Six of the Top 25 Ways to Save Money

Of the 25 top money savers suggested by money.cnn, these ones have the most immediate effect on your wallet. The rest are long term goals that you will need a lot of commitment and change on your part to ensure they reach the long-term goal.

1. For return on investment,

…the best home renovation is to upgrade an old bathroom. Kitchens come in second.

The return on investment on a mid-range bath modernization is 102% of its cost. Kitchens can add about 90% of their costs to the home’s value.

Another home improvement that can pay off is window replacement. Not only does this job return about 90% on investment when the house is resold, it saves on energy bills every year.

As a rule, upscale improvements pay off at lower rates than mid-range or inexpensive ones. And making a house bigger and more luxurious that those of your neighbors will also cost a lot more than they’ll return when the house is sold.

5. Never hire a roofer,

…driveway paver or chimney sweep who is going door to door.

Even if these contractors aren’t scam artists, they may lack licensing and insurance. If a worker gets hurt on your property it could wind up costing a lot more than you bargained for.

Instead, get contractor recommendations from friends, neighbors or relatives. Check references and get documentation of insurance coverage.

And don’t put more than 10% down for the job. Mete out the payments gradually as work is done and withhold the final 25% until you’re satisfied with the completed project.

12. If you’re not saving 10% of your salary,

…you aren’t saving enough.

The earlier you start saving, the less you’ll need to set aside every year to meet your goals. That’s because you allow your money more time to grow — the gains on your invested savings will build on the prior year’s gains. That’s the power of compounding, and it’s the best way to accumulate wealth.

Saving at least 10% of your annual salary for retirement is recommended, but the older you start saving, the more you’ll need to save. If you start at 50, you may need to put away 30% a year and still postpone retirement by a few years.

14. Aim to accumulate enough money

…to pay for a third of your kids’ college costs. You can borrow the rest or use some of your income to help out when your child is in college.

Most parents have trouble saving enough for their retirement. But they still want to help their children pay for college.

In the struggle to feed your 401(k) and your child’s 529, the 401(k) should win out. That’s because there are no scholarships for retirement and your children have a lot of funding options, including financial aid, loans and a job. They also can go to an excellent, but less expensive school.

And when they’re in college, if you have some extra cash after contributing to your retirement accounts, you can help them pay some of their expenses with it.

19. Anyone who calls or e-mails you

…asking for your Social Security number or information about your bank or credit card account is a scam artist.

The scam artist’s goal is to steal your money, steal your identity or both. In fact, don’t carry anything with your Social Security number on it, and don’t offer it to anyone unless it’s for tax, employment or credit purposes.

There are other ways scammers and identity thieves can get your valuable financial information – for instance, by hacking into a merchant’s system and lifting your (and hundreds of other customers’) debit card pin numbers.

So be sure to monitor online bank and brokerage accounts a few times a week, and if you see any suspicious withdrawals or charges, report it to your financial institution.

22. Resist the urge

…to buy the latest computer or other gadget as soon as it comes out. Wait three months and the price will be lower.

As with cars, electronics cost the most for those who must be first with the latest cool thing. Let the gadget freaks get their fill, then go shopping when the market has calmed.

Also, those first-in-line buyers can have the fun of discovering the annoying bugs, disappointing features and poorly designed interfaces. You can check the user reviews on C-Net and Amazon.com later to find out for yourself without having spent the money.

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