Spend less.

Watching what you spend on “nice-to-haves” may show you where to save. Add up what you spend on eating out, take-out coffee and food, and impulse purchases for a week. The total may be incentive to cut these things out—or limit treating yourself to just once in a while.

Save more.

A simple way to save regularly is to make it automatic. That means scheduled, regular, automatic transfers into a savings or retirement account. If the money isn’t in your checking account, you are less likely to spend it frivolously.

Invest more.

One of the best ways to give your money a chance to grow over the long term is by investing in a mix of stock mutual funds. That means being comfortable with market ups and downs. Your investment choices are as important as how much you invest.

Pay down debt.

Pay down debt with the highest interest rate first, which is usually a credit card. Consider paying more than the minimum each month. Check your credit card statement to see how long it will take to pay off the balance—and how much it will cost.

Save for an emergency.

Managing your money would be much easier if life went exactly as planned, but it seldom does. That’s why an emergency fund is essential for dealing with everything from a blown transmission to a lost job. Fidelity suggests a cash reserve to cover three to six months of expenses.


You don’t have to micromanage every penny. Look at your spending and saving in three categories—essential spending, retirement, and short-term savings. Knowing where your money is going can help make an informed decision about how to allocate it.

Save for retirement.

Aim to save at least 15% of your pretax income each year to help ensure that you can live your current lifestyle in retirement. Even upping your saving just 1% can make a big difference in what you have 20 or 30 years down the road.

Buy a home.

Before buying, carefully consider all the factors surrounding your decision. Take a step back and evaluate how much you can comfortably afford. Figuring out how owning a home fits into your budget can help you avoid any pitfalls.

Save for college.

Make the most of tax-advantaged accounts like 529 plans that let your money grow tax free. It makes a bigger difference than you might think. And saving for college in a 529 plan will have a low impact on financial aid.

Learn about finances.

Spending wisely, saving what you can, managing debt, paying bills on time, investing, and having money tucked away, can make you feel good. And knowing where your money is going may mean more money for you to enjoy what’s really important to you.