9 Things to Do if You’re Hiding Money Problems
Cutting off price tags and throwing away evidence of your latest shopping spree before the family gets home? Dining on extravagant meals you can’t really afford? When it comes to money, we’ve all done a couple of things we’re not proud of.
But what if it goes a little beyond that?
You’re not alone. An April 2022 Paycheck-to-Paycheck report* shows that over the past 12 months, nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population has been living paycheck to paycheck. And of these people, 22% are having issues paying all their bills.
So, yeah, everything is not fine — and trying to keep it on the down-low isn’t going to fix it. Here are our best tips for digging yourself out of your secret financial trouble.
1. Have an Open and Honest Conversation
You may have noticed it’s a lot easier to talk to strangers about your money problems — hey, we’re glad you found us! But when it comes to sharing with friends and family, we’re all at least a little afraid of being judged.
You don’t have to tell everyone you know, but no matter how awkward, it’s essential to have those tough money conversations with the people your financial mistakes may impact.
Why? You know why. If you want your most important relationships to be successful, you need to be willing to have open and honest conversations. After all, the people who love you the most are also going to be the best at giving you the support you need while also holding you accountable.
And for what it’s worth, in a 2021 survey on financial infidelity, 20% of people who were impacted by a partner’s financial deception said that after it was all said and done, they were able to grow closer because of it.**
2. Let This App Pay You up to $83 When You Win Solitaire Games
If you’re hiding money problems, you could probably use some extra cash, right?
Well, there’s a free iPhone app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for real money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.
You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?
Wrong. There really isn’t a catch. Most of the games are free, but cash players can join higher-stakes tournaments for bigger cash prizes. But there’s no pressure — there aren’t even any annoying ads.
With each game, you’ll battle it out against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck, so winning is totally a matter of skill. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.
Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).
To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.
3. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape… not to mention the shame you might feel about keeping it a secret.
On top of that, you realize your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to 36%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 2.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
You don’t need a perfect credit score to get a loan — and comparing your options won’t affect your score at all. Plus, AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes less than a minute and just 10 questions to see what loans you qualify for — you don’t even need to enter your Social Security number. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
4. Find Out If You’re Overpaying
Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Target and are about to overpay?
That’s exactly what this Capital One Shopping does.
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.
In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.
You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
5. Get Paid Up to $140/Month Just for Sharing Your Honest Opinion
It sounds strange, but brands want to hear your opinion. It helps them make business decisions, so they’re willing to pay you for it — up to $140 a month.
A free site called Branded Surveys will pay you up to $5 per survey for sharing your thoughts with their brand partners. Taking three quick surveys a day could earn up to $140 each month.
It takes just a minute to create a free account and start getting paid to speak your mind. Most surveys take five to 15 minutes, and you can check how long they’ll take ahead of time.
And you don’t need to build up tons of money to cash out, either — once you earn $5, you can cash out via PayPal, your bank account, a gift card or Amazon. You’ll get paid within 48 hours of your payout being processed, just for sharing your opinions.
They’ve already paid users more than $20 million since 2012, and the most active users can earn a few hundred dollars a month. Plus, they’ve got an “excellent” rating on Trustpilot.
It takes just a minute to set up your account and start getting paid to take surveys. Plus, right now, you’ll get a free 100-point welcome bonus just for becoming part of the community.
6. Add up to $526.44 to Your Wallet When You Shop at Walmart
You know you need to get your spending under control, but you still need to buy things you need, right? Chances are, you do some of your shopping at Walmart. But we seriously doubt you’re getting paid for it.
It sounds weird, but a free site called Rakuten will pay you when you shop online at Target, Walmart, Macy’s, and tons of other stores.
They work with just about every online store you probably shop at, and they can make sure you get some cash back every time you buy — up to 15% cash back.
We talked to Denver resident Colleen Rice, who’s earned more than $526.44 in cash back since she started using Rakuten. For doing nothing. She just uses Rakuten for things she already has to buy, like rental cars and flights.
It takes less than a minute to open a Rakuten account and start shopping like you normally would. You just need an email address.
They’ll pay you with a check in the mail every few months or deposit it to your PayPal account. Talk about money for nothing.
7. This Guy Added Nearly 300 Points to his Credit Score — See How You Can Raise Yours, Too*
If your secret money problems have wrecked your credit score, it could seriously hold you back from reaching your goals.
The good news? A free website called Credit Sesame makes it easy to put your credit score on track to reach your goals. We even talked to one guy, James Cooper, of Atlanta, who used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** He says they showed him exactly what to do — he was even able to open his first credit card.
What could adding 300 points to your score mean for your goals? It could easily save you thousands of dollars over the life of a car loan or mortgage.
Within 90 seconds, Credit Sesame will give you access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
Make sure your plans don’t get sidelined by bad credit. Sign up for free (it only takes about 90 seconds) and see how much you could improve your score.
8. Budget, Budget, Budget. Sorry, But You Have to Create a Budget
If you’re serious about cleaning up your financial act, you’ll need to create a budget. Budgeting is no fun. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at where you’re spending and where you can cut back. Plus, sticking to your budget will help you build healthy money habits that keep you out of trouble.
If you’re not sure where to even start, we favor the 50/20/30 budgeting method for its simplicity. Here’s how it works:
- 50% of your income goes toward essentials.
- 20% goes toward financial goals.
- 30% goes toward personal spending.
The key is to accept you can’t create the perfect budget in an hour. You’ll have to be flexible and experiment to find what works best for you.
9. Work with a Financial Counselor
If you’re still feeling completely overwhelmed by the situation you’re in, maybe it’s time to try a financial counselor.
Sure, your regular therapist could tell you why you’re hiding money problems. But an accredited financial counselor (AFC) can do the same thing, plus get you on the path to financial wellness. You’ve got this!
Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.
***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.