How much should I save and where should I put it?

Lots of my readers think I’m a spoiled brat with a spending addiction, and occasionally I get a comment along those lines. Part of the reason I started this blog is that I agree with that statement and I’m trying to be smarter about my finances. Without the PF world I probably would be in debt by now instead of having $45k in savings. Yes, I have a shopping addiction. Yes, I need to stop making excuses for buying expensive clothes. Yes, I need to focus on saving more. But my biggest problem is not knowing where to save. It’s not the best excuse, but it’s true.

I can easily put away $5k per year in my Roth IRA because I always save up that much the year before (I overestimate on my taxes and pretend that money doesn’t exist) but beyond that I am not sure where to put my savings. Spending the money is, sadly, a lot easier than figuring that out. Again, an excuse, but I really don’t know where to put my money. With no 401k at work, I’m not sure where I should save. Do any of you have ideas for me?

I have some automatic transfers set up. $100 / month to ING Direct liquid emergency fund, $50 / month to Sharebuilder, $50 / month to my 529 plan. I’m not really sure how to save for retirement beyond my 401k or if I even should be saving more than that right now specifically for retirement. If I could figure out HOW MUCH I should be saving and WHERE I should be saving it, believe me, it would be a lot easier to save it.

My current accounts…

Checking: $375
Basic Savings Account: $301
CD / Emergency Fund: $8,073.49
ING Direct Savings / Liquid Emergency Fund: $3000
PayPal: $70

Roth IRA: $14,482
Sharebuilder Stocks & ETFs: $9,801.43
Vanguard Index Fund: $4113.69
Vanguard 529 College Plan: $890.44
Lending Club: $555.95
Prosper: $233.10
HSA: $1000

Where on earth should I be putting my savings and how much should I really try to save each year?

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6 thoughts on “How much should I save and where should I put it?”

  1. Green America offers some really great resources for socially-conscious investing. I have my savings in a community reinvestment bank (Shorebank Direct–'tis online) and test my retirement portfolio against Calvert Funds (also online and via Green America) tools that let you know what funds are invested in. I'm a big believer in putting your money into vehicles that help communities and the planet while helping you. Yanno, as opposed to sticking your cash into some jerkwad company that's helping to pay for the horrors in the Sudan, etc.I'm a big fan of traditional savings models–mutual funds, savings accounts and CDs. I just invest in them with community reinvestment banks and companies that are working to make the world a better place. It has totally changed my focus around how I save and spend. Money is a powerful tool. I can use it to help people or buy yet another useless piece of crap I don't need. I choose the former as much as possible. It has radically changed my life, and I couldn't be happier.ANYHOO, Green America's link for socially-conscious investing:

  2. Maybe if you put some auto payments towards some of the stocks/index funds? That is your best long term return on investment.Are you looking to save for something in particular? Like a house or something?

  3. so i found your blog by doing a google for blogs search word "25 year olds" – bc well i'm 25 and i wanted to read what others were writing at my age. ive really enjoyed reading your blogs the past few days – but i honestly have no idea where to get started saving in the finance world. my husband and i just got married and my plan for the new year is to get our credit up, get out of debt and save as much as possible. if you have any suggestions on where to start id really appreciate your input. thanks, tamara

  4. @Tamara Welcome to my blog. 🙂 I'm going to answer your question in a new feature called Reader Question Tuesday. I'll post the answer soon. 🙂

  5. Here's a suggestion: Continue to max out you Roth IRA. By the way, great choice. Gradually, increase the amount you invest in your portfolio, say an extra $50-100 a month. Review your investment porfolio. Are you appropriately diversified, not just in assets but among sectors? Do you have some real estate, healthcare companies, and/or energy companies? In addition, continue to save more toward your emergency fund…you should accumulate 8 months of monthly expenses. As far as other places to invest toward retirment, I, personally, use my life insuranc contract. For me it makes sense, and I get to choose which investments I want my money allocated, too. Plus, I can invest more or less every month. Depending if you are a self-employed individual, you may want to speak to a Financial Advisor that specializes in self-employment retirement vechicles, such as the Solo 401(k). I hope my suggestions help.

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