How to Manage Your Money If You Make Less Than $60,000/Year

a woman sits at a table with a worried expression on her face and holds a credit card.
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You know your finances could use some serious TLC, but you’ve been putting it off… and off… and off.

When you finally do sit down to think about it, you immediately become overwhelmed. Which goal do you attack first? You need a budget, a savings plan, a debt-repayment strategy, a better credit score, a plan for retirement and… oh, you’re running away again, aren’t you?

How to Manage Your Family Budget on Less Than $60,000/Year

Let’s face it — after taxes, that salary goes pretty quickly.

Calm down and come back. To tackle big goals, you have to start small. Here are 11 simple steps to help you manage your family budget.

1. Simplify Your Budget

An opened budget journal lies atop a bed.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

An integral part of managing your money is creating a budget. Ew, gross. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at what you’re spending and where.

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. Take the time to experiment to find what works best for your salary of less than 60k, then use the extra money to grow your budget. Win-win.

2. Grab an Extra $225/Month in Income

Most of you already know about InboxDollars, but did you know that it will pay you to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news and dozens of other videos? Plus, you’ll get a bonus $5 just for signing up.

You need to watch all of the shows in a specific playlist to earn your bucks, so be prepared. InboxDollars lets you know how long the playlist runs before you start watching, and playlists range from a few minutes to about a half hour.

The availability is subject to change, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month watching these videos!

3. Let This Company Pay Off Your Credit Cards

A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.

That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest.

Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit card and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.

If your credit score is at least 620, you can borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 3.84%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.

Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $12,000 in credit-card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $12,000 in interest.

If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.

So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, know that checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.

4. Get a Free $5 to Buy Your First Stock

cash back apps
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It can be a little scary to start investing in the stock market, so consider starting an investment account through Acorns.

You can start with $5 and they’ll show you what to do. Plus you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.

The next step is to stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.

Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.

The idea is that you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic investments stack up faster than you’d think. For example, Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to invest at a rate of $420 a year. That means you could set aside $1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.

The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and don’t forget — you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.

5. Find out If You’re Paying Too Much for Car Insurance

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You’re probably overpaying for car insurance. And how would you know, really?

Have you shopped around lately? Have you compared rates from the 20 largest auto insurers that do business in your area? That sounds kind of difficult and time-consuming, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, a service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work.

Once you link your insurance account to Gabi, it will:

  • Scan your existing insurance plan.
  • Analyze what coverage you have.
  • Compare the major insurers’ rates for that same coverage.
  • Help you switch on the spot if it finds you a better rate.

Gabi says it finds an average savings of $720 per year for its customers.

It is a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have. Once you sign up, you never have to shop again. Gabi’s software has your policy on file and keeps on monitoring for savings as your life changes.

6. Get Paid Every Time You Swipe Your Debit Card

Those cash-back credit cards are wicked cool, aren’t they? Unfortunately, it can be hard to qualify for these cards. The Credit Card Gods are awfully picky when it comes to handing them out.

We found another option, though.

One of our favorites is Aspiration’s Spend and Save account.  This online account comes with a debit card that gets you 0.5% cash back on purchases. It basically turