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3 Money Habits to Master by the Time You Turn 40

Saving money is a lifelong skill, and it’s one everyone needs to learn. Finances might not be the most exciting topic to learn about. But without a basic knowledge of how to save money and prepare for retirement, you’re more likely to struggle financially and risk retiring broke.

If your financial literacy skills aren’t the strongest, though, you’re not alone. Three-quarters of American adults over the age of 60 failed a basic financial literacy quiz, according to a survey from the American College of Financial Services, and fewer than 1% scored an A on the quiz.

However, even if you’re struggling with your money or don’t know how to start saving more, that doesn’t mean you can’t start building a strong financial foundation. But to save enough for retirement, you’ll need to jump-start your savings sooner rather than later. For a healthier financial future, there are a few money habits you should aim to master by age 40.

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1. Create financial goals (and stick to them)

Without goals, you have nothing to aim for. And if you’re blindly saving whatever you can and hoping for the best, it’s impossible to say whether you’re on track. Then if you’re not on track, you may not discover it until it’s too late to do anything about it.

You may have a variety of financial goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house, buying a new car, establishing an emergency fund, and taking that dream vacation. But for most people, the biggest goal is saving for retirement.

Saving for retirement is a daunting task, partly because it’s tough to know just how much you need to save. Unlike a car or a house, there’s no set price tag on retirement. It’s also a highly individual goal, so what you need to save may be wildly different than what your coworkers or friends need to save.

To get a general idea of your retirement goal, input your information into a retirement calculator. Be as accurate as possible here, particularly when it comes to how much you expect to spend each year in retirement. You may even want to create a retirement budget beforehand: The amount you’ll spend each year in retirement determines how much you’ll need to save, so make sure you’re honest with yourself about those expenses.

Once you have a goal in mind, create a plan to get there, and stick to it. Your retirement calculator may also tell you how much you should be saving each month to reach your goal by the time you retire, so that will give you a monthly goal to strive for. If you can’t find that much cash to put toward retirement, you may need to make some sacrifices in other areas of your budget — because the longer you put off saving, the harder it will be to catch up.

2. Increase your retirement contributions on a regular basis

In your 20s and 30s, it’s important to set at least some money aside for retirement. But saving for the future isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of scenario; it’s important to check in on your savings every so often and make adjustments to save more as circumstances permit.

It’s especially vital to have this habit of boosting your retirement savings down by the time you turn 40. That’s because your 40s will likely be some of your peak earning years, making them a good time to supercharge your retirement savings. Every time you earn a raise, receive a bonus, or start a new job with a higher salary, contribute a little more to your retirement fund. These adjustments don’t need to be major, but increasing your savings a little bit each year can add up over a couple of decades.

One of the best ways to increase your retirement contributions effortlessly is to save a certain percentage of your salary. Then as you earn more money, you’ll automatically be saving more. If you can, you might also increase the percentage of income you’re setting aside to boost your savings even more.

For example, say you’re earning $50,000 per year and your goal is to save $500 per month — 12% of your salary. Let’s also say you earn a raise down the road and start earning $55,000 per year. By continuing to save 12% of your salary, you instantly increase your savings to $550 per month. If you have some extra cash each month, you might also choose to increase your contribution rate to 15% of your salary, or around $687 per month. These changes may seem minor, but little boosts in savings can add up — especially if you keep making adjustments every few years.

3. Automate your bills

Nearly half of Americans at least sometimes pay their bills late, a survey from Aite Group found, and just over 60% say they don’t automate their payments.

A late payment here and there won’t ruin your finances, but if you make a habit of not paying your bills on time, it can create long-term damage. One of the key components of your credit score is your payment history, so repeated late payments can cause your score to plummet. A low credit score can lead to a host of problems, including higher interest rates on loans — which eat away at your disposable income and make it harder to save.

An easy way to combat late payments, however, is to automate paying your bills. This ensures they’re paid on time every month, easily avoiding any late fees or dings to your credit score. It also makes bill-paying one less thing you have to worry about each month, so you can focus on more important financial tasks.

In a similar vein, you may also choose to automate your retirement savings to take one more task off your plate. If you have a 401(k), you may even be able to transfer a portion of each paycheck straight to your retirement fund, so you’ll never see that money in your bank account — making it less tempting to spend it before you can save it. If you’re using an individual retirement account to save, you can still transfer a set amount from your bank account to your IRA, ensuring that you reach your saving goals each month.

