. It’s also a disappointing commentary on our society that even $1,000 is likely to undo many households.

Can You Handle an Emergency?

Stop a moment and think about whether or not you could handle an unexpected expense. Can you pay the $500 deductible required by your homeowner’s insurance? Would you be able to handle $800 for the purchase of a new refrigerator? If the answer is no, think about making it a goal to build your short-term emergency fund to $1,000 this year.

If you set aside $100 a month, you could meet that goal in 10 months. That’s about $5 every weekday. You can do that by cutting your cable, brown-bagging your lunch, or taking any number of small steps to cut unnecessary expenses.

What If I’m Too Broke to Save?

Do you think that you are too broke to save money? It’s hard, I know. But it’s also an excuse. In fact, I used to be one of the people who insisted that I didn’t have enough money to save.

The truth, though, is that you probably do have enough money to save – at least a little bit. The key is in making it a priority.

Americans Think They Can’t Afford to Save

Every year, many people in the country set a goal to save but plenty doesn’t think they will be able to meet the resolution. Essentially, many Americans are already admitting defeat as soon as they set the goal.

So, why do many Americans feel like they can’t save? The number one reason that consumers say they can’t save always revolves around the thinking that they don’t have sufficient income. The next biggest reason is unemployment. While a case can be made that it’s difficult to save when you are unemployed, the reality is that insufficient income probably isn’t the best reason not to save. Rather than assuming that you don’t have enough money to save, the best thing you can do is to start creating a better habit of savings.

How to Start Saving – Even If You Don’t Have Much Money

So, if you don’t have much money, what can you do to start saving? The important thing is that you just get started. Too often, we get hung up on the idea that we don’t have enough money to start saving. We end up throwing up our hands and doing nothing. I know. I’ve been there. However, it is possible to change your outlook.

In order to start saving, the first step is to identify your expenses. Are you spending on things that you don’t need to spend on? How much money do you waste each month? Be honest about the way you use your money. If you have enough to go out to eat four or five times a month, you can cut back and find a few dollars to set aside.

Build Up by Starting Small

One good way to start is to look for small ways to start saving. Can you set aside $1 a day? What about $5 a day? It doesn’t seem like a lot, but every bit helps, and the idea is to start identifying ways you can either cut your spending or make more money (or do both) so that you can save. It also helps you build a good habit. Make setting aside money a priority, and you’ll be in better shape going forward.

As you get used to saving, you can gradually increase how much you set aside until you are setting aside a more significant amount of money each month.
Don’t get caught by the myth that you are too broke to save. Remember how you’ll get to $1,000 with $5 every weekday? Heck. Even if you only set aside $10 a week, it’s great because you are making progress. You likely need to increase that down the road, but as a starting point, any small amount is better than nothing.

old bmw 528i
Was this title just click-bait? Absolutely not. This is indeed an article that will enable you to add quite a bit of value to your car – for less than a Benjamin. How do I know? Because I’ve done this process to multiple cars (I did my most recent car yesterday).

When focusing on our finances, it’s important to make the most of your investment. An investment can mean stocks. An investment can be in the form of food – to give you energy so you can work hard. And investment can be in the form of putting money into a tangible object in order to increase its value. That’s the type of investment we’ll be working with today. We are looking at how to fix up your car so it’ll be worth more when you sell.

Before I dive in, I want to take this chance to let you know that the following process isn’t for the lazy. It takes hours and hours to do the following. So really, it’s best to not do this unless you’re willing to work. Furthermore, if you hate working on cars (or finding someone else to do it) and your time is very valuable, then it also doesn’t make much sense to follow along with this post. Your car also needs to be a bit tired. If your car is in perfect condition right now, this post will be of little help to you. For the rest of you though, I think you’ll find everything you’re about to read very handy. Let’s get going.
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Wouldn’t it be a dream come true to be away living in some remote small-town while experiencing a different part of the world every few months? I work from home full time. And to be honest, everything from international travel to simply moving to a larger city has crossed my mind. If we didn’t have kids, I think I would definitely give the digital nomad life a go.

A couple of days ago, my neighbor moved to Turkey for a two-year stint. And while I bet the job offer was extremely enticing to lure him to go there, I wonder what I would do if I was given the opportunity. For starters, the first question I would try to figure out was:

What is the Immediate Impact on Income?

Obviously, the headline salary number needs to be higher than my current income. However, we’ll also have to factor in insurance and other benefits. Will those be paid for by his employer? Could health insurance be even more expensive than what we are paying in the states?

The prospective job may pay a higher salary but require payroll deductions for insurance or have fewer other perks. Secondly, my wife doesn’t work so there’s no impact on her income but many families are dual-income families. If one person relocates, how will that affect the second income? Families will need to consider how long it will take for the second income to get back up to speed. In the meantime, would the family be able to live on one income for a few months at the very least?
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I wrote about how contentment is the ultimate financial principle that everyone should have earlier in the year. Being content with your situation, the stuff you already own, and the career you already have are amazing skills to practice but do not confuse contentment with complacency.

Being content with what you have doesn’t mean you can simply sit back and wait for life to happen to you. There’s a difference between feeling satisfied and happy with what you have and simply giving up.
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