34. Do everything possible not to cash out your retirement account early. Dipping into your retirement funds early will hurt you many times over. For starters, you’re negating all the hard work you’ve done so far saving—and you’re preventing that money from being invested. Second, you’ll be penalized for an early withdrawal, and those penalties are usually pretty hefty. Finally, you’ll get hit with a tax bill for the money you withdraw. All these factors make cashing out early a very last resort.
35. Give money to get money. The famous 401(k) match is when your employer contributes money to your retirement account. But you’ll only get that contribution if you contribute first. That’s why it’s called a match, see? Read about 401(k)s and other types of retirement accounts here.
36. When you get a raise, raise your retirement savings too. You know how you’ve always told yourself you would save more when you have more? We’re calling you out on that. Every time you get a bump in pay, the first thing you should do is up your automatic transfer to savings, and increase your retirement contributions. It’s just one step in our checklist for starting to save for retirement.
How to … Best Build—and Track—Your Credit
37. Review your credit report regularly—and keep an eye on your credit score. This woman learned the hard way that a less-than-stellar credit score has the potential to cost you thousands. She only checked her credit report, which seemed fine—but didn’t get her actual credit score, which told a different story.
38. Keep your credit use below 30% of your total available credit. Otherwise known as your credit utilization rate, you calculate it by dividing the total amount on all of your credit cards by your total available credit. And if you’re using more than 30% of your available credit, it can ding your credit score. So read about the best way to pay your credit card bill—and find out if you should ask for a credit increase.
39. If you have bad credit, get a secured credit card. A secured card helps build credit like a regular card—but it won’t let you overspend. And you don’t need good credit to get one! Here’s everything you need to know about secured credit cards.
How to … Get Properly Insured
40. Get more life insurance on top of your company’s policy. That’s because the basic policy from your employer is often far too little. Not convinced? Read how extra life insurance saved one family.