Managing your finances is hard work, but it’s one of the most important skills you can learn if you want to enjoy a financially healthy future. By taking baby steps and mastering a few easy money habits, you can set yourself up for long-term success.

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It’s summertime, and that means school’s not in session, schedules are more flexible, and the weather is generally mild (albeit hot) on a nationwide level. As such, it’s common for people to take vacation during the summer months. 

If that’s your plan, you may be busy researching hotel deals and booking different tours. But have you put any thought into how you’ll actually pay for your getaway?

Ideally, the money for your trip should come from savings, and 18% of Americans say that setting aside funds for vacation is a top priority of theirs, according to CIT Bank’s Summer Savings Survey. On the flip side, 36% of U.S. adults don’t save anything for vacations on a monthly basis, and that’s problematic when they move forward with travel plans despite not having the money on hand to do so.

If you’re not in the habit of saving for vacations, you’d be wise to rethink that idea. Otherwise, you’ll risk racking up debt in the course of escaping the regular grind.

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Save now, spare yourself the stress later on

Vacations usually aren’t free, and while there are things you can do to minimize their cost, for the most part, you need at least some money to pay for them. But if you don’t accumulate any funds in savings, you’ll risk racking up loads of credit card debt in order to get away. That debt will not only cost you money in interest, but potentially damage your credit score to the point where it’s hard to repair.

A better bet? Set up a budget that maps out your monthly living expenses, and include a line item for vacations in there. Then, set aside funds each month so that by the time your vacation rolls around, you have a way to pay for it.

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Furthermore, while it’s a smart idea to sock away money for vacation purposes, you shouldn’t tap your emergency savings to pay for a trip or getaway. The purpose of your emergency fund is to cover the cost of unplanned bills that can’t be put off, like home or vehicle repairs. If you raid your emergency savings in order to pay for a vacation, you could wind up in a real pinch the next time an unanticipated bill comes your way.

If you’ve missed the boat on saving for a vacation for this summer, postpone your plans and travel later in the year, after you’ve had some time to accrue some cash. Or, take a staycation, and explore low-cost activities in your hometown. It may not be as exciting as traveling to a foreign country or even to another state, but you could very well end up enjoying it nonetheless.

Remember, the purpose of going on vacation is to have a good time and clear your mind. But if that vacation results in a host of financial problems, you’ll wipe out those benefits. You’re therefore better off actively saving to go on vacation, and waiting until you’ve accomplished that goal, before packing your bags.

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The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Offer from the Motley Fool: The $16,728 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook

If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,728 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

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8 tips for saving money on groceries


  • FILE - In this March 1, 2011, file photo, a worker stocks the fresh meat shelves at a Kroger Co. supermarket, in Cincinnati. The supermarket is one of the most important places to be shopping-savvy. The good news is that there are so many easy and effective way to slash your grocery budget. Photo: Al Behrman, AP / Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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I do not know of a single person who doesn’t like to save money. And the supermarket is one of the most important places to be shopping-savvy.

The good news is there are so many easy and effective ways to slash your grocery budget.

Here are 8 tips that will bring that receipt total down considerably.

1. Buy whole fruits and vegetables. Pound for pound, whenever you buy anything that has been peeled, cut up or prepped in any way, you are paying a premium. And not only are you paying more for the work that went into the prepared food, you may lose additional money on the back end, since these items are more perishable than their whole counterparts. Pre-diced onion might only last for a handful of days in the fridge, for example, while whole onions will last for weeks.


2. Don’t snub store brands. House brand foods used to feel like an inferior version of name brand items, but these days stores have more formidable relationships with manufacturers, and often the house brand of something might be made by the same company as a reputable brand name product. You will have to taste some to figure out what you like. And stores like Costco with their Kirkland brand items, or Trader Joe’s with their eponymous line of groceries are powerful examples of how good store brand products can be.


3. Put the freezer to work. If pork chops are on sale but you don’t plan to make them this week, consider buying them and freezing them for later. Or if your market or price club has a great deal on bulk chicken or ground beef, take advantage of it, and just divide up the package into smaller freezer-proof containers or bags. Label everything and wrap it well. Frozen shrimp also deserves a special shout-out: Most shrimp that you buy “fresh” was actually frozen and defrosted anyway, so stash a bag in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners. Frozen vegetables and fruit are also great to have on hand.

