If you want to earn more, a good place to start is with your habits. The sooner you establish smart ones, the better your chances of building wealth.
Here are eight simple habits you can adopt today that will help make 2019 a more lucrative year.
Automate your finances
If your financial plan isn’t on auto-pilot, change that up, says self-made millionaire David Bach. Automating your finances — or, having your money sent directly to investment accounts, savings accounts and creditors — allows you to build wealth effortlessly.
It’s “the one step that virtually guarantees that you won’t fail financially,” Bach writes in his No. 1 New York Times best-seller “The Automatic Millionaire.” “You’ll never forget a payment again — and you’ll never be tempted to skimp on savings because you won’t even see the money going directly from your paycheck to your savings accounts.”
Invest your ‘spare change’
Investing is one of the most effective ways to build wealth and, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lot of money to get started. In fact, thanks to micro-investing apps such as Acorns, you can start with your “spare change.” That app will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically put any spare change to work.
Other apps also aim to make investing simple and accessible, and automated investing services known as robo-advisors can work for you, no matter how much you have in the bank.
The key takeaway: Start investing sooner rather than later to take full advantage of compound interest.
Increase your 401(k) contributions
On the topic of investing, another easy way to dip your toes in is to contribute to your 401(k) plan if your company offers one. The more you can set aside, the better, but at minimum try to contribute enough to get the full employer match. It’s essentially free money.
Next, work towards increasing your contributions consistently, either every six months, at the end of the year or when you get a bonus or a raise.
Check online to see if you can set up “auto-increase,” which allows you to choose the percentage you want to increase your contributions by and how often. This way, you won’t forget to up your contributions, or talk yourself out of setting aside a larger chunk.
Save and invest unexpected cash
Pretend that extra money, such as a birthday check, bonus or any windfall, doesn’t exist.
Get in the habit of putting surprise cash, even if it’s just that $20 bill you found in your coat pocket, to work. Apply it to student loans, credit card debt, your emergency fund or an investment account. It’ll add up.
Plus, establishing this habit early on will help you avoid lifestyle inflation when you get more surprise cash in the form of a raise.
Hang out with high-achievers
The community you immerse yourself in matters. In fact, it could affect your net worth, says Steve Siebold, self-made millionaire and author of “How Rich People Think”: “In most cases, your net worth mirrors the level of your closest friends. … We become like the people we associate with, and that’s why winners are attracted to winners.”
Track your spending
You can’t build wealth if more money is leaving your wallet than coming in. To ensure you’re earning more than you’re spending, track your daily expenses.
There are a handful of apps that will do this for you, such as Mint or Personal Capital. You can also use a spreadsheet on your computer or simply record your everyday purchases in a notebook or on your phone.