older couple smilingBuilding financial security can be a daunting task, especially if you’re living on a low income. But with a little planning and effort, it’s possible to take control of your finances and start working towards a more stable future. Here are seven tips to help you get started:

  1. Start small: Even if you can only save a few dollars each week, it’s important to start saving for the future. Every little bit counts, and the earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow. Don’t wait until you have more money or feel like you can contribute a significant amount – just start.
    • The Social Security Administration’s website at www.ssa.gov. It provides information on retirement benefits, as well as calculators to help individuals estimate their future benefits based on their earnings history. Additionally, there are resources on other retirement savings options such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans.
  2. Consider a high-yield savings account: Look for savings accounts that offer higher interest rates, so your money can grow faster. Some online banks offer savings accounts with interest rates significantly higher than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
    • Bankrate.com is a great web resource for finding high-yield savings accounts and comparing their interest rates.
  3. Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans: If your employer offers a 401(k) or other retirement plan, contribute what you can. Even a small amount can add up over time. And if your employer offers a match on your contributions, make sure to contribute at least enough to get the full match.
    • Check out the website of the U.S. Department of Labor, which offers helpful information on employer-sponsored retirement plans.
  4. Explore community resources: There may be non-profit organizations, local credit unions, or other community groups that offer financial assistance or education programs. Research these options to see what resources are available to you.
    • Arlington Public Library: The library offers a range of financial education resources and workshops, as well as access to financial planning tools and databases.
    • Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU): ACFCU offers a variety of financial education opportunities, including webinars, to help individuals in the community build their financial knowledge and skills.
  5. Consider a side hustle: Earning extra income through a side job or freelance work can help you build your savings faster. Look for opportunities that fit your skills and schedule, whether it’s delivering food, pet-sitting, or selling handmade crafts.  Check out these options to get started:
    • Upwork: A popular freelance platform where you can find a variety of jobs, from writing and editing to graphic design and programming.
    • Fiverr: A platform where freelancers can offer their services starting at $5.
    • TaskRabbit: A website that connects people with local tasks, such as cleaning, moving, and handyman services.
    • Etsy: A popular marketplace for handmade and vintage items, as well as craft supplies and digital downloads.
    • Gigwalk: A mobile app that allows you to find local, short-term gigs like mystery shopping and product testing.
    • Rover: A website that connects dog owners with local dog sitters and dog walkers.
  6. Seek out financial education opportunities: Many non-profit organizations and community groups offer free financial education classes and workshops. Take advantage of these resources to learn more about investing and retirement planning. Some recommended web resources include:
    • MyMoney.gov: A government website with resources and tools to help you make the most of your money.
    • Khan Academy: A non-profit organization with free online courses on a variety of subjects, including personal finance.
    • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: A government agency that provides information and resources on financial topics.
  7. Don’t be afraid to seek help: If you’re struggling to make ends meet or don’t know where to start with investing and retirement planning, don’t hesitate to reach out to a financial advisor or counselor for guidance and support. Many non-profit organizations offer free or low-cost financial counseling services.
    • Virginia Cooperative Extension offers financial counseling and education programs to help individuals and families improve their financial well-being. These programs cover a wide range of topics, including budgeting, debt management, credit repair, and more.
    • Financial Empowerment Center at South County: The center offers free one-on-one financial counseling and coaching to low-income residents in Fairfax County.
    • Virginia Legal Aid Society: The society provides free legal assistance to low-income residents, including help with debt collection and credit issues.

Building financial security takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. By taking small steps and seeking out resources and support, you can improve your financial situation and work towards a more stable future.

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