4. Look for the bargain aisle. Many supermarkets have a designated aisle where they feature a selection of reduced-price items. Often these items are seasonal, and you might see them discounted further after a holiday (matzoh ball mix is practically free right after Passover, and candy canes are a steal on Dec. 26).

5. Look for “While Supplies Last” signage. In one of the markets where I shop, some of the sales signs on the shelves have additional language (in small print, so get in close to check!) letting shoppers know that an item is in limited supply and intended to sell out. Often these prices are discounted heavily since the store is trying to clear its shelves for new products.


6. Stock up on on-sale non-perishables. If you have the storage space, when you see that canned broth or tomatoes or beans or pasta is on sale, throw a few extra into your cart. I once bought 10 containers of mustard because the price was so good (I happen to really love mustard).

7. Look for clearance areas in the market. Day-old pastries and bread (perfect for French toast or stuffing!) might be tucked into a small shelf near the bakery. Corners of the store may have shelves with collections of miscellaneous products that no longer warrant space on the main shelves. This might be because they are close to expiration, or there are just a few left and they aren’t being restocked. You could also get some serious steals on packages that got a little dinged up, but the contents are still fine. (Who cares what the outside of the box of cereal looks like?)

8. Look at the store circular before you go. Many major markets have a website that will show you the items on sale that week. A chance to think about this in advance means that you can meal-plan around the pot roast that is on special, or decide this is the week to stock up on snacks for back to school.

___

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.

Newt Gingrich: President Trump, don’t embrace left-wing ideas to get something done on drug prices

What is the Trump administration doing to lower the cost of prescription drugs?Video

What is the Trump administration doing to lower the cost of prescription drugs?

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks with Steve Hilton on ‘The Next Revolution’.

In a recent column, I explained why the president and Republicans are on their way to a stunning victory in 2020. I predicted that a big factor in this victory will be the clear juxtaposition between the president’s methodical, step-by-step approach to lower health care costs with more transparency, choice, and accountability and the Democrats’ calls for radical change that would throw people off of their private insurance and replace it with a government-run monopoly.

In this column, I want to sound a warning about how things could go wrong, particularly when it comes to the president’s efforts to lower prescription drug prices.

Until a few days ago, I would have argued confidently that the president and Republicans were well situated to win on the issue of drug prices in 2020.

NEWT GINGRICH: IF DEMS KEEP DOING THESE FIVE THINGS, TRUMP WILL HAVE A LANDSLIDE VICTORY IN 2020

A record number of generic drugs were approved by the FDA in 2017, saving consumers nearly $16 billion with lower-priced alternatives. The Republican Congress also passed, and the president signed, a bill lifting the pharmacy “gag clauses” that prevented pharmacists from informing patients if they could pay less for a medicine by paying cash instead of going through insurance (some generic drugs are so cheap that they can cost less than a co-pay).

This early progress has led to a stunning result: for the first time in nearly 50 years, the consumer price index for prescription drugs is falling.

With a proof of concept that increasing transparency and consumer choice can lower drug costs, the president and Republicans could point to even bigger reforms being developed using the same strategies. This record of results using common sense, market-oriented reforms would provide a positive contrast with the Democrats’ calls for big government price controls that would lead to rationing of care and fewer medical breakthroughs like gene therapy, which would both cure diseases and create an economic boom in America.

Unfortunately, the administration’s efforts have hit several roadblocks in recent days. Worse, it appears some in the administration are abandoning market-oriented reforms that are working in favor of a more left-wing approach which would be a disaster.

Last week, a judge ruled that the administration could not require the prices of prescription drugs to be disclosed in direct-to-consumer advertising. This was a blow to efforts to use transparency and market forces to put downward pressure on drug prices.

Worse, the administration announced that due in part to misguided budgetary concerns, it was dropping its development of a rule in Medicare Part D to require all discounts and rebates given to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to be passed directly to patients at the pharmacy counter.

Embracing watered-down, left-wing ideas to get something done on drug prices will not help American patients, who will face rationing and be robbed of future medical breakthroughs made possible through the free market, and it certainly won’t help politically in 2020.

