All of us work for money. Unless you’re living in some part of the world that’s untouched by modern civilization or part of some cult or group that lives in total isolation or lives off charity, we all require money to live. We need money to meet our basic needs, and a few wants.
While most people work- either on jobs, side-gigs or businesses to make money, a few of us actually know how to make our money work for us. Yes, you can actually make your money work for you. When you make your money work properly, it grows. This helps you become richer as your individual or household net worth increases over a period of time.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t make our money work for us. The reason is simple and straight: we don’t really save enough every month that would help us to make our money work for us.
Let’s, therefore, take a look at the average savings rates among American individuals and households.
Savings of American Households
This might come as a shocker to most of you. The average savings rate per household in the US is a measly 5.1 per cent of the total income in the second half of 2021. That means Americans spend as much as 95 per cent of their income and save a little above five per cent every year. Some Americans don’t have savings at all.
According to Zippia.com, some 42 per cent of all Americans had less than $1,000 as savings in 2022. The average savings balance account of Americans is $4,500 only. About 25 million US citizens have no savings at all, while 58 per cent of Americans have less than $5,000 in savings.
Surprisingly, only 71 per cent of Americans have a savings account at banks or credit unions or any other financial services providers. This means, close to one-third of Americans are outside the main financial stream.
Add to this the fact that 11.6 percent, or about 37.9 million American citizens, live below the poverty line.
The low savings rate means that most Americans can’t actually make their money work. Or, at least, they believe so. However, it’s possible to make even a small amount of money work for you.
In this article, I will speak about how to boost your savings and make money for you.
Use the 50-30-20 Rule
If you have very little savings, there’s no need to worry. You can always boost them by bringing self-discipline to your spending habits. The 50-30-20 rule was created by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Since then, it has become a benchmark for many Americans to start saving money and getting richer.
In her book, ‘All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan,” Elizabeth Warren proposes that 50 per cent of your income, after paying taxes, should go to meeting your needs. These include food, clothing, shelter, mortgage, education and other necessities.
The remaining 50 per cent is divided into two parts: the 30 per cent is for your wants, such as vacations, buying a new car or phone and other stuff. These are not really necessary but can prove useful because, without them, our lives would become boring and, sometimes, meaningless.
The balance of 20 per cent should be stashed away as your savings. Most of you might believe this to be impossible. Therefore, I will assure you that saving at least 20 per cent of your income is easy and possible. It needs lots of self-discipline in your spending habits and some effort to see where your money is being drained. I can assure you that there’re several places where you’re wasting money.
Therefore, the first way to make your money work for you is by stopping this useless waste. Let’s find some of the ways to prevent this financial haemorrhage in our lives.
How To Stop Wasting Money?
There’re several ways to stop wasting precious, hard-earned money with some effort. You can try all these ways, and over a few months, you will surely notice that savings have risen manifold.
Getting started might seem difficult at the beginning. However, later you will thank yourself for taking these tough steps when you have a fat bank account, a portfolio of investments and a secure future.
Here’re some time-tested and proven ways to save money. That way, it’s possible to have enough cash to make your money work for you.
1. Eliminate Useless Subscriptions
On average, Americans spend $219 per month on subscriptions without realizing that this money is going to waste. This adds to a whopping $2,628 per year. Despite such huge spending, you don’t actually use these services much.
Some of the most common subscriptions include mobile, Internet and cable TV, ranking among the top three, followed by streaming videos and music services, Amazon Prime and other digital stuff. If you examine your own TV or movie-watching habits, it would be easy to find that most of the subscriptions to those premium channels are going to waste.
2. Cut the Cord
Most Americans are now cutting the cord- meaning they’re eliminating their cable TV subscriptions in favor of live streaming services such as Hulu TV and others.
This is helping them save some money. Unfortunately, the same Americans that cut the cord to save on cable TV are splurging their savings on streaming services. Though streaming services cost lesser, they’re still a waste because nobody can view all channels or listen to each station.
3. Abandoned Gym Memberships
Americans wasted a combined $397 million on abandoned gym memberships in 2022. This happens when you join a gym resolving to get fit and healthy. However, work and other domestic tasks keep us busy and that gym membership is forgotten and expires.
This is another waste of precious money. An individual American spends about $1,860 per fitness and related services and products. Sadly, most of this money is lost since people lose interest quite quickly.
4. Eating Out & Booze
Eating out or dining out was found as the largest expense for most – about 68.89 per cent of a group of respondents. They said dining out was the biggest expense from their monthly income.
The second was said to be liquor, with 25.42 per cent of the 2,000 respondents saying they wasted a lot of money on booze. Then there’re other places where we waste money on tobacco, weed where legal, and unreturned items from online stores.
Also Read: How To Get Free Food in 20 Simple Ways
5. Lack of Budgeting
One of the biggest ways most Americans waste money is due to a sheer lack of budgeting. They don’t plan their expenses and often end up spending more on certain things, including essentials such as food or clothing.
