8 Smart Money Moves to Make If Financial Worries Keep You up at Night
I have this magical talent that means I can fall asleep pretty much anywhere, anytime.
A crowded, noisy baseball game? I’ve slept there.
Curled up in the middle seat on an uncomfortably tiny airplane? No problem; I’m out like a light before takeoff.
But in my own bed at night? No way.
You see, the minute my head hits the pillow, my mind starts to wander and, more often than not, it lands on money.
Budgets, bills, that ever-looming mountain of debt — and that’s all before I even get to the question of when (or if) I’ll ever be able to retire.
Sleepless nights happen to all of us, and so does worrying about money.
But there’s a better way to while away the wee hours of the morning — and quiet those nagging fears.
Here are our tricks for taking control of your finances — most of which you can do in the time you would spend tossing and turning with worry tonight.
Money Moves to Make When You Can’t Sleep
Here are some money moves to make the next time financial worries keep you up at night:
1. Make Extra Cash by Sharing Your Late-Night Opinions
Surveys aren’t the best way to make money fast, but there’s a certain appeal to clicking a few buttons and earning money when you’d otherwise be lying in bed counting the ceiling fan rotations.
Besides, we’re all at our most honest when we’re a little sleep deprived, right?
Check out these survey apps to get started:
- Ipsos I-Say: You might recognize the Ipsos Panel name because it’s the same company that does most of the political polling during elections. Some of the top-end surveys can pay up to $95, but those are rare and can take awhile to complete. Most surveys pay a buck or two and only take 10 to 15 minutes.
- Opinion Outpost offers surveys from all kinds of businesses and organizations. Most of them take around 10 minutes to complete and will earn you points you can redeem for free gift cards to places like Amazon and iTunes. Plus, the site has a quarterly drawing for a $10,000 cash prize — and for every survey you complete, you’ll get one entry into the sweepstakes! I mean, that would almost make the whole “no sleep” thing worth it, right?
- InboxDollars offers several short, daily surveys you can take. If you take all of them each night, you could earn an extra $730 a year — not too bad.
- Harris Poll will pay you to join panels and answer questions. Most surveys pay between $3 and $4 each for 20 minutes of your time, so you could be earning $9 to $12 for every sleepless hour you log.
2. Try Your Luck on Lucktastic’s Virtual Scratch-off Tickets
There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, but it’s better to avoid them because, well, that’s not Penny Hoarding.
But if you need something mindless to do while lying in bed, try making a little extra money by using a free app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000, and you can also earn tokens, enter contests and play games.
The app is free to download — and play. So if you can’t get to sleepin’, get to scratchin’ instead.
3. Find out Whether You’re Paying Too Much for Car Insurance
For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?
Yes. There’s no getting around car insurance, unfortunately. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.
So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?
The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.
Here’s how it works:
- Head over to The Zebra’s search platform. Enter your car’s year, make and model, and your zip code. Continue on to answer questions about your driving habits, your car and your life.
On the right sidebar, you’ll watch rates increase or decrease based on your answers. For example, if you’ve gotten into an accident — that was your fault — in the past three years, your rates will kick up. It’s interesting to see what effect your answers might have.
- After about two minutes of questions, it’s time to compare. The Zebra gives you an “Insurability Score,” which is similar to your credit score except it’s for car insurance, and it teaches you how to get better rates. The site also gives you different options for coverage.
4. Negotiate Your Bills Down Using Trim
We know you won’t be ditching your internet provider anytime soon. (How else would you live-Tweet your sleepless nights?)
But the price of internet — and cable, if you’re still into that kind of thing — certainly isn’t decreasing. If anything, prices are steadily climbing.
So if you’re ready to negotiate your bills down, but the thought of calling your cable provider in the morning fills you with more dread than the act of calculating exactly how much sleep you’ll get if you fall asleep right this second, it might be time to call in a robot.
The negotiation bot Trim will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.
You can sign up simply with Facebook or your email address. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.
Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you.
Trim takes 25% of the savings tab, and you get the rest.
5. Start Investing With Stash
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 fund your first investment — so you’ll get a $5 bonus to get started!
6. Take the Time to Create a Budget
If you’re up late worrying about your finances, it’s probably because you checked your bank statement, only to see a balance you didn’t expect (and not in a good way).
One simple way to feel more in control of your finances is to create a budget.
If you’ve never created a budget before — or if you’ve tried and failed to stick to one — it’s probably because you haven’t found the right budgeting method for your lifestyle yet.
And not to nerd out on you too much here, but it can actually be pretty soothing to create a budget. It’s pretty crazy how quickly visualizing all of your finances in manageable chunks can put your mind at ease, allowing you to finally get some blessed sleep.
7. Make a Plan to Start Paying off Your Loans
You could create the perfect sleeping conditions — cold air blasting, white noise humming, windows blacked out — and still, if you’re worrying about looming debts, you’ll never get a decent night’s sleep.
Creating a plan to pay off debt, whether it’s aggressive or a little less so, will help you feel more in control when payments are due each month — and when you’re ready to hit the hay.
8. Understand Your Credit Score
Listen, it can be scary to check your credit score.
But if you haven’t even the slightest idea of what your number could be, it’s probably more stressful at this point to have no information at all. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power, and power over your finances (and your sleep schedule) starts with understanding all the details.
If your understanding of credit scores is as dim as the light outside your bedroom window (the same one you look at as you toss and turn all night), here’s an explainer that will help you get familiar with credit scores — including how yours is calculated and what it’s used for.
Once you know what to look for, you can check your credit score for free through Credit Sesame.
Then, you can start taking steps to bring it up — even if it’s one point at a time.
Now go get some sleep — I’d say you’ve earned it!
Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.