Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, like American Express, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
A few years ago, after blowing out 30 candles on my birthday cake, I decided it was time to take my finances seriously. In my 20s, I made a lot of mistakes, from keeping cash in a low-interest savings account to not investing much in any kind of retirement account.
Since turning 30, I’ve done everything possible to become smarter about my money, from reading books and listening to podcasts to meeting with all different kinds of financial advisers. I kept hearing the same thing from a lot of the people I met with: Rich people make smart money moves that help them get richer and richer.
I wanted to know what these tricks were. What kind of knowledge did they have or did they have access to with their financial advisers that most people don’t? That’s what led me to Anderson Lafontant, a Certified Financial Planner who works with high net-worth families to create customized plans around wealth management, asset protection, and estate and business planning. After picking her brain, I discovered these savings tips I’d never thought about before.
Treat your cash like you’re running a business
I’ve never been very good at sticking to a budget because I never knew how to set one that made sense. I’d set really unrealistic goals and always spend more than I planned. But Lafontant advises her clients to think about it differently.
“Understanding the household income and expenses, similar to a business might, lines you up to save (and then invest) like a business might as well. A nice saying to live by is, ‘Save early, save often, and save more (as a percentage) as time goes on,'” says Lafontant.
This advice helped me look at my life like a small business. I set up a spreadsheet that tracked how much money I was bringing in every month and how much was going out, which allowed me to manage my savings goals a little more accurately. Hearing her say that she advises wealthy clients to save early and often made me think that finding a budget I can stick to will help me achieve savings goals that can then propel me forward into a stronger financial future.
Diversify with smart investments
As a rookie in the investment world (only putting cash into a handful of stocks) I was curious to know where those with million-dollar portfolios are putting their money when they invest.
Lafontant advised me to look out for investment vehicles with high fees, or ones that are traded less efficiently, as those can eat away at your nest egg.
“This is especially true over a long timeframe. For our clients, we use exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as a type of investment vehicle that trades in a tax-efficient manner while investing in the market. It also generally comes with a lower annual fee,” says Lafontant. “Being smart about taxes and fees can be one of the most important money saving tips of them all.”
Even for someone like me who isn’t investing millions (more like a few thousand), those fees can start to add up over time, and this advice at least made me more aware of them.
Look into proper insurance
As my life slowly expands and I find myself about to get married, the idea of insurance has become a hot topic in our household. We wondered if rich people have insurance or if they just save up their cash and wait for something to happen and pay out of pocket.
Lafontant cautioned against the latter, saying mistakes can and will probably happen one way or another over a lifetime.
“Avoiding the ‘death blows’ life throws at us is one way to keep more money in your pocket over the long run,” says Lafontant. “Having the proper insurance coverage (life, health, homeowners, etc.) may be a negative on the balance sheet now, but could help save you in the unpredictable times.”
Max out retirement vehicles
I didn’t truly start funding my retirement account until I turned 30, and I’m now doing it slowly and steadily, putting in only a little bit every month.
Lafontant made me question that approach, especially if I start to make more money over the years.
“Avoiding taxes through investment vehicles with tax-deferred status is a massive way to save over a lifetime,” says Lafontant. “A goal would be to save enough to max out your workplace 401(k) and then your IRAs (and HSAs if you have one). While you generally cannot access these funds until retirement, deferring taxes until then helps our clients keep more money in their pockets.”
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.