If you feel like you're working harder than ever, it might be the case.
At 155.2 million people strong, the American workforce produced 1.1 percent more during the second quarter this year than it did in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, how do you make your hard-earned money work for you? As Labor Day approaches, here are some tips to make the fruits of your labor last longer:
- Pay yourself first. Always contribute to a 401(k) plan if your employer offers it. "You would be shocked at the amount of people that don't because they don't think they can afford it," says R.J. Montes, Dupaco's assistant vice president and manager of the Pennsylvania Avenue branch in Dubuque. "If their employer is willing to match, that's free money they're throwing away."
- Diversify your earnings. Put away retirement savings in a Roth IRA, too. And establish a savings account, even if it's as little as $5 or $10 a paycheck. "It will create a habit. And maybe a few months or a year down the road, you might be able to start putting another $5 a paycheck into the account," Montes says.
- Automate your savings. With any savings account, have the money automatically and systematically transferred from each paycheck. "Then it's out of sight, out of mind," Montes says. "It takes us out of the norm of making excuses for why we can't save."
- Review your budget. Reevaluate your spending habits. Identify areas where you can cut spending and reallocate those funds to savings accounts. For example: Set a goal to eat out half as much each week; eliminate or limit your soda and coffee purchases; never shop on an empty stomach; and always stick to a shopping list.
- Shop around. At least annually, shop around to ensure that you're receiving the best insurance quotes – from homeowners to renters to auto insurance. You might be paying more than you need to.
- Improve your score. Learn what makes up your credit score, and always work toward improving it. A high credit score equates to better insurance and loan rates, among other things.
By Emily Kittle