9 Simple Money Moves Every Californian Should Make Before Their Next Paycheck

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Let’s say you live in the Golden State, you’re getting squeezed by crazy-high housing costs and your finances could use some serious TLC, but you’ve been putting it off.

When you finally do sit down to think about it, you get overwhelmed. Which goal to attack first? You need a budget, a savings plan, a debt-repayment strategy, a better credit score, a plan for retirement and … oh God, it’s too much.

To tackle big goals, you have to start small.

Here are some simple steps you can take today to get your finances under control.

1. Enjoy a No-Spend Day

Farmers market? Museum? Nature? It’s easy to get sucked into spending money on weekend outings, but there are plenty of free activities you can do today, instead.

You can search your local newspaper, magazines or websites for plenty of ideas. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Go on a penny date. The rules are simple: Have your date or a family member pick a number between one and 30, pick a street corner and have them flip the penny. If it’s heads up, turn right. If it’s tails up, turn left. Do this at each intersection for whatever number they chose. Wherever you end up is where you’ll spend the day.
  • If the weather’s nice and you live near a body of water, head to the beach for the day! The beach offers a full day of entertainment and relaxation at potentially no cost.
  • Not near a beach? Plan a day of hiking. You can find a ton of free tails. (If you live near a national park, take advantage of the free admission days.)
  • The library is a treasure trove of freebies, including free museum passes. Maybe you’ll even check out a book or two.

2. This Company Will Pay You to Do the Dishes at Night

Tanya Williams plays with her youngest son, Noah, 4, before watching a movie in their home in Visalia, Calif., Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Chances are, you’re doing the dishes right after dinner just like everyone else in California. Here’s the thing: All these dishwashers running at the same time costs the power company more money.

That’s why a new company called OhmConnect will pay you to do the dishes just a little bit later.

Here’s how it works: OhmConnect will send you a text when a lot of people in your area are using power, and it will pay you to cut back for an hour —   whether that means waiting to run the dishwasher, turning off your lights or A/C or even turning off your breaker.

The more you do, the more money you can make.

For example, Tanya Williams recently earned an extra $1,700 in one year with OhmConnect. A few evenings each week, the 45-year-old stay-at-home mom shut down her home’s electrical panel and took the kids to the pool or just played board games.

Talk about easy money. Sign up for a free OhmConnect account here and then sync it with your online utility account through PG&E, SDG&E or Southern California Edison to start earning extra cash.

3. Leave Your Family $1M (Without $1M in the Bank)

A man with curly long hair sorts through his cash while also being on his computer.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Oh, to be a millionaire. Look, not all of us have the money to set up trust funds for our loved ones. But you could still leave them a $1 million — and you don’t even need to have the money in the bank.

A company called Bestow can help you leave your family up to $1 million in term life insurance, and it can cost less than your monthly Netflix subscription.

We get it — it’s one more bill, and who has time to sign up? But if you were born after 1966, you can take advantage of Bestow. You don’t even need to leave your house.

We hear people are paying as little as $8 a month. (But every year you wait, this gets more expensive.)

It takes just minutes to sign up and see how much inheritance you can leave your loved ones — even if you don’t have seven figures in your bank account.

4. Cancel Your Car Insurance

People love to tell you to shop around. “You should be getting three different quotes to get the best price on car insurance,” they say.

Sure, this sounds like good advice. Here’s why it’s wrong: Comparing only three companies isn’t nearly enough. We suggest comparing 40. But who has time for that?

A company called Gabi will do it for you for free. It gets Californians an average of $825 back in their bank accounts a year — and you’ll get the same coverage you already have.

It doesn’t matter when you last renewed; you can get a check from your old company for the time left on your previous policy. (Read: They probably owe you money.)

You don’t have to make any calls or fill out any forms. It takes two minutes to see how much Gabi can put back in your pocket. And the best part? Because we’re driving less, some insurers are slashing prices this month.

5. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

Two hands reaching out to each other.
Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

No, like… the whole bill. All of it. All that debt racked up from the 300 destination weddings your friends made you attend (thanks!) could be paid by the end of this month.

Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out. A website called AmOne knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: AmOne will match you with a loan that’ll cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

Now you can finally stop holding a grudge against that friend who thought a Mexico wedding was a good idea.

6. See if You Can Get More Money From This Company

a woman logs into her bank account on her cell phone.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash right now?

Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 5% back every time you swipe.

Need to buy groceries? Extra cash.

Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Even more extra cash.

You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process?

Enter your email address here, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

7. Add $225 to Your Wallet Just for Watching the News

It’s been a historic year in news, and we’re all constantly refreshing for the latest updates. You probably know more than one news-junkie who fancies themselves an expert in respiratory illness or a political mastermind.

And while you’re waiting for your next stimulus check, research companies want to pay you to keep watching. You could add up to $225 a month to your pocket by signing up for a free account with Swagbucks. They’ll present you with short news clips to choose from every day, then ask you a few questions about them.

You just have to answer honestly, and Swagbucks will continue to pay you every month. This might sound too good to be true, but it’s already paid its users more than $429 million. We talked to one user in Pennsylvania, 52-year-old Carolinda Hendrickson, who earned $1,200 in a year.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and start getting paid to watch the news.

8. Use $5 to Buy a Piece of a Company

Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company.But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

That’s why a lot of people use the app Stash. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies. That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google or Apple, for as little as $1.

The best part? When these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.

It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.

 

9. Cancel Your Homeowners Insurance

You’re probably wasting money right now. And it’s probably on something you’d never expect — your homeowners insurance policy.

This isn’t something you actively think about. You just know you’re required to have it, so you’re stuck with it forever, right?

Wrong. The problem is, you’re paying too much. Luckily, an insurance company called Hippo could cut this year’s bill by up to 25%.

We know what you’re thinking. Getting homeowners insurance was a pain the first time you bought it. But with Hippo, it only takes 60 seconds to grab a free quote online.

Even better, Hippo will show you extra ways to cut that bill. Got a fire extinguisher in your home? Belong to an HOA? That could mean another combined 5% to 15% in savings.

After you get your free quote, you could have new insurance in as little as 10 minutes.

*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.