Many people worry about investing. It seems like it’s too complicated to get started. However, investing is one of the best ways to build wealth over time. If you’ve been hesitating about investing, here are 4 reasons to get started as soon as possible:

1. Compound Interest Works for You

One of the best reasons to get started as soon as you can is due to compound interest. Compound interest is earnings on your earnings. It’s the way money works on your behalf to grow over time. The longer compound interest has to grow, the bigger your nest egg will be. Time and consistency are key for a long-term investing strategy.

2. You Can Start with a Small Amount

Today, it’s easier than ever to start investing, even when you don’t have a lot of money. Many online brokers have low minimums — or no minimums at all. Brokers like TradeKing have low fees, and you can use new brokers like Robinhood and Acorns to invest small amounts affordably. There are plenty of other brokers that can help you get started with a variety of low-cost options and with low minimums that make investing affordable.

3. Index Funds and ETFs Make Investing Easier

One of the reasons that many people struggle with investing is due to the choices they have. They are worried about how to choose individual stocks, and concerned about getting it “wrong.” In the last few decades, however, things have changed. The rise of index funds has made it easier for people to make better choices about investing, and get started without stock picking.

An index fund is a collection of securities with similar characteristics. One of the easiest ways to get started is to choose an all-market index fund — on that basically includes every publicly traded company in the United States. There are also funds that focus on specific indexes, like the S&P 500 or funds that focus on dividend stocks. You can also trade index ETFs like stocks, and reap the benefits of ease and low-cost trading.

Starting with indexing can be a good way to just start building your portfolio, without the need for a lot of expertise. Plus, it reduces the risk somewhat because you aren’t relying on just one security.

4. You Might Already be Investing

Are investing without realizing it? If you have been contributing to your company’s retirement plan, you are already investing. What you put into your plan goes into investments — usually index funds — that help you accumulate wealth over time. On top of that, using a qualified retirement plan comes with tax advantages. Tax-advantaged investing puts your money to more efficient use, and you end up with better results over time.

Check to see what you’re already investing in at work. If you don’t have a plan through work, consider opening an IRA through a low-cost broker. As your financial situation improves, make sure that you increase the amount that you invest. If you can get in the habit of adding to your portfolio over time, your results will be much better.

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Many people prefer a glittery holiday like Christmas or Halloween, but there is something about Thanksgiving that I love.

While I certainly enjoy Christmas and Halloween, as well as, to some degree, Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving is what I look forward to most.

Focus on Gratitude, Not Things

It’s harder and harder to reduce consumerism during the holiday season. The beautiful thing about Thanksgiving is that we have a chance to focus on gratitude. I love the recent movement by some retailers to remain closed on Thanksgiving. With Black Friday encroaching more and more on Thanksgiving, it’s nice to see some push-back.

The idea of Thanksgiving is that we offer our gratitude, rather than put our focus on things. We don’t (or shouldn’t, IMO) talk about all the things we want and all the stuff we wish we had. Instead, we focus on all that we already enjoy and recognize our blessings. I like this idea. I like the idea of enjoying time with family and sharing what we love most in life. So much of the time, what we love most in life has nothing to do with toys or trinkets. Or even electronics.

Family Togetherness

I’m blessed to have family nearby. There were years at a time where my ex and I hosted Thanksgiving in our home for the benefit of displaced siblings and cousins. I loved having family over. This year, my son and I are celebrating Thanksgiving with my parents for the first time in a long while. I’m excited to spend time with them, as well as my brother and his wife. It’s a great day for family time, games, and love. Even if we sit down to watch football, there’s something about that bond of being together and cheering for the same team that makes me feel good inside.

Sometimes, Thanksgiving is about friends and adopted family. No matter who you celebrate with, try to be with people you love and treasure — or even volunteer and make new friends with strangers. Thanksgiving is a great time to be with people and focus on your loved ones. It’s one of the reasons I love the holiday so much.

Food

Of course, we can’t overlook the food. One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the food. I love traditional favorites, like turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. I love apple pie and fluffy dinner rolls. Many other people like sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. Whatever you love about the food, there’s plenty of it — and most of it is comfort food. It’s the perfect complement to the family and friends you spend time with, and the gratitude you cultivate.

All of these are reasons that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’m glad it’s coming up. It’s something I look forward to. It’s a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and it’s a time where you don’t have to worry about presents and things and media. And that makes it my favorite holiday of the year.

