How Real People Grow Their Wealth

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For most people, wealth does not come in a windfall but instead gathers gradually as a result of years of hard work and diligence.

Bankrate readers offer their tips for growing wealth. You'll find no winning lottery numbers or surefire stock recommendations among them, but all are sensible suggestions for savings.

1. Grow your own food
I have a plot in our local community garden that I share with two of my friends.

It is a fun, inexpensive hobby for us -- plus it keeps us active and teaches our children important life skills.

We keep our 20- by 30-foot parcel planted year-round, and it provides our three families with fresh, organic produce.
-- Anonymous

2. Set limits and stick to them
I try to save at least three to four part-time paychecks so that I can elect to make a hefty payment on a credit card account and buy myself a little something I waited to get.

Also, I have inventoried my home and gathered up all half-full or almost empty bottles of lotions, soaps, hair creams, cleaning products and vowed not to make a purchase until we absolutely had not one drop of a particular thing. So I have not been to the store to buy these items -- including makeup and colognes.

I limit my driving and only buy $20 (of gas) at a time about once a week ... so $80 a month. Not an ounce more.

As for groceries, I am using only fresh or frozen vegetables. At the store I purchase only the item that is $0.99 per pound and pull out my cookbook to find an exciting way to cook it and make great meals. Chicken can be cooked 100 different ways.
-- Sharon Dorsey

3. Buy savings bonds
I have always made a 10 percent deduction on my pay.

If you do it every week, you will see that you don't miss it. After a few years it can really accumulate into a nice sum of savings. The best vehicle is savings bonds. You buy them and just hold them.
-- Michael de Gennaro

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4. Redirect your raises
Anytime I get a raise or a bonus, I don't have the additional money deposited into my checking account.

I have already proven I can live without the money, so first I direct it to my 401(k).

Once I maxed out my 401(k) contributions, my raises went directly into my HSA.

Once that was maxed out, they went directly into a savings account.

I now have my 401(k) fully invested, my HSA fully funded and a great emergency fund.
-- Sam Hohman

5. Split raises in half
Each and every job raise should be split -- half you keep and half is put into a monthly retirement vehicle. It is a foolproof way to retire early.
-- Chere

6. Track spending
Tracking spending (even for 30 days) allows you to know exactly what you spend.

Have you ever gone to the ATM and two days later asked yourself, "I know I got $60 on Tuesday -- where did it go?"

You may remember some of it, but you will not remember all of it. Tracking spending takes out the guesswork and puts you firmly in control of your finances.

From there, it's easy to determine what you can cut or, better yet, what you can save.

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