A few days ago I did my list of 5 things I can do without, 5 areas in my life where I thought we could cut out some wasteful spending. We all overspend at one time or another, and I was able to pinpoint a few locations where I could cut back.
Today I thought I would follow that up with a look at 5 things that I can't do without. These are things that have the potential to help our bottom line and to improve our situation, not just drain our bank account. So here they are – 5 things I can't do without:
5 Things I Can't Do Without
So what are the 5 things I can't do without – things that help us to save money and improve our bottom line?
Personal Finance Software
Currently I'm using two software to keep track of our finances – and using them both seems to work pretty well. First, we use You Need A Budget at our home to keep track of all our income and expenses. Both my wife and I use the software, and it allows us to keep a zero based budget, track our 401k accounts, pay extra amounts on our mortgage or track our taxes throughout the year. Full YNAB review here.
When we're on the go we use Mint.com to track our finances on the internet. You just enter your online account information, and it will help you track account balances, see spending trends, and compare your spending to other people across the nation. When doing that we realized just how out of control our fast food spending was. We're still working on making an adjustment. Read a full review of Mint.com here.
High Yield Savings Account
Make sure you signup for a high-yield savings account, and transfer over your savings and/or emergency fund from your local bank branch's low interest checking or savings. We did this and we realized an extra savings of about 5-600 dollars a year. Not bad for just switching accounts! Unfortunately since the market is down, the interest rates on these types of accounts are down significantly, but they're often still better than your local bank. Check out the current best rates at our bank rates page.
When my wife and I sold our townhouse a few years ago, one thing we did with some of the earnings from the sale was to create an emergency fund. We have enough in that fund now to be good for 8-12 months if I was to lose my job. We don't anticipate that happening, but it is definitely good for the peace of mind to have that there. For some more discussion and details about how to build your emergency fund quick, check out this post on building an emergency fund.
I've only recently become more acquainted with our local library, and boy am I glad I did. They've got a ton of new release books, movies and CDs. I'll never need to buy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble again! Not only do most libraries have books, but most will also have tons of audio books, DVD movies, magazines and more! Also, based on a tip from a commenter, Mr Klingon, we've found that you can get tons of free audio books online as well at sites like librivox.org, gutenberg.org or audiobooksforfree.com.
Not only do they have all that, but within the past year or two many local libraries have started offering e-books for lending, so you can download and read library books on your Kindle or other e-reader. I recently was able to check out the entire Harry Potter series on my Kindle! Check out this post on where to get free e-books.
It's amazing how much money you can save when you fund your 401k before you even get the paycheck. The wonders of compounding interest never cease to amaze. The earlier you get started on your retirement account, the more you'll have later on. Trust me, you want to make sure you have one of these, especially if your employer will do a dollar for dollar match.
So there it is – a short list of things that I can't do without. I'm sure that there are more things that I could put down, but those are some of the most important. What are some things that would be in your top 5?