RETIREMENT TIPS: 12 Months of Smart Savings Tips

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AlanKondo-238x300By ALAN KONDO, CLU, CFP

Need help finding ways to make the most of your money all year long? Start the year right with these month-by-month saving and spending tips.

January — After-Christmas sales are a great way to stock up on holiday-themed products such as wrapping paper, candles, cards, and decorations. Most retailers reduce prices on these items by 50% or more. But don’t stop there. Many specialty and gourmet food items, and items of clothing — especially winter items like sweaters, hats, gloves, and scarves — are put on clearance racks and sold for a fraction of their original price.

February — Getting a raise? Consider adding the extra money to your retirement savings plan. Not only will the money grow tax-deferred, but the extra income will not push you up into a higher tax bracket. Alternatively, open a special account for next year’s holiday shopping or your summer vacation.

March — March is considered a low-season travel month to Europe. That’s the time of year when tourists are scarce. That means that lines will be shorter, and reservations at hotels, restaurants and attractions will be much easier to get. Normally crowded destinations such as London, Paris, and Rome are leisurely, and hotels and airfares may offer some of their lowest rates.

April — If you are among the majority of Americans who get a tax refund, consider using that money to pay down credit card debt, to make an extra principal-only payment on your mortgage, or to build the foundation of an emergency fund.

May — The Department of Energy estimates that water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home. Lowering the temperature on your hot-water heater during the summer months will help cut costs. If you take a vacation, turn off the heat and air conditioning.

June — Vegetables fresh from our garden are less expensive than canned and frozen foods — and more nutritious too! Start small — try some tomato plants or Asian vegetables that are not available in the market. (Don’t forget to water and fertilize regularly!)

July — Play sports? Buy your equipment at used sporting goods stores. From catcher’s mitts to surfboards, these stores sell their wares at a fraction of the original cost.

August — Cash in on summer clearance sales. Spruce up next summer’s wardrobe or outfit yourself for a winter cruise. Also, start pricing for Christmas shopping.

September — In September and October auto dealers try to clear their lots to make room for the next year’s models. By haggling, you may be able to shave hundreds if not thousands off a new car’s sticker price.

October — The Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling account for 50% to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Schedule a heating and cooling system tune-up, insulate your attic, replace furnace filters, and have your chimney cleaned.

November — Many charities begin active fundraising during this month. Before sending a donation to a charity, check out its reputation with the National Charities Information Bureau, or the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

December — Hopefully, you now have a few extra dollars to spare. Kick off 2016 by starting an investment. A globally-diversified portfolio of equities and bonds will help you keep up with inflation, and build future stability and security.

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The opinions expressed above are solely those of Kondo Wealth Advisors, LLC (626-449-7783, [email protected]), a Registered Investment Advisor in the state of California. Neither Kondo Wealth Advisors, LLC nor its representatives provide legal, tax or accounting advice.

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