This decision is incomprehensible. As I have explained before, this reform would have removed a huge incentive for drug manufacturers to constantly raise their prices in order to provide bigger discounts to PBMs. It is also a reform which would save seniors money in their out-of-pocket costs, making it easier for patients to follow their drug regimes, improving their health. Coupled with the fact that seniors would have started saving money in 2020, an election year, the decision to abandon the rule is both bad medicine and bad politics.

In an even more worrisome development, reports are that some in the administration are considering embracing Nancy Pelosi’s plan to impose price controls on drugs in Medicare by tying the rate of drug price increases to inflation. Unlike the rebate rule, using price controls to standardize the rate of price increases won’t reduce the amount seniors pay for their drugs. In fact, drug manufacturers will likely respond by increasing their initial prices.

In addition, in Pelosi’s plan, the penalty for raising prices faster than inflation is a tax, which would go to the federal treasury, not to seniors. So instead of reducing seniors’ drug costs, Pelosi’s plan would grow government.

The danger for President Trump is in is best summed up by this headline: ‘Trump leaning on Sanders-style ideas to save his drug plan’.

President Trump should heed Ronald Reagan’s advice for conservatives: raise a banner of “bold colors,” no “pale pastels.”

Embracing watered-down, left-wing ideas to get something done on drug prices will not help American patients, who will face rationing and be robbed of future medical breakthroughs made possible through the free market, and it certainly won’t help politically in 2020. The Democratic nominee for president will always be able to go further to the left than a Republican president offering “pale pastels” of liberal ideas.

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Instead, President Trump should stick to “bold colors.” He should announce that the rebate rule will be implemented as scheduled; fight for more transparency in drug prices in the courts; and make clear that while he is open to bipartisan legislation on drug prices, he is not going to adopt price controls that would ruin the innovation base making the drug breakthroughs possible in the first place.

Combined with President Trump’s other positive reforms in health care, this would be a “bold colors” health care platform that would win in 2020.

Disclosure: Newt Gingrich is an adviser to companies and organizations in health care, some of whom would be impacted by the policies discussed in this article.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM NEWT GINGRICH

Finding “New Money” To Save For A Down Payment

 

Buying a house can be such an incredible experience. When we’re finally able to find the perfect place to call home, we get a sense of comfort and belonging that’s indescribable. Our home protects us, helps us plant our family roots and allows us to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Before we can take the plunge and buy our new home, we need the money to make it happen. That all starts with a down payment.

And for a lot of us, that large amount of money is not always sitting in our bank account readily available for purchase time. With the majority of our country living paycheck to paycheck, coming up with the money for a down payment can feel really difficult – if not impossible.

To support us in buying our dream home, here are seven ways that we can find “new money” for our down payment.

Not everyone gets a sizeable tax refund based on how they file, but if you do, consider putting it in a savings account for your future home down payment. With the average tax refund hovering around $2,800, this could be a great starting point for your new home fund.

It may be tempting to spend this sizeable sum on a relaxing vacation or another luxury purchase. Hey, we’re human, right?! But if you’re able to hold yourself back and think about your new future home instead of some fun in the sun, your future self will thank you.

There are plenty of smart things to do with a bonus. You could pay down debt, invest for the future and save for a down payment on your next home.

There is a trick to this one though – you have to pretend the bonus isn’t going to come and therefore, you won’t plan to spend it.

A lot of this down payment savings game is psychological. When you’re in control of your money – instead of the other way around – you win.

Let’s say bonuses don’t really happen where you work. That’s okay. There are other routes to increase your income with your employer. For example, you could ask for a raise.

Now there are smart ways to ask for a raise, and then … there are not. Don’t go demanding more money just because you want it. You should be exceeding career expectations and having continuous dialogue with your supervisor about your goals at work. If your work and progress is not measurable, that can make asking for a raise a lot harder.

If you feel like you’ve been crushing it at work and your supervisor calls you out as a top contributor, there’s no harm in asking for what you feel you deserve. Be sure to check out sites like Glassdoor to learn more about typical salary range potential. The process could be enlightening and help you better understand the growth path for your future home down payment.

Perhaps the potential for income growth in your full-time job is limited or you’ve already tapped those resources and you’re looking for more ways to save for your down payment. Well, look no further than the side hustle!

Side hustles can be work done through the gig economy (Uber, Lyft and DoorDash), taking freelance jobs (writing, graphic design and website management) or by turning your hobby into a moneymaking small business. If you have extra hours and the drive to grow your savings, developing a side hustle may be for you.

