The Importance of Saving Early

When my husband and I first married, we were poor and in debt. It was a difficult place to be, and, even as we made inroads and improved our finances, we still felt pinched. As a result, we decided that we couldn’t “afford” to set aside money for the future.

Finally, after a few years, we finally opened a Roth IRA and started setting aside some money. As I began writing about personal finance, I realized what a mistake we made. During those early years, we could have perhaps set aside $25 per month. But we thought the amount was too small. If we couldn’t “afford” to set aside at least $100 a month, we didn’t think it was worth it.

If I could go back in time, I would shake my younger self (and her younger husband), and tell them what I have since learned: The earlier you start saving, the better off you’ll be — no matter how little you set aside at first.

The Power of Compound Interest

One of the reasons that it makes sense for you to start saving as early as you can is due to the power of compound interest. This is a concept that puts your money to work for you. With compound interest, the money you earn through interest and other returns earns money. This means that more than just your original capital is working on your behalf.

As you earn interest, and that interest earns interest, your earnings are compounded — increased over time. The earlier you start saving, the longer compound interest has to work on your behalf. Just starting five years earlier can mean a difference of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime.

Even though we didn’t have a whole lot to set aside early on, we did have some money available. Even that small amount, compounded over time, could have made a bit of a difference. But we missed out on the extra money we could have been earning. In fact, that $25 a month, compounded monthly at 5% a year, for 35 years comes out to $28,520.65. But if we had started five years earlier, and that $25 had 40 years to grow instead? The result would have $38,309.46. That’s almost $10,000 more — just for starting five years earlier like we should have.

A Habit of Saving

Even more important than the amount that you set aside early on is the habit of saving you develop. I’m determined to teach my son this lesson. He knows that one of the first things he does with any money that he receives is to set aside some of it for savings, whether it’s money he’s earned, allowance money, or cash gifts for his birthday.

If he earns more money, he sets aside more money for savings. This habit is one that, hopefully, will follow him his whole life. A good habit of saving starts early. Even if it’s only $10 a week, the habit can stay with you. Start saving now, and then set a goal to increase the amount that you set aside. Figure out ways to boost your savings amount when you can. You’ll develop a good habit and, meanwhile, the power of compound interest is working on your behalf.

5 Energy Efficient Devices to Lower Your Office’s Operating Costs

As part of the green revolution, more and more companies are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and rightfully so. The effects of the emissions of harmful chemicals being released into the atmosphere have become increasingly clear. Many corporations that opt to use renewable resources to fuel their facilities and services out of concern for their environmental impact. An added bonus to these efforts is a marked reduction in operating costs. Here are a few energy efficient devices that can be added to any energy conservation plan to enhance its effectiveness and lower overhead costs in the meantime.

Solar-Powered Gadget Charger

It’s extremely common for smartphone and tablet owners to leave their gadget chargers plugged into the wall as a constant place for them to stay. This creates convenience for the user by eliminating the need to crawl under desks and search for an outlet each time they need to charge something.

The downside of this setup is the “vampire power” that the cords pull when they’re plugged while they aren’t in use. Combat this entire scenario by equipping your office staff with solar-powered gadget chargers. They can leave these new chargers near a window to charge and end the vampire effect.

Ecobutton

Even though boot-up times have decreased exponentially, it’s still a common practice to leave computers running overnight, partially because many users believe the machines require a substantial amount of energy to boot up. Modern innovation has changed all that, and it’s not necessary to leave any electric devices turned on overnight.

Today, computers do use a fair amount of power, but turning them off overnight will minimize that. The computer will also likely last longer, as the components will be exposed to less stress.

One of the biggest arguments made by people who leave their computer running constantly is the convenience of always having it ready to go. Work with this by encouraging your employees set their computer to a power save mode when they step away. This can be made extremely easy with the Ecobutton. It’s a USB device that allows you to quickly set your computer to the most economical and efficient power mode possible. This is similar to a shut down, but a quick press of any key wakes it right up again, and they will find themselves right where they left off.

Energy Star Rated Appliances

Sure they’re not exactly devices, but you might be surprised how much energy you can save by replacing that outdated refrigerator in your employee break room. Generally speaking refrigerators should be replaced within 10 years. Chances are the unit that’s hissing away next to the water cooler is in dire need of an upgrade.

Older models of microwaves and other appliances also use more energy than newer models. Not only do they pull more energy in the first place, but they tend to be less effective as well. Look into replacing these units and watch the savings pile up.

Window Socket

The window socket is one alternative to the solar powered gadget charger. It will come in handy for employees who have run out of outlets, or whose workstations aren’t near an available outlet.

This is one of the most innovative ways of conserving energy to emerge recently. The Window Socket is a solar powered outlet that uses a suction cup to adhere to any window surface. Its mini-solar panel collects energy to power devices on the go or at home. Simply stick it to an exterior window and let it charge for six hours. Once charging is complete, you can bring it anywhere and charge devices on the go, or use it in areas of the office that are away from traditional outlets.

Energy Efficient Printer

A staple in any office, your company printers may be gobbling up more energy than you realize. As with kitchen appliances, printers usually need to be replaced periodically. Look for Energy Star rated models, and upgrade your printers to these new, energy efficient ones. Don’t hesitate to switch to 100 percent recycled paper either.

Give these energy efficient devices a try and see what it does for your energy bills over the course of the next year or so. Added to an existing energy-saving plan, these products will surely give you just the nudge you need toward operating at a more affordable cost level, and easing the burden on the environment in the process. Feel free to share any personal experiences you have as far as energy savings and reducing operating costs.