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Secret to long-term success: Spend less, invest wisely

Rethink your values related to money. Simplify your life. Focus on what is important in your life and the lives of those you love. 

When you get caught up in your lifestyle you often fail to realize the amount of money you are spending on things that don’t even fit into your value system. Focusing on ways you can cut back financially will help you turn things around and get started on a life-long journey of prudent spending and long-term investing. 

To begin a life of frugality consider the ideas listed below.

1. Stop unnecessary shopping (in person and online).

2. Curb charging on credit cards.

3. Limit use of debit cards for purchases.

4. Keep good records of your checking account.

5. Set a budget and stick to it.

6. Maintain expense records of daily and weekly spending by category.

7. Use coupons and discounts available. Use sale ads.

8. Look for lowest prices on necessary items.

9. Maintain and use a grocery list. Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry.

10. Be flexible with brands and consider generics.

11. Plan meals in advance.

12. Pay bills online.

13. Preserve energy in your home by turning out lights, washing clothes in cold water, lowering thermostat in winter and raising it in summer.

14. Limit borrowing and don’t trade in a car for a newer one before it is paid for.

15. Sell unneeded items.

16. Work toward becoming debt free.

17. Impose a spending moratorium.

By practicing the steps above and others you can become a person who earns money, managing to keep a large portion of it and spend less than you make. Distinguishing between needs and wants is crucial. Cut back in every area by spending less and saving more.

After  reducing spending it is important to begin investing wisely. You can start out small and increase as time goes by. Some ideas are listed below.

1. Have a savings plan .

2. Participate in savings plan offered by your employer.

3. Sign up for payroll deductions for investing.

4. Save change and small bills daily by emptying your pockets or purse.

5. Build an emergency fund.

6. Establish a budget.

7. Set short-term and long-term savings goals.

8. Take advantage of employer matches to the fullest to save for retirement.

9. Start saving for retirement early in your career.

10. Decide on your priorities in life.

11. Familiarize yourself with various types of savings accounts and investment opportunities.

12. Take an assessment to determine what kind of investor you are. Update every few years as your lifestyle changes.

13. Find an experienced investment/financial representative to assist and advise you.

Sometimes the first step is the hardest but it is important to get started, the sooner the better. No matter where you are in your financial journey, it is possible to turn around spending and start saving.

None of the tactics listed above will accomplish your goal alone but together they will help you to more quickly than you may think possible to get headed in the right direction. Some are easy and others more difficult.

You will find yourself spending less and saving more than you ever have and preparing for a bright future. The rewards are many. You will be happier and more fulfilled.

Money won’t save itself. You may be telling yourself that you can’t afford to save. The fact is you can’t afford not to save. 

If you keep putting off making changes until tomorrow it may never happen and you will find yourself in an emergency situation, planning for retirement or other life events unprepared and woefully short of funds. There is no better time to begin than today.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.