Now that it’s open enrollment time, many are thinking about health insurance costs. Business owners and the self-employed have a number of considerations when preparing for open enrollment and deciding how to move forward.

The good news is that business owners and the self-employed can receive some tax deductions related to their health care.

Tax Credits for Employers Who Provide Health Care

If you are a small business owner, you can receive a tax credit when you offer health insurance to your employees. Here are some of the requirements for getting the tax credit as a small business, according to the IRS:

  • Fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees
  • Average annual wages for employees are less than $50,00o per year (adjusted for inflation since 2014)
  • Uniform percentage must be paid for all employees, equal to at least 50% of the premium cost of employee-only insurance

You can consult with a knowledgeable tax professional or check with the IRS to confirm your eligibility and see if there are other requirements your business needs to meet in order to receive the tax credit.

This is one way to attract high-quality employees to your business while receiving a tax benefit for your cost.

Make sure you understand the ACA requirements if you have a larger business as well since you don’t want to be caught in violation of the law.

Self-Employed Health Insurance: Tax Deduction

Even if you don’t own a business that employees others, you can still receive a tax benefit if you are self-employed. What you pay for your health insurance is tax-deductible to some degree.

Pay attention to your health insurance costs. Every year that I’ve had to pay for my own health insurance as a result of being self-employed, it reduces my business income. It’s not as valuable as a tax credit, which is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what you owe, but it still can help reduce the sting of paying for it.

Also, if you qualify for a subsidy under the ACA, it can be worth going through your state exchange, or through the federal exchange to see what plans are available. The subsidy can reduce what you owe in premiums, and, in some cases, can result in a tax refund. Make sure you consult with someone knowledgeable who can help you see what you might be able to accomplish under the ACA.

High Out-of-Pocket Health Costs

If you have high out-of-pocket health costs, you might be able to get a tax deduction if you itemize. If your qualified health costs exceed 10% of your income, you can take a tax deduction. Check with a tax professional to plan your deductions and see if it is worth the trouble.

Another consideration if you have a high-deductible plan is to make use of a Health Savings Account. As you go through open enrollment, take a look at what coverage you need, and if a high-deductible plan could work for you. You can receive a tax deduction for your HSA contributions and the money grows tax-free when it’s used for qualified health care costs.

With a little planning, you can reduce the impact of health care costs on your budget with the help of tax benefits.

Lately, I’ve been making a bigger effort to focus on my health. I’ve made daily exercise a priority, and I’m in the process of baby-stepping my way to nutrition. I even make it a point to get adequate sleep and engage in self-care when I need it.

All of these things are combining to provide me with better health. I’ve noticed some benefits from this new focus on health — including learning more about how better health can help my finances.

More Energy

First of all, I feel better overall. Making my health a priority has allowed me more energy to accomplish other tasks in my life. I feel like I can get more done in the day without resorting to a nap. While I do make time for meditation during the day when I feel like I’m lagging a little bit, I no longer sleep away the afternoon.

This means I’m more productive with my work as well. My focus has improved — especially if I sit down to work right after I exercise. I am able to get my work done faster, which leaves time for other fulfilling activities like music practice and community involvement.

Better Mood

My mood has also improved, which is great in terms of the way I interact with my son. I’m more patient with my son, and calmer about other situations as well. It’s easier to maintain my equanimity when I feel more energetic, and when my exercise and nutrition allow me to be more clearheaded and make better decisions.

Exercise provides endorphins, and cutting back on junk food has also been good for my thought processes. I’m in a better place, and better able to cope with difficult situations. Sleep also helps with being able to cope with anxiety.

How Better Health Helps Your Finances

I also see the potential for better health to help my finances in the long-term. First of all, better health means fewer doctor visits and potentially less need for expensive prescriptions. This is a money-saver right there.

Additionally, my low health needs mean that a high-deductible plan is right for me. I can also use a Health Savings Account (HSA) for tax-advantaged health care savings down the road. I have lower monthly insurance costs and a tidy nest egg building because of my low health care needs due to improved health.

When you have good health, you are less likely to miss work due to sick days. This can help you be more productive and earn more money. You might even be able to show yourself ready for a promotion or raise because of how your attitude and abilities at work manifest. In my case, it just means that I am able to write more and receive better pay.

