You Don’t Have To Be a Millionaire to Retire Comfortably. Here’s How To Get There

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Being a millionaire isn’t everything. Despite the glamour of it all, having seven figures in your bank account isn’t the source of all happiness — and it definitely isn’t the only way to have a comfortable retirement.

So long as you put a few hundred dollars into a retirement account each month, you could retire with a cool million yourself (we did the math!). Currently being a millionaire? Not required.

Even if you’re not in your 20’s anymore, and you haven’t started saving for retirement, it’s not too late. Start now with these smart financial moves that can grow your wealth and have you retiring in style.

1. Make Smart, Strategic Investments

The stock market averages about 7% growth each year. And while it does have its ups and downs, over time, it tends to go up. Which is why investing is such an important part of building up a retirement fund.

The problem is that sometimes it feels like investing is only for the super rich, who own shares of the world’s biggest companies.

And if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

But with an app called Stash, it doesn’t have to be. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.

That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1

It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2

Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*

2. Stop Overpaying Your Monthly Bills

Finding extra cash on the street each month would be an easy way to build up your retirement savings. But since the likelihood of that happening is pretty low, you need to go searching for that money yourself.

Start by looking at the bills you have to pay each month — are you spending more than you need to? If you haven’t looked for new car insurance in a few months, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars that would be better off in a savings account.

Here’s the thing: your current car insurance company is probably overcharging you. But don’t waste your time hopping around to different insurance companies looking for a better deal. 

Use a website called EverQuote to see all your options at once. 

EverQuote is the largest online marketplace for insurance in the US, so you’ll get the top options from more than 175 different carriers handed right to you. 

Take a couple of minutes to answer some questions about yourself and your driving record. With this information, EverQuote will be able to give you the top recommendations for car insurance. In just a few minutes, you could save up to $610 a year.

3. Grow Your Savings 16x Faster

Part of being prepared for retirement is having a good chunk of money available now, too. If you have a healthy savings account, you won’t have to worry about dipping into your retirement fund early (which can come with hefty fees!).

But you still want to make sure that money is going to grow, right? Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account won’t do you much better. (Ahem, 0.06% is nothing these days.)

But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.

Not too shabby!

Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

4. Invest in Real Estate (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire)

Take a look at some of the world’s wealthiest people. What do they have in common? Many invest in large private real estate deals. And here’s the thing: There’s no reason you can’t, too — for as little as $10.

A company called Fundrise lets you get started in the world of real estate by giving you access to a low-cost, diversified portfolio of private real estate. The best part? You don’t have to be the landlord. Fundrise does all the heavy lifting.

Fundrise’s Starter Portfolio has a minimum of only $10 and is geared toward first-time real estate investors. Your money will be invested in the company’s Flagship Fund, which already owns more than $250 million worth of real estate around the country, from apartment complexes to the red-hot housing rental market to larger last-mile e-commerce logistics centers.

Want to invest more? Fundrise offers a variety of account levels and features to fit every type of investor’s needs. Once invested, you can track your performance on Fundrise’s website and mobile app, and watch as properties are acquired, improved and operated. As tenants pay their rent, you could earn money through quarterly dividend payments, and over time, you could earn money off the potential appreciation of the property. Since 2014, Fundrise investors have earned roughly $100 million in dividends alone.

So if you want to get started in the world of real-estate investing, it takes just a few minutes to sign up and create an account with Fundrise.

*Past performance is not indicative of future results. The publicly filed offering circulars of the issuers sponsored by Rise Companies Corp., not all of which may be currently qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission, may be found at www.fundrise.com/oc.

5. Take Advantage of Your Employer’s Retirement Match

Setting aside money from your paycheck to put into your 401(k) is literally one of the smartest things you can do for your future. And if your employer matches each contribution, that could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in your account when you retire. It’s free money!

But if you can’t take advantage of this employer benefit because you need all of your paycheck every month, a company called Lendtable will give you the cash.

We know it sounds too good to be true. But if your employer has a 401(k) match program, this is money they already have earmarked for you. By using Lendtable, you’ll be able to unlock that free cash.

Let’s say you make $50k a year and your employer matches your 401(k) contribution up to 4%. If you put $0 in your retirement account this year, you get $0 from your boss. If Lendtable lends you the 4% of your salary your employer is willing to match, you get $2,000 from your boss, minus Lendtable’s fee. (This comes from the extra money you’ve earned, so there’s no sacrifice on your part.)

It takes three minutes to answer a few questions about your eligibility and sign up for an account.

Once you’ve gotten your full match amount from your employer, LendTable will take the money they lent you back, plus a small share of your profit. If there’s a penalty from your retirement account provider for taking money out, Lendtable will cover that, too.

The risk for you is basically nonexistent, so not taking advantage of your employer match with Lendtable’s offer would make Future Millionaire You bow your head in shame. Get started here.

6. Improve Your Credit Score So You Can Afford Big Life Purchases

Owning a home can be a great investment in your future — home values tend to appreciate over time, meaning the house you buy now could bring you a serious windfall when you sell it and retire to Scottsdale.

But if your credit isn’t excellent, you could be hard-pressed to find a fair interest rate on a mortgage — if you get approved for a loan at all. That’s why it’s important to stay organized and keep tabs on your credit score.

So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.

Within 90 seconds, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).

James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.

Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 

1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.

2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.

For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. 

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk. 

***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.

Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.