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5 Things You Can Do with $5 (Or More) a Week to Improve Your Future

by Jackie Beck

5 things you can do with $5 a week to improve your futureAt the end of Wednesday’s post I urged folks to go now and get started “doing something with $5 (or more) a week to help out future you.” Well, here are 5 things you can do with that money:

1. Make an extra payment toward your debt.

Many lenders will allow you to make multiple payments each month toward your debt. Just be sure that you’re having that extra $5 a week go toward principal, and not toward reducing the amount you’ll be required to pay next month or toward deferring a payment. The quicker you get a debt paid off, the quicker you’ll have money available to do other things with. (Interested in tracking your debt snowball? Check out the Pay Off Debt app.)

2. Build up your emergency fund.

Every little bit helps. I have my emergency fund at ING Direct and it’s super easy to transfer a little bit extra to it right from my linked checking account. (Their accounts are also very easy to set up if you don’t have an account for your emergency fund set up somewhere already. You basically click the Open Account link, choose the kind of account you want to open (savings, in this case), click OPEN NOW, and then follow the prompts.)

3. Start an IRA.

If you don’t already have an IRA, consider opening one. (And if you’ve got one already, consider adding a little bit more to it.) There is no minimum amount required to start an IRA, so you can in fact open one with $5. Some funds have minimum purchase amounts, which can confuse people into thinking that they can’t start an IRA until they have a certain amount of money saved up, but that isn’t the case at all. You can decide what to invest in after you get it open. I have my IRA with Zecco, but you can open them many, many other places too. (Confused about what an IRA is? Read demystifying IRAs for more info.)

4. Sign up for a 401k.

If your employer offers a 401k plan (and you’re already maxing out a Roth IRA) it’s a good thing to participate in. (This is also the case if your employer offers a match on the money you put into your 401k.) Signing up is usually just a matter of filling out a form. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, ask your HR department or the person who hired you. If you make $32,000 a year and are single, a 1% contribution to your 401k will result in about a $5 drop in a weekly paycheck. If you’re already participating, increase the amount you’re contributing by 1% or more.

5. Teach your child good financial habits.

If you’re a parent, you can improve both your own and your child’s future by teaching them good financial habits now. Give them an allowance, and require that they save, spend, invest, and give a portion of it each week. Or if they’ve got a job, require that they do the same with that money. Remember to talk to them about why they’re to do each of those things, too. Not only will this empower them and give them a solid foundation for the future, it’ll save you money over the long run. You’ll be able to require that they start paying for the things they want now, and you’ll be able to say “No, I won’t pay for that” to other things with less (or no) guilt. (Especially if that “no” is phrased in the form of, “Well, let’s sit down and figure out how you might be able to do that by planning ahead.)

So what are you waiting for? Go help out future you with $5 (or more) a week!

Posted in Money Management on 09.07.12 with 12 comments.

12 Responses to “5 Things You Can Do with $5 (Or More) a Week to Improve Your Future”

  • So my $5/week Starbucks habit isn’t a sound investment? Darn…

    When I find myself with an unexpected surplus, I also try to do something positive with it. One option you didn’t mention – donating to a charity. A tax write-off and a great way to pay it forward!

  • Jackie says:

    Donating to charity is a great way to both help others and feel good about yourself. It may or may not end up being something you deduct though.

  • Jerry says:

    That’s really great to know about the IRA. I didn’t know you could do it for such a low amount. Investing in yourself and your retirement is setting up our own insurance. Because Social Security may not be there for all of us so we need to take care of ourselves. It leads to being more proactive and focused on your future.

  • You forgot ice cream. Ice cream is a really good way to use $5. :) Yours are good, too, but that’s what I recently used a five on.

  • Shawn James says:

    Using big amount in different fields to maximize it is common but using small amount like $5 to improve future is really amazing idea. Thanks Jackie to capture our attention regarding this.

    According to me, “Build up your emergency fund” and “Start an IRA” is the best tips to utilize $5. Even you can invest $5 in forex trading as well. There are some brokers which allow to trading with small amount.

  • I think if someone can make extra $5 per week after reading this, they can very well earn extra few bucks in a year or two. A side gig or a second job can take you a long way towards getting rid of debt.

  • Fox says:

    I like your number 5 tip. I started training my 2 little children about responsible spending when they were 5 years old. I made them aware of the responsibilities of spending the right way and hoping they bring the lessons along them as they mature.

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