In the future, I expect that my focus on health now will mean a better quality of life. My retirement years will be healthier — and less expensive — because of my decision to work on better health today. I already enjoy the benefits I’ve seen so far, and I truly see my investment in my health as an investment in my future.

One of the best things you can do for your finances is to be careful about the way you approach debt. While it might make sense to keep some debts around for the entire term, the reality is that all debt is a drain on your resources. If you don’t have a way to more than makeup for that drain, you could run into serious problems with your money.

If you have multiple debts, and you are trying to get your financial house in order, it’s important to pay attention to which debts you should tackle first. Here are some things to consider when deciding which debts to pay off first:

Interest Rate

Your first concern should be the interest you are paying on your debt. Interest represents money that you pay straight into someone else’s pocket in order to keep carrying the debt. It doesn’t benefit you at all. The higher the interest rate, the greater your resources being diverted elsewhere. When deciding which debts to tackle first, those with high rates should be at the top of the list.

If you have high-rate payday loans or car title loans, these are the first loans to tackle. Credit card debt also usually comes with pretty high interest. If you have a lot of credit card debt, begin paying that down if you can. Getting rid of that high-interest debt can free up some of your resources for other uses.

Tax Breaks

You can also consider the tax break you can expect from the debt. Some debts come with tax deductions for the interest you pay. While a tax deduction isn’t a dollar for dollar reduction in what you owe, it can be helpful for you. You’ll reduce your taxable income, lowering your tax bill.

One of the great things about student loan debt is that it is often relatively low-cost, and it is also tax-deductible. However, you don’t need to itemize your deductions to take advantage of your student loan debt. Instead, you can take the deduction “above the line,” which is convenient.

Your mortgage interest might also be tax-deductible, but you have to itemize in order to take advantage of that deduction. In many cases, you’ll need the total of your itemized deductions to exceed your standard deduction to make it “worth it.” If you don’t have enough deductions to make itemizing worth it, you won’t receive a tax break for your mortgage interest.

The interest on business debt can also be tax-deductible. Check with a professional to determine what interest you can deduct.

If you are able to get a low-interest loan and it comes with a tax advantage, that reduces your costs. It might not be worth it to put your resources into repaying that loan fast if you can use the money you would have spent to invest and gain a higher return.

Run the numbers to see what works best for you, and what will help you sleep at night, and then base your debt pay down plan on the best option.

Being frugal isn’t so much about what you buy as it is a state of mind. Too often, we get caught up in penny pinching in a way that isn’t healthy for our finances — or our sanity.

Frugality Isn’t the Same as Never Buy Anything

Many of us see frugal living as a lifestyle that involves never buying anything. We think that being frugal means that we don’t pay for things we don’t need. We get caught up in trying to avoid buying anything, and in doing as much as we can on our own — even if the results are sub-par.

The problem with this approach is that sometimes you buy cheap things that don’t last very long. Low-quality items can cost you more in the long run than a more expensive higher-quality item that you only have to buy once. DIY can also be more expensive than expected if you don’t have a good idea of how to actually complete the tasks in question. You could make a mistake that winds up ruining your home and costing far more than you expected.

Finally, if you mistake frugality for never buying anything, you could end up with a rather disappointing quality of life. You can get caught in a scarcity trap, feeling as though you can never spend money on the things you like because you are trying to be “frugal” or “save money.” This can make life frustrating and difficult to deal with.

Frugality is About Getting Value for Your Money

Being frugal is more about your mindset and getting value for your money, rather than always saying no to spending. When you’re truly frugal, you have a good idea of what you want, and where your priorities are. You should know what’s worth spending money on, and cut out what isn’t important.

Figure out what really matters to you. I don’t care about living in a fancy house, so my son and I are renting something adequate to our needs. There isn’t a lot of fancy furniture because I don’t need to fill my home with stuff. However, we do like to go on trips. So, we put money in a travel fund each month, and we make it a point to go other places when we have a chance.

While I try to look for deals when we travel (I use rewards points, discounts and other strategies to save money), I’m also willing to pay a little extra for comfort and convenience. These things are important to me in a way that things like getting a 50″ flat screen TV or an expensive cable package (I just use online streaming now) aren’t.

True frugality is about figuring out what matters to you, and then making sure that your financial resources go toward those items. You cut out the stuff that doesn’t matter to you and instead focus on what does. You can still spend money — you just stop wasting it on things that are unimportant and that don’t help you reach your goals.