Then we have lots of people that buy useless stuff simply because they wish to try something new. The lack of budgeting leaves you spending more on certain things and then being stuck with lesser cash for the more important stuff. This phenomenon affects a lot of people. You can try using free budgeting apps to overcome this problem.
Oniomania is another name for Compulsive Shopping Disorders. Yes, shopping is also an addiction for a few people. Some people shop simply because it gives them a sort of a kick or thrill, the same way alcoholics consume large volumes of booze or drug addicts take huge quantities of their substance.
They buy things without the need and often borrow large sums of money to meet their cravings to shop. Sometimes, they indulge in crimes to get money. Compulsive shopping- especially online shopping- has reached such levels across the world often, addicts need professional care through psychiatrists and rehab centers. The oniomania victim, as well as their families, often face a cash crunch.
7. Credit Card APR
Having a credit card is good. It helps you to develop a good credit score if you’re paying off regularly. Most Americans buy everything on credit cards due to the convenience they offer. As a matter of fact, Americans have an average of four credit cards, according to a CNBC report. While there’re no upper limits on the number of credit cards you own, they can land you in serious financial problems. In the year 2023, credit card delinquencies or default on payments are expected to reach an all-time high, according to TransUnion.
Credit cards come loaded with something known as Annual Purchase Rate. That is, you’ve to pay a certain amount of money as APR, which is another name for interest. This interest is charged when you don’t pay the full amount and settle the bill and instead, pay only the minimum required sum. This APR accumulates and accrues more and more interest. Sometimes, you could end up paying twice or thrice the price of the stuff you bought on a credit card if you’re not careful.
8. Unwillingness to Earn Extra
Next on my list are people that’re unwilling to earn extra money by working for a few hours more during the week. This is possible through freelancing and side gigs. In fact, people that work outside their office hours or work hours are more financially stable than those who don’t do such work.
The US is home to about 53 million freelancers- the single largest such workforce in the world. Also, there’re several opportunities in the US to find all sorts of side-gigs for those with skills as well as those that don’t have any special skills. These facts prove that the US economy can provide adequate income to all that’re willing to exert some extra effort.
Unwillingness to work for a few extra hours daily is also one of the reasons you might not have enough savings to make money work for you.
Extra Income & Savings Are Important
The above facts prove that extra income and savings are extremely important if you want to make your money work for you. At the same time, persons that save significantly less money can also make their money grow.
However, when you save money that’s otherwise wasted on unnecessary stuff, or you make more money through extra efforts, you have more money. And as the rule of money goes: the more money you have, the more you can invest and make it grow.
If you want to make your money work for you, here’re some best ways. These will help you build wealth over a period of time and could possibly ensure you’re never short of cash, even after retirement.
Ways to Make Your Money Work For You
These tips and tweaks to make your money work for you are legit and hence, you can use them without any fear or hesitation. In fact, all these ways are time-tested and proven. By using these properly, you can amass a real fortune. All it takes is some extra time and your sincere efforts.
These tips and tweaks are also useful if you have some small amount of money as savings and are willing to make it work for you. I can assure you that once you see the money growing, your savings might also increase.
1. Use Investment Apps
There’re apps such as Acorns and Robinhood, among others, that you can easily download and use to make your money grow. I suggest these apps to everyone who’s fresher to invest as well as those who have lesser money to invest. You can start investing through these apps for as less as $5.
With these investment apps, you can invest in stocks, Exchange Traded Funds, Mutual Funds, foreign currencies and lots more. Some of these apps also offer a welcome bonus of $5 to $10 when you fund the account and make the first investments. Others gift you a free stock itself. These apps can make your small amounts of money grow.
2. Stock Trading
The best way to make your money work for you is through stock trading. American billionaire Warren Buffett bought just three stocks of a company when he was only 11 years old. Today, he’s a major player in stock markets in the US, and a lot of his wealth comes from these shareholdings.
Obviously, stock trading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea or ballgame. You need a good study on the movement of stock prices and some knowledge of how stock markets work as well as factors that affect stocks. Armed with these, you can invest in stocks and make your money work for you in a superb way.
2. Mutual Funds
If you’re reluctant to study stocks and stock markets but want a simpler option to invest in these, put your money on some superb mutual funds. There’re different types of mutual funds available in the US financial markets from some of the topmost Asset Management Companies in the country.
Mutual funds are a basket of stocks or debt instruments or annuities, and other such financial assets. They pay rich dividends. Your risk is low because mutual funds are always managed by an expert in the field known as the fund manager. You can hold on to your mutual funds for a long, and they will definitely pay you superb returns.
3. Exchange Traded Funds
Exchange Traded Funds or ETFs are also mutual funds but with a difference. Mutual funds by themselves aren’t traded on the stock market daily. However, ETFs are a basket of stocks or debt and other instruments that are traded on the stock exchanges daily. Hence, their prices vary.
You can buy and sell ETFs of your choice and make a decent profit to make your money work for you. However, trading on ETFs also requires some studies about the industries whose stocks form their baskets. You can easily find this information online from AMCs that offer ETFs and other resources.
