When it comes to saving money, there are a lot of places you can start. Not all of them are equal. If you want to know where to start saving money, this is the article for you. It’ll give you the 3 best places to start saving money.
1. Emergency Fund
If you don’t already have one, the first type of account you should have is an emergency fund. According to Consumer Finance.gov, an emergency fund is a cash reserve that’s specifically set aside for unplanned expenses or financial emergencies. Some common examples include car repairs, home repairs, medical bills, or a loss of income.
Emergency funds are meant to be used on unplanned emergencies like a car or home repairs, medical bills, and loss of income. Most importantly, this fund gives you the confidence to save money in other accounts, like Roths and 401ks, without needing to withdraw from those in the event of an emergency.
2. Employer Retirement Plans
Employer plans like 401ks, 403b, 457, SEP, SIMPLE, and other retirement plans are the next best place to save money because it’s automated. Money is automatically taken out of your paycheck every time you get paid. That means you’re paying yourself first, which is key to getting ahead. These accounts are especially important if they offer a match. That’s free money. Whether you put it in pre or post-tax depends on current tax law, your current and projected future tax brackets, and your goals.
3. Taxable Investment Accounts
This is my Achilles heel. I’ve not always been good about saving money in a taxable account that can be invested. Many people I talk with don’t even know that you can invest in an account that isn’t for retirement. But you can. By opening a taxable investment account, you can buy index funds or stocks and bonds and save for future purchases. If you plan on retiring before age 55 or 59 1/2, you can use withdrawals from a taxable investment account as an income bridge until you can withdraw money from your retirement accounts without penalty.*
You might be thinking – wait what? No Roths? Yes, Roths are great investment vehicles. But you can usually save post-tax in your employer retirement plans. And Roths would be #4 for me if I had a #4. But there are many places to save.
There are a lot of different places you can save money. Not all of them are equal. If you’re new to saving and investing, start with an emergency fund. When you’ve established that, start putting money in your employer-based retirement plan. For larger ticket goals, or to retire before your mid to late 50s, save money in a taxable investment account. These are the 3 best places to start saving money.
*There are ways to withdraw money from retirement accounts prior to 55 (457/403b) or 59 1/2 (IRA/Roth/401ks) and not pay a penalty. Talk to your advisor for details.