Just be careful not to burn yourself out. If you’re working during the day, at night and on the weekends, you won’t have much time to enjoy that new home of yours. Be sure to find a savings rate and time frame that works well for your lifestyle and your long-term goals.  

There are only so many hours in the day. Making more money at work or outside of work may be difficult for you. A great place to start is in your current place of living.

Set aside an evening to walk around your house and find 10 things that you can sell on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. These are things that you don’t use or things that don’t bring you joy anymore. Some ideas may include:

  • Bikes
  • Baby gear
  • Kid’s clothes
  • Purses
  • Suits
  • Furniture
  • Toys
  • Video Games/Movies
  • Electronics

This evening of cleaning, purging and selling could very well net you $500 or more. And hey, even if it doesn’t, you’ll definitely have a much cleaner house!

Every year or so, it’s smart to reanalyze your insurance coverage. Your personal living, driving and financial situation may change over time and making sure you have the proper coverage is key.

But you also want to make sure your current insurance provider is giving you the best coverage for the lowest price possible. Quite often, insurance providers slowly increase their prices over time and before we know it, we’re paying a lot more than we originally committed to.

Shop around to other competing insurance providers for policies like home, auto and umbrella. A few phone calls could save you thousands of dollars per year. This four-figure savings expedition could be a nice pile of cash added to your future home down payment reserves.

One of the top three areas where we spend our money is food. Eating out for dinner, swinging by the drive-thru and our typical grocery shopping can take up a big portion of our monthly budgets.

While we’re saving up for our next home, try to keep eating out at restaurants to a minimum. Those high-priced bills can steal a lot of our savings potential.

Additionally, there are plenty of hacks to save money at the grocery store. Some of my personal favorites are the following:

  • Shopping with a list
  • Limiting trips to once per week
  • Switching to a low-cost grocery store like ALDI
  • Buying fruit and veggies that are in season
  • Cutting back on pre-packaged foods

Diligence and a little preparation with our food plans can help us save money and stay healthy at the same time. This way, you’ll be healthy and wealthy in that future home of yours!

Remember, everyone’s financial situation is different and it’s best to speak with a licensed financial expert or advisor before making any major financial decisions.

What strategies are you using to save for your home down payment? Please let us know in the comments below.

Teen wore her mum’s 20-year-old wedding dress to prom to save money


Grace in the dress for her prom and he mum on her wedding day
Grace in the dress for her prom and he mum on her wedding day (Picture: Caters News)

Prom dresses can come with hefty price tags and although you want to look great, you’ll probably only want to wear the dress once.

One teenager had a smart idea to save money and wear something completely unique – her mum’s wedding dress.

Grace Jeyes, 18, decided not to buy a new dress and instead she chose the sentimental outfit, saving the money she would have spent for driving lessons.

The white dress with buttons down the front, petal sleeves and jagged hem that mum Dawn wore when she got married in 1998 was pretty unconventional back then and Grace had always loved it.

Grace, from Melton Mowbray, Leics, said: ‘I didn’t see the point in buying a new dress that I will only ever wear once so I had a look in my wardrobe and then mum’s.

‘I found her stunning wedding dress and I fell in love with it – it fitted perfectly, and I knew this is the one.’


Grace wearing her mums wedding dress to her prom, with her dad David
Grace wearing her mums wedding dress to her prom, with her dad David (Picture: Caters News)

Grace even kept it secret until the night before her prom as a surprise for her mum and dad David, 49.

Grace adds: ‘When she saw me in it, she was so happy.

‘The dress means so much to my parents which made it even more special for me.

‘My friends and teachers were all complimenting me on my dress as it was different from the rest but nobody believed it was once a wedding dress.’


Dawn on her wedding day in 1998
Dawn on her wedding day in 1998 (Picture: Caters News)

Dawn, who is a business owner said: ‘Grace told me she already had a prom dress and didn’t want to shop for another one.

‘I assumed it was going to be one of her many dresses in her wardrobe, so when she came down in my wedding dress, I was so shocked.

‘I was extremely flattered and felt like I must have decent dress sense for her to wear it 20 years later.

‘She has always liked my wedding dress, but I didn’t think she would ever wear it out.

‘I am biased, but I thought she looked the best – she likes to be different from the rest.

