Tags: You | Smart | Money | Invest

Are You Smart With Your Money?

Are You Smart With Your Money?
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Trevor Gerszt By Monday, 15 May 2017 02:27 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

If you ask the average American what their money management skills are like, they’ll probably tell you that they’re not great. A lot of people consider themselves to be bad with money. They have little or no idea how to save, how to invest, or, most importantly, how to prepare for the future. How does this happen? And what can you do to get past it and start building up a nest egg?

The Money Trust Experiment

Researchers at Harvard and other institutions recently conducted a study to see how Americans react when presented with money. After offering subjects a predetermined sum, they gave them the option to distribute it between two different bank accounts, as they saw fit. Both accounts offered the same interest rate, but one allowed the user to withdraw the money whenever they wanted, while the other contained early withdrawal penalties, embargos on withdrawal for a certain period of time, and other safeguards to keep them from dipping into it unless they really needed it.

The results of the experiment were that participants put, on average, between 39% and 56% of their money into the safeguarded accounts—and the higher the safeguards, the more money they put there. What’s more, in a follow-up experiment, the researchers made the interest rate for the “safe” accounts 1% lower than the one with easy access. Still, subjects ended up putting about 25% of their money into those accounts. In otherwise, they sacrificed the opportunity to make more money in exchange for the opportunity not to access part of the money they had.

What does this mean? It indicates that Americans know they should be saving money, but don’t trust themselves to do so effectively. When allowed to access their money freely, they’re afraid they’ll be tempted to spend it on things they don’t need, and end up with nothing to save for the future. So instead, they choose to impose limits that will force them to save, even if that means sacrificing more potential earnings. After all, what good is a higher interest rate if you spend all your money before it has a chance to accrue?

Problems With Saving

If you look around, the results of this experiment aren’t too surprising. The notion that the average American is bad with money has plenty of evidence to support it. 34% of American adults have no money in savings at all, while a further 28% have less than $1,000 saved up.

Even among those who make more money, saving it proves difficult. 44% of Americans making between $100,000 and $149,000 a year have less than $1,000 in savings. When faced with statistics like that, it becomes clear that the problem is not that people don’t make enough money to be able to save, but simply that they aren’t smart about handling the money they do make.

Handling Money Smartly

Talking about who’s “good with money” and who’s “bad with money” can make it sound like a gift that you’re either born with, or you’re not. The secret to saving effectively, though, is being smart with your money—and that’s something that can be learned.

There are a myriad of things you can do to be smarter about money. The first is simply to track your spending, to see where, exactly, your money goes and determine where you can make cuts or changes. Then, make a budget that covers all necessary expenses while eliminating anything deemed wasteful or frivolous.

The next step is to get yourself out of debt. Pay your mortgage, all your credit cards, any outstanding student loans, and anything else that you may owe. Consolidate what you can, to make your debt easier to manage, and make more than just the minimum monthly payments. Check the budget you made to see how much you can afford to pay, and do that. The sooner you get your debt paid off, the less interest you’ll owe, and the more you’ll save in the long run.

And when you do start saving up and building your nest egg, be smart about that too. Contribute a portion of your paycheck to a 401(k), which will be invested, in order to grow more over time. But don’t stop there. The markets can be volatile, and even if you invest smartly, stocks can plummet without warning, as happened in the 2008 crash, leaving you with nothing.

Because of this, it’s important to diversify your investments to include a safe haven. A gold or silver IRA isn’t subject to the volatility of the stock markets. As physical commodities, gold and silver resist inflation, retaining their value over time. Therefore, in the event your stock investments do lose their value, you still have something to fall back on, and keep you from losing everything.

You don’t need to lock your money away from your own access in order to protect it for the future. You don’t need to give up any accrued interest on your investments in order to keep yourself from the temptation of spending instead of saving. All you need is to be smart. By handling your money smarter and saving what you can, you can better prepare yourself for the future—whether or not you’re “good with money.”

Trevor Gerszt is America's Gold IRA Expert, CEO of Goldco Precious Metals, and holds a position on the Los Angeles board of the Better Business Bureau.

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If you ask the average American what their money management skills are like, they'll probably tell you that they're not great. A lot of people consider themselves to be bad with money.
You, Smart, Money, Invest
Monday, 15 May 2017 02:27 PM
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