Investing can actually be very easy. Just pick a mutual fund and send in some money every so often. Even if your fund does poorly relative to others, you will be better off investing than not doing anything. Spread your funds out among a few index funds and you’ll do better than most people who spend hours pouring over web pages trying to find the best funds. (The reason is index funds have low fees, and all funds just track the market over long periods of time.)
The problem for most people, however, is trying to find the money to invest. Few people even look at their income and expenses at month’s end, let alone prepare a budget before the month begins and plan spending. If they did, most would find that there were very few dollars left at the end of the month after expenses. No wonder it is so difficult to save.
Little changes, however, could make a big difference. One thing that happens often is that people have a busy schedule and no time to cook dinner after getting home before the kids’ activities start. They then end up going out to dinner, but not really even enjoying it. A family of four can easily go through $30 for dinner at even a modest place.
One thing we love to do is put together a pot of soup or stew in a crock pot the night before. It only takes maybe 30 minutes to do – some meals are even faster. Just slip it in the refrigerator for the night, then take it out and start it in the morning on low. Crock pot cooking is very forgiving – you can usually leave it on for 12 or more hours even if it is done in 8 hours. At 5:30 when you get home you’ll have a hot meal waiting. Just make a little extra and you’ll have a couple of lunches, saving you another $10-$14. You’ll also be the envy of your office when everyone else is heating up their Lean Cuisine.
While this might not seem like much, do this once per week and you’ll save $160 per month. Do this regularly and you’ll have about $1,900 per year to invest – enough to buy 100 shares of a large number of stocks or make a hefty contribution to an IRA.
Not a big cook? The checkout stand at the supermarket probably has a magazine full of crock pot recipes. These are really easy to do – just chop some things up and throw them into the pot. Some use cans of cream soup as well. Avoid doing any recipes with a lot of steps or a lot of exotic ingredients. If you don’t like cooking, you’ll soon stop if you’re spending hours doing it.
Like a lot of things in life, it is the small lifestyle choices that can make a big difference. It can all start with a pot of soup.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice. It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.