Sometimes financial advice sounds like science fiction. Saving for retirement with IRAs and 401(K) plans aren’t going to make anyone rich. The market is too choppy. What’s more, since the 2008 debacle, employees are saving less and dipping into their retirement accounts more to make ends meet. Anemic interest rates haven’t helped. On average, savings balances in IRAs and 401(k)s have fallen from $102,682 to $96, 288. (“Fast Takes,” Money.com, August 2016, pg. 16. )
Everyone who earns a paycheck knows sometimes it’s impossible to tuck away 10% of income, as experts recommend. Some opportunities do exist to bring in extra cash, however, if you’re willing to sell personal data. (“When to Sell Your Secrets,” by Kara Brandelsky, Money.com, August 2016, pg. 24.) Many wellness programs offer incentives, for example, if you take a physical or answer a health questionnaire. Sometimes an employer will offer further incentives to encourage you to reach benchmarks. Managers of these surveys can’t use your health records in employment decisions but as, writer Kara Brandelsky warns, expect to get nagged if you fail to show an improvement toward your goals.
If you allow certain automobile insurers to plug a device into your car’s dashboard to monitor driving habits, the companies will reduce premiums by 5% as long as you prove to be a save driver. The downside is obvious. Insurers can increase rates if you prove to be an unsafe driver and records can be subpoenaed if you get into an accident. (Ibid pg. 24.) A less invasive way to save on car insurance, if you’re are retired, is to enroll in AARP’s safe driver program. Successful completion reduces your annual premiums for about 3 years, after which you’ll have to retake the course if you want to keep the reduction.
Two home insurers, American Family and Liberty Mutual will give you a 5% discount on premiums if you install Nest Protect’s “Ring.” The machine makes a video record of your home’s front door. The risk here is minimal and insurers in some states will provide the $99 device for free.
Savings from these programs won’t accumulate fast enough to make a holiday on the French Riviera possible any time soon but socked away over the years, the savings can add up like candles on a birthday cake.
(Originally published 8/8/16)