Many of us don’t like the idea of paying insurance premiums. However, the reality is that insurance can be a good way to protect your assets.

I recently moved across the country, and my state switch means that I’ve been making the rounds purchasing new insurance policies. From health insurance as a self-employed person to car insurance, I’ve been re-doing all of my policies.

When it comes to car insurance, it’s fairly easy to find discounts and savings. In fact, here are 3 ways that I save on car insurance:

1. Good Driving Record

The best way to save on car insurance is to have a good driving record. I haven’t received a traffic ticket in 14 years. Even though I was involved in an accident a couple of years ago, I wasn’t the at-fault party, and so it didn’t “count” against me for insurance purposes.

My good driving record means that I am eligible for lower premiums. (It also helps that I am female and over the age of 25.) Defensive driving is one way to ensure that you keep your car insurance costs low. I rarely speed, I am careful to observe traffic laws and I do my best to avoid dangerous practices. This conscientiousness might be boring, but it’s helped me avoid paying for tickets — and it’s helped me avoid higher premiums.

2. Multi-Line Discount

Many car insurance companies also offer other policy options. When you get additional coverage with the same company, you can usually get a discount on everything. My renters insurance is through the same company as my car insurance, and so is my term life policy.

Because I have multiple policies with my insurer, I get a discount on my car insurance. At some point, my son will drive and I will also receive a multi-car discount — although that might be offset by the fact that teenagers are notoriously expensive to insure.

If you have your policies spread out across different insurers, run the numbers. See if you can do a little consolidating and get a break on your car insurance premium. You might even get discounts on your other policies as well.

3. Good Credit

Finally, I save on car insurance by having good credit. Not all states allow insurers to use your credit history when determining your insurance premium, but I have been fortunate to see discounts on my car insurance just because I have good credit.

Some insurers view a good credit reputation as an indicator that you are generally responsible in multiple aspects of your life. This can translate to lower costs for insurance in some cases. I find it’s helped me, and it’s something that I am lucky enough to be able to control.

There are other ways to get discounts from your insurance provider. As you shop around for car insurance, find out what discounts are available, and what you can do to reduce your costs. From healthy living (for health insurance) to a lack of claims to the way you manage money, you might be surprised at the ways you can lower your costs while still protecting your assets.

One of the great things about running a home business can be the low overhead costs. Depending on what you’re doing for income from home, you can usually get away with small expenses. Even better is the fact that there are tax deductions available to you when you have a home business:

Business Use of Your Home

First of all, if you have a dedicated area for your home business, you can deduct its cost. This can be a percentage of your mortgage payment or rent payment. You can even deduct a percentage of your utilities. New rules for deducting your home office on your taxes make it even easier, offering a flat rate deduction. You can consult with a tax professional to decide whether to figure your deduction based on a percentage or based on the flat rate.

Office Supplies and Equipment

You can also deduct the office supplies and equipment that you buy for your home business. It’s important to understand that you need to keep good records, as well as make sure that you use the supplies and equipment only for your business. You aren’t supposed to deduct items that you use for personal purposes as well. Your business tax deductions should be based on what you use in your business.

Insurance Costs

If you are paying for your own insurance as a result of being self-employed, you can deduct some of those costs. I am able to deduct a portion of my health insurance since I pay for that as a result of running my own business. There might be other insurance costs that you can deduct as well. Check with your accountant or other tax professional to determine what costs are tax-deductible.

Trade Association Memberships

Joining a trade association or professional organization can provide you with networking opportunities and other business benefits. If you join an organization related to your business, you might be able to deduct the cost of the membership. Local membership in town that can help you advance your business, such as a membership to the Chamber of Commerce, might also be tax-deductible.

Travel

Even travel can be tax-deductible, as long as you are traveling for business purposes. When you travel to meet with a client or a vendor, or if you travel to attend an industry conference, you can deduct many of your costs. Airfare, hotel costs and even ground transportation costs can be deducted from your business income. It’s even possible to deduct a portion of your meals. In order to make these deductions, you should be sure that you are clearly traveling for business purposes and that you keep the receipts and other records.

You can deduct a portion of business meals that you eat with clients and partners as well. However, it makes sense to keep the receipt and make a record of who you met with and what was discussed. You need to show the IRS that you really have been benefiting your business with your choices.

In the end, it’s possible to deduct quite a bit when it comes to your home business. But, when in doubt, double-check and make sure you have good records.

