You’re the Boss: Here’s How to Make Your Money Start Working for You

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“Make your money work for you.”

We say it quite a bit around here. You probably hear it anywhere you seek financial advice or information.

You’ve got to get that money out from under the mattress, out of a stagnant savings account, out of an ill-run retirement account. You’ve got to learn better options so you can start making your money work for you.

But what does it mean?

It means you can turn the money you have into more money.

Pretty sweet idea, right? We’re usually talking about investing, as that’s the most straightforward way to turn your existing money into more money.

That includes the big stuff — like putting money into a business and earning more in return, or buying real estate and renting or selling it for profit.

It also includes the more common stuff, like saving for retirement.

You could stick 4% of every paycheck in the bank each year and have, like, $100,000 saved by the time you retire. That sounds fine, but it won’t last long.

Instead, you stick that same money into a retirement account, and it grows to, say, a cool million dollars that’ll get you through a couple decades of retirement.

That’s making your money work for you.

Here are a few tools to help you be a tough boss and ensure your money’s hard at work.

1. Check in on Your 401(k)

Got a 401(k)? You’re on the right track.

Now, you just need to make sure it’s doing what you need it to. However, tapping into that account and deciphering the information — or lack thereof — can be hard.

There’s a robo-advisor for that called Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that will optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

A few of us Penny Hoarders already use the service. It gives you an initial 401(k) checkup for free, and you’ll get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many hidden fees, have the appropriate amount invested in stocks versus bonds, that kind of fun stuff.

Let Blooom know your target retirement age, and it can help you get there by investing more or less aggressively.

2. Investing for Beginners (Who Don’t Have a Lot of Money)

Outside of your retirement plan, what are you doing to grow your money?

It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money.

Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.

But Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000.

Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money.

But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

Bonus: Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to give you an extra $5 after your first investment.

3. Grow Your Savings More Than 20x Faster

If you’re saving some money for your future, that’s great! But if your savings are in a typical bank account, chances are your money isn’t growing as quickly as it could be.

But there’s a legitimate way to grow it a lot faster than the average person — more than 20 times faster.

It’s with a mobile banking app called Varo. The FDIC reports that the average savings account pays a paltry .08% APY*, but when you open an online checking and savings account with Varo, it will pay you more than 20 times that amount on your savings account.

Oh, and there are no monthly fees.

We know opening a new bank account isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun, but Varo makes it easy. You can open an account with just a penny, and more than 750,000 people have already signed up.


4. Get Money Back for Everything You Buy

Regardless of how frugal or financially savvy you are, you still have to spend money on the regular to get by. You’ll have to shop for groceries — and other essentials, like wine, fresh clothes and that new Bestseller everyone’s been talking about.

Want more tips on how to save money on groceries? Check out these 28 ways to save $100 or more.

Make the most of these purchases — even the indulgent ones — by earning money back every time you shop.

These cash-back sites and apps will help you get started:

  • Ebates: This platform has everything — from rebates to deals to promo codes to discounts. It’s always worth checking before venturing out (or online) for a shopping trip.
  • Ibotta: This gem helps you save big on groceries, booze and more just by snapping a photo of your receipt after you shop.
  • Capital One Shopping Price Protection: It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued? One of our secret weapons is called Capital One Shopping Price Protection — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Capital One Shopping Price Protection will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping.
  • MyPoints: Shopping through the online MyPoints portal earns you points with each purchase, which you can cash in for gift cards to major retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

Capital One Shopping Price Protection compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

This article contains general information and explains options you may have, but it is not intended to be investment advice or a personal recommendation. We can't personalize articles for our readers, so your situation may vary from the one discussed here. Please seek a licensed professional for tax advice, legal advice, financial planning advice or investment advice.