Get more out of your investments
Saving money only gets you so far. Smart investing can help you reach your financial goals faster. Although it is possible to lose money while investing, historical data shows that over the long-term, investing results in higher gains than simple savings.
If your employer offers a 401(k) retirement plan with a match, that should be the first place to invest. Some companies will match up to a certain percentage of your contribution; not taking advantage of that is leaving money on the table. As with all investments, it's good to review your holdings now and then.
Another way to rev up your investments is with an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). If you don't already have an IRA, consider opening one. Traditional IRAs offer an immediate tax benefit since the money you put into them may be tax deductible, depending on your income and whether or not you're covered by a retirement plan at work. Roth IRA contributions are after-tax, which means you don't have to pay any more tax when you make withdrawals.
Whether you invest in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), take a close look at your expenses. High fees and expense ratios can eat away at investment gains, so if you're unsure, ask your investment professional what fees you're paying and if there are lower-cost options available.
Protect your loved ones
If something happens to you and your family couldn't rely on your income, you wouldn't want them to have to sell the house or forego college. Not only would they have to grieve over you but they may have to face some unpleasant financial realities. Insurance can help protect loved ones in times of crisis.
In the case of your premature death, life insurance could help your family pay for funeral costs, educational expenses, the mortgage, or otherwise replace your income. Term life insurance covers your beneficiaries for a specific time frame. For instance, if you purchased a 20-year term when you had small children, they would hopefully be financially sufficient adults by the policy's expiration date. Even stay-at-home parents need life insurance because replacing all the work they do (childcare and household tasks, for instance) would be expensive.
Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income in the event that you become disabled and unable to work. Nobody wants to think about dying or becoming disabled, but planning for these unfortunate possibilities and providing peace of mind can be an act of love towards your family.