‘Grace is very wise with money and thinks before she spends so rather than buying a new prom dress, we put the money towards driving lessons instead.’

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Community banks connect with local children during ‘Money Day’ at the fair

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SALEM TOWNSHIP – While there are plenty of farm animals of all kinds to for children to see and learn about at the fair this year, there were other learning opportunities as well.

With Tuesday being “Money Day” at the Ottawa County Fair, one of those was all about banks, as local youth had the chance to learn about that area’s various community banks from them directly and have fun in the process.

“You have got to reach out to the community and make sure that they’re aware that banks are there to help them, now and in the future,” said Gayle Millinger, branch sales manager at Croghan Colonial Bank. “I believe that’s a big important thing to do.”

Millinger was one of many representatives from local banks who, rather than spending their Tuesday morning in the office, spent that time greeting kids at the fair with fun, games and essentially just touching base with them.

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Not long after the “Money Day” festivities began, every booth was occupied with groups of kids. Millinger said every year the turnout for it is great, so they like to bring a new game or activity each year.

This year, Croghan Colonial Bank’s featured a prize wheel to spin and temporary tattoos for kids, which of course were a hit.

“We do something different every year to make it fun for the kids,” Millinger said. “We have a lot of kids every year and it is awesome.”

All of the participating banks had games and prizes for kids to win.

“You see a lot of the community banks here. All of the locally owned banks are out here and we’re all willing, not just Croghan but all the banks, to show our support,” she said.

And while they do focus on making sure the kids have fun things to do, they also aim to promote the idea of saving money at the bank, Millinger said, an effort to raise the local youth’s awareness of saving.

“I think all of our banks in the community try to reach out to schools or reach out to any event to make kids aware about saving and planning for their future,” she said.

jstinchcom@gannett.com

419-680-4897

Twitter: @JonDBN

Zoro: Five eco-friendly, cost-saving warehouse strategies – Supply Chain Digital

At a time when climate change is becoming an ever-pressing issue, we all need to be looking for ways in which we can reduce the impact we’re having on the environment. But, making some of your warehouse’s process eco-friendlier won’t just help save the planet — it can save you money, too. Kelly Friel from Zoro outlines some swaps that all warehouse managers should consider making.

While the logistics industry hasn’t faced the same scrutiny as the manufacturing and transportation sectors when it comes to environmental issues, there’s no denying that it makes a significant contribution to the globe’s carbon emissions. And, at a time when climate change is the greatest threat we’re all facing, it’s vital that all businesses review their processes to see whether there are any eco-friendlier choices they could be making.

There are a range of ways in which warehouse managers can address their work in a more environmentally conscious way. For example, making tweaks to everything from your lighting to your waste disposal system could have a hugely positive effect on your company’s carbon footprint. And, as a bonus, a lot of eco-friendly swaps can even save you money. So, I’m going to outline five changes all warehouses should be making to benefit the planet and their bottom lines.

Make the switch to LED bulbs

The European Union banned retailers from selling traditional halogen bulbs last September. This is because more energy efficient alternatives like LED and compact fluorescent bulbs offer the same quality of lighting but use around a fifth of the power.

If you’re still waiting for your halogen bulbs to expire or have a stockpile that you were planning to use in your warehouse, I would recommend making the switch to LEDs as soon as possible instead. Because they require less electricity to run, this is a great way to reduce your carbon emissions. Plus, although LED bulbs tend to be slightly more expensive to buy, YouGen claims that the energy costs of lighting your home with halogen bulbs is 20 times more than with LEDs. Plus, LED bulbs have much longer lifespans. As a result, they’ll soon pay for themselves!

Reduce the need for heating with better insulation

To keep your staff comfortable — and possibly preserve your wares, depending on what you stock — your warehouse is likely to require heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summertime. But you can reduce how much power this requires and help the effects to last much longer by ensuring your workplace is properly insulated. 

You might also benefit from providing your staff with seasonal uniforms: for example, give them winter hats and coats in the colder months, as well as short-sleeved tops that they can wear throughout the summer. This way, you won’t ever have to turn your warehouse’s heating or air conditioning up too high, as your workers will have some extra steps they can take to ensure they’re comfortable and ready to work. Plus, while insulating your warehouse and giving your employees extra pieces of uniform will cost you money, it will also help to reduce your energy bills, which should help you to save in the long run. 

