Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: Here’s How to Live Your Best Life in 2019
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, we’re already well into the holiday season, and I find myself staring down the year 2019.
Yikes, it feels wrong just writing that number. But here I am, ready to face the first official New Year’s Eve of my 30s.
Yep, I’m a 30-year-old saddled with debt and just enough motivation to make it two-and-a-half minutes on the stationary bike.
That means it’s time to buckle down and make some real resolutions. And, you know, actually stick to them.
But more than accomplishing a few specific goals, 2019 can also be the year we all live our best lives — the way one of our favorite founding fathers envisioned: healthy, wealthy and wise.
Yep, Ben Franklin had some major keys to success long before DJ Khaled signed up for Instagram.
So to help you get your wallet, waist and wits in order, here are some ways to stay healthy, wealthy and wise in 2019.
Hey, Franklin was on the $100 bill after all.
1. Beef up Your Financial Knowhow and Stay on Top of Your Credit Score
This one hits every angle of a healthy, wealthy and wise 2019.
Finding out your credit score will not only get you on track to tackling your financial well-being, but it will also save you money in the long run — and give you the peace of mind to get a restful night’s sleep (even if your score needs some work).
Credit Sesame is an online service that will give you a free credit report card, which includes that all-important credit score.
And here’s the best part: The service will also tell you why you scored that dreaded “D,” and provide simple recommendations for how to climb your way back to the the top of your financial class.
Melinda Smieja, a Washington mom, managed to pay off nine credit cards and raised her credit score by 284 points using Credit Sesame as a debt-busting springboard.
Already feeling that tension in your neck loosening up, right?
2. Get in Shape and Make Some Easy Cash on the Side
With how hard it can be just to drag myself out of bed for work in the morning, you’d be hard-pressed to get me to wake up an hour earlier to head to the gym.
But, if you told me I could get paid for working out? Say no more, fam.
HealthyWage is a company that will literally pay you to lose weight.
Here’s how it works: You place a bet on how much weight you think you can lose in a given time period, and HealthyWage calculates a prize you’ll win if you smash that goal (which we know you totally will).
Just head to the HealthyWage Prize Calculator to get started.
Ready to jump on the fitness train? We’ve got a guide on the gyms where you will get the best bang for your buck.
Never forget, a Sports Illustrated writer once referred to Franklin’s body as “slope-shouldered” and “smoothly muscled.”
He definitely lifted.
3. Try Out Micro-Investing to Take Some Wall Street Baby Steps
If you’re like me, you’ll blow through tons of savings and maybe even rack up some debt this holiday season. So 2019 is definitely a year to focus on getting wealthy.
Instead of juggling a bunch of side hustles, put your money to work for you by investing in the stock market.
But wait, isn’t that only for the moneyed elite — not this lowly writer scrounging for couch-cushion quarters?
Acorns, a micro-investment app, connects to your bank account, credit and debit cards and invests your digital spare change. That is, it rounds up purchases on the connected card to the next dollar and pushes it into your Acorns account.
After setting up a financial profile, the app then invests the funds in that account in a chosen portfolio. One of our writers saved $116 in a few months.
Stash lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee. (The first month is free.)
Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money. But it leaves out the complicated investment terms. 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!
4. Stare Down Those Student Loans and Yell, ‘Enough!’
OK, so it doesn’t have to be that dramatic, but you’ll be wiser and wealthier to get a head start on tackling that crippling student loan debt.
And refinancing may be your best option to save some major cash in the long run by lowering your monthly payment or even your overall interest rate.
Credible, an online marketplace for refinancing deals, makes it easy to find the best choice for you. And even after shopping around for a new rate, it won’t affect your credit score. Nice.
John DePrato, a graduate struggling with debt from his bachelor’s degree and MBA, cut his monthly student-loan payments in half with Credible. With those monthly obligations dropping from $850 to $400, he was able to build a new home with his wife.
Talk about a feel-good New Year’s resolution story.
5. Ditch the Brick-and-Mortar Bank and Go Digital With Your Accounts
There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up at your bank to protest an overdraft fee, only to wait in line for an hour to make your case. So much for your lunch break.
There’s another way, and it’ll help beef up your savings to make 2019 the wealthiest year of your life.
Chime, an online-only, fee-free bank account, will let you open an FDIC-insured account with more than 24,000 fee-free ATMs (score!) without any monthly payments. Say goodbye to those sneaky bank fees in 2019.
And besides saving money on fees, Chime also makes it simple to boost those savings. Link the app with your paycheck, and it’ll automatically carve out a portion and tuck it away into your secret stash.
You can also set up an option to round purchases up to the next dollar and funnel that digital change into your savings.
Your finances won’t be taken by surprise when the 2019 holiday season rolls around.
6. Turn Your Spare Bedroom Into a Moneymaking Machine
Have a spare room? Might as well use it to make some money by listing it on Airbnb.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
And there’s no reason you can’t be creative. We even found a guy that earns $1,380 a month renting out a backyard tent on Airbnb.
Taking a few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.
7. Start Kickin’
No extreme physical activity resulting in pulled muscles is required for this money-making trick. All you need to do is download the Shopkick app.
Once you sign up, the app pays you in “kicks” for walking into certain stores (including Walmart, Target, TJMaxx and more). These can be redeemed for gift cards to a number of retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora and Best Buy.
It pays you even more “kicks” for photos of receipts that include qualifying items you purchased in-store with a connected credit or debit card. You can also earn kicks for online purchases. Bonus: You don’t have to do anything; your linked cards will automatically apply your kicks.
We’ve got an ultimate guide to using the app here.
8. Make Some Cash on the Side by Driving for Lyft or Uber
Enjoy finding the best route around town? Why not try to get paid for it?
As a driver partner with Uber, you create your own schedule and drive when you want.
If you want to give it a try here are a few things to keep in mind: You must be at least 21 years old, have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under 23 years old), have a valid U.S. driver’s license and pass a background check.
Also, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state and be covered by insurance.
Because it’s simple to switch between apps, many Uber partners also sign up to drive with Lyft.
We talked to Paul Pruce, who’d been driving full-time with Lyft for over a year and earning $750 a week as a driver. Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!
To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.
Now that you’ve got a jump on making 2019 the year of staying healthy, wealthy and wise, all you need is some knickerbockers and an old pair of bi-focals to truly get your Ben Franklin on.
Just kidding. Kind of…
Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He’s ready to crush his 2019 New year’s resolutions. And he looks great in wire-frame specs.