When you’re thinking about money, chances are you are dissatisfied. This isn’t uncommon. Often, we run into situations in which we aren’t happy because we spend so much time doing things we don’t want to do, and we don’t always have enough money to spend on what we want the most.

In order to change things, it can help to take a step back, look at the situation, and then use your life goals to make a spending plan.

Decide What You Want from Life

Your first step is to decide what you want from life. Think about what is most important to you. Family? Faith? Community? Travel? Nice things? There are no wrong answers. It’s just about what you want most in your life.

Once you decide what really matters to you, you can figure out what steps you need to take in order to reach your goals. Really understanding your priorities is key to success in this matter. If you don’t know what you want, it doesn’t really matter in the end. Figuring out what you want from life is essential if you want to incorporate that into your spending plan.

Identify the Spending that is Holding You Back

After deciding what you want in life, and the steps you need to take to achieve it, it’s time to look at what might be holding you back. When I looked at the way I used my money, I realized that I spent money on things I didn’t care about. I value experiences, yet I kept spending money on trinkets and gadgets that didn’t matter to me.

I also realized that I had to spend more time working because I was paying for an expensive lifestyle that didn’t offer me much in the way of satisfaction. Changing things around, and cutting out the spending that didn’t matter to me, freed up quite a bit of money for me to put into what brings me satisfaction. I was also able to reduce my workload because my simpler lifestyle doesn’t require as much income to maintain.

It can be hard to change some habits, and you might have to contend with the need to pay down debt as well. However, if you can bring your spending in line with what matters to you, you’ll feel better about your situation, and you’ll eventually be able to dig out of the debt hole.

Plan Your Resource Use Around Goals

Don’t forget the long-term planning. You’ll want to plan your financial resource use around the specific goals you have for the future. For me, my priorities include setting money aside for emergencies and for retirement in addition to taking care of basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. I also make sure I have the time to volunteer in the community and spend time with my son. I’ve also started a “travel fund” so that money is automatically deposited in an account for that purpose. That way, I can plan for great trips without messing up my budget.

Creating a plan for your resources, based around what you want your life to look like, can help you trim the fat from your budget and live a more satisfying life.

Self-improvement is one of those things that many of us don’t really think of as an investment. After all, our efforts to improve ourselves often cost money. Whether you are paying for music lessons or paying for an Audible account so you can listen to helpful books, self-improvement often comes with a monetary cost — and few tangible benefits.

Before you decide that self-improvement is a waste of time, however, here are 3 good reasons to invest in yourself:

1. Keep Your Mind Sharp

Self-improvement is one good way to keep your mind sharp. Studies indicate that your mind can benefit from learning new things. Whether you are keeping up with a hobby, taking a class at the local university or just remaining well-informed, you can keep your mind sharp with the help of self-improvement. Engaging your mind keeps it elastic and can slow the effects of time and age on your brain.

On top of that, you can also battle anxiety and depression with the help of self-improvement activities. This can help your mental health in the long run, even if you don’t see a lot of immediate financial benefit. Consider investing in yourself in a way that keeps your mind sharp, and you’ll be glad you did for years to come.

2. Make New Connections

Your efforts to improve yourself can lead to new connections. When you take a class or pick up a new hobby, there is a good chance that you will make new connections. Volunteer opportunities in your hometown can provide you with fulfillment and ways to improve yourself, as well as introduce you to new people.

Improving yourself in this way can lead to tangible financial benefits by expanding your network. The person sitting next to you in that community education class, or the person you meet while engaging in charitable work might be someone who can give you the inside track on a job opening or become your next business partner.

Not only can you benefit in your career and finances from making new connections, but your quality of life can also increase. Social interactions can help you feel better about yourself and feel more satisfied and connected in your life. Make it a point to get to know others while you are working on your self-improvement, and you find a number of benefits.

3. Enjoy Life More

You can’t put a price on a high quality of life. If you want to enjoy life more, take the time to invest in yourself. I know that my life is more interesting and satisfying when I am developing my music skills and learning interesting things about others than when I am watching TV. When I strive to improve my mind and my health, I feel more satisfied with where I am and what I’m doing. This goes a long way toward helping me avoid falling into the trap of “shopping therapy” and other escapes that lead to spending on things that I don’t really care about.

As you continue to improve yourself, consider it an investment in yourself and in your quality of life. You’ll see the returns — even if it doesn’t always have to do with money.