Review your packaging

There are a number of ways in which you can review your packaging and make it greener. Firstly, look at whether you’re currently throwing a lot of packaging away. As a general rule, the less waste your warehouse is creating the better, and businesses in the logistics sector do tend to run into a lot of problems in this area. So, if you find that your company has a lot of packaging waste, look at whether you can make your processes more efficient to reduce this.

It’s also a good idea to look at what kinds of materials can be found in your packaging. A war is currently being waged against single use plastics, and one of the ways in which they’re most commonly used is in the packaging of good and deliveries. So, if there’s currently a lot of plastic packaging in your warehouse, it’s a good idea to look for an alternative if possible. Green Business Bureau recommends using the likes of biodegradable packaging peanuts, corrugated bubble wrap, recycled cardboard and paper or even packaging made from more sustainable materials that originate from mushrooms and seaweed. 

I would also recommend looking at how much packaging you typically use for each item. Not only will using less means reduce how much is thrown away, but it can also make your shipments lighter, so less energy is required to transport them. This can all go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint, and will also save you money, as you’ll be spending less on packing materials and fuel.

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Make sure your recycling facilities are up to scratch

If your warehouse doesn’t recycle, or you have a system in place but it isn’t particularly effective, now is a great time to change this. Start by looking at areas where you could reduce how much waste you’re producing, and then determine how you can recycle as much of what’s left as possible. And, if some of your materials can’t simply be sent to the local recycling plant, this might involve getting creative: for example, is there another local business that could take some of the waste of your hands and put it to good use?

It’s also important that you ensure as much waste is recycled day-to-day, and the only way in which you can do this is by making it as convenient as possible for your workers. Put clearly labelled bins in convenient locations so your employees always know where their rubbish needs to go and can get to the relevant bin quickly and easily. It might also be worth choosing bins with wheels, so they’re easy to move around when it’s appropriate.

You will also need to educate your staff about any new waste disposal system that you put in place. Make sure to highlight the importance of sticking to any guidelines you’ve set out, and let staff know that you’re open to any suggestions of improvement that they have. You’ll want to hear if anything doesn’t work as it should, after all. 

Start to phase in more energy efficient equipment

If some if your equipment is quite old, it’s likely new and more efficient alternatives have come on the market since you bought it. So, whenever a tool comes to the end of its life, don’t just buy a direct replacement — instead, look to see if there are any eco-friendlier versions that you could invest in. 

It’s also a good idea to buy the highest-quality equipment that can afford at the time. Not only will this help to ensure that your chosen tools run as smoothly as possible, but they should also have a much longer lifespan — especially if they’re used and maintained correctly. Plus, the best tools will be equipped with the latest and most efficient technology, which will save you energy, time, and money.

Taking some steps to make your warehouse greener won’t just help the environment — it can be good for your bottom line, too. So, by taking these steps, you can be confident that you’re doing your bit for the planet, while also having your business’ best interests at heart. 

7 stages of financial freedom: How to achieve them and why you’ll be less stressed

Now that you have saved up enough to cover an emergency, your next level is saving more money. Level 4 is stability: saving up a year’s worth of expenses. With this money saved, you should feel rooted.

Level 5 is the last level of saving and it offers flexibility. While saving up a year’s worth of expenses will protect you from any unseen emergencies, saving up two years’ worth will give you the flexibility to live how you want. Sabatier recommends that, once you reach this level of financial success, you reassess your priorities and give yourself a pat on the back.

The sixth level, financial independence, is when you have enough money to last you for the rest of your life. According to Sabatier, there are two straightforward ways to achieve financial independence. “No. 1, you can save over a million dollars, and then live off the interest of your investment forever,” he said. “Or, No. 2, you can invest in income-producing assets, things like real estate, that pay a consistent amount of money.”

The seventh and last level of financial independence is abundant wealth. Abundant wealth is when you have more money than you will ever need and can start to think about what legacy you want to leave behind. Whether it through charitable donations or college savings for children, you can use your wealth to set a strong foundation for future generations.

Working your way up through the levels of financial freedom will not happen overnight. But, for each level you achieve, your financial stress should shrink and your options — where your work, where you live, what you drive — will increase.

Check out Airbnb superhost brings in $34,000 a year in Georgia−here’s how he got started via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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