The US government issues several sovereign bonds to raise funds. And they pay superb interest too. As a citizen, you too can invest in US bonds to make your money work for you. Generally, government bonds are considered a very safe investment. Other than the interest, you also get some bonuses when the bond matures.
Surely, you’ve heard of Bitcoin, the single-largest and most expensive cryptocurrency in the world. Though nobody owns Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, they do have a large commercial value. People trade in them to make some money or hoard them as investments, hoping the prices will rise in future.
Buying, selling or investing in cryptos is legit in the US. As a matter of fact, there’re several crypto exchanges where you can open an account and start trading. It’s also possible to buy fragments of cryptos such as Bitcoin. Nowadays, Dogecoin is making some news after billionaire Elon Musk threw his weight behind what was once a useless cryptocurrency that began as a joke.
6. Foreign Currencies
The exchange rate of the US dollar is always going up or down. There’re several major world currencies that trade against the US dollar. These are the Euro, Pound Sterling and Japanese Yen, to name a few. Open a foreign currency trading account with any top currencies in the world.
Did you know that precious metals such as gold and silver, as well as lead and crude oil, among others, are traded around the world? Round the clock. You can trade commodities and make your money work for you too. In fact, commodities trading is a skill, and you can master that easily by taking some online lessons. This is one trade that has made many people very rich in the shortest time possible.
8. Real Estate Investment Trusts
Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs are the best alternatives to investing in real estate without owning any physically. REITs are somewhat like mutual funds. They invest in real estate projects and stocks of real estate companies. A REIT can be for properties in the USA or even abroad.
They pay rich dividends because real estate prices are always on the rise, except during times of global economic downturns. You can invest a few hundred Dollars in REITs and get a lot of returns.
Not many people consider gold an attractive investment because of lower returns compared to other assets. However, having gold in hand is similar to holding cash. You can easily sell gold anytime and get cash instantly, if necessary. In fact, you will normally get at least some more money than the price that you paid for the gold.
Hence, your money has worked for you. Sometimes, the value of gold goes through the roof and can fetch excellent returns. This usually happens when stock markets crash, or there’s a global or national recession. Gold is a safe investment.
10. Gold Bonds
There’re several financial institutions in the USA that also offer gold bonds. This means you’re buying a bond worth a specific amount of gold at that time. A gold bond is often issued for a single gram of precious yellow metal.
The price of a bond, when issued, is usually lower or equal to the market price of the gold at that point in time. However, gold bonds pay you in two ways. Firstly, you get an annual or bi-annual interest on your bonds. Secondly, you get the full market value of gold when you redeem the bond after a few years. This is an ideal option for investing in gold.
11. Wines & Liquor
Who would think of wines and liquor as a form of investment? As a matter of fact, they’re excellent assets that can fetch you a lot of money unless you decide to drink up that bottle or rare vintage wine or select fine and aged whisky or bourbon. Investing in wines and liquor isn’t something new.
It works in a very simple way. You buy vintage and rare wines from the market or auctions and store them for several years. This allows the price to rise because the wine or liquor matures further. Since these are rare, buyers will pay a higher price to own a bottle, either for their own consumption or as an investment.
12. Vice Investing
Nowadays, there’s a trend known as vice investing. This is perfectly legit in the US. If you’re serious about making your money work hard for you, I suggest you try reading about vice investing in detail from specialized websites or ask a financial consultant about the prospects.
To explain briefly, marijuana can be sold and consumed at select outlets in various states in the US. As a result, there’re several farmers that grow this crop and companies that buy and process marijuana for consumption and export. Then we have marijuana cafes coming up across different states. You can invest in stocks of companies that have interests in marijuana cultivation or mutual funds that consist of such stocks.
Next online are companies that own and invest in casinos. They, too, pay rich dividends. These casinos are either in the US or outside. They can be online or even brick-and-mortar casinos. Putting money into these kinds of ventures, such as weed and casinos, is broadly known as vice investing.
Diamonds are a woman’s best friend. Indeed, they are. Diamonds are forever. Indeed, they are. What makes diamonds a superb investment is they never really lose value and can fetch high prices later in the gems and jewellery market. Of course, you should know the types of diamonds you’re buying to make your money work for you.
This means buying only from reputed places and knowing a bit about diamond pricing. Owning diamonds is also like having cash at home. You can sell diamonds easily and get cash quickly if there’s any need or emergency.
Antiques are also like having cash on hand. They are available everywhere, online and offline. Or, you might have some antiques at home as well. There’s a huge market in the US and worldwide for antiques.
These could include anything from genuine antique furniture to antique appliances such as the oldest cameras and gramophones. Stuff made by companies that ceased to exist long ago is also considered antiques. They’re worth a lot of money.
Making your money work for you isn’t difficult. Nor does it mean that you should have thousands or millions of Dollars. As I mentioned above, even $5 is enough to launch you on an investment journey in the American stock exchanges.
You could decide on the best ways to invest and make your money grow by working for you. If necessary, take help from a financial consultant or even a robo-advisor from a bank or financial institution. Read a lot on investing and ways to invest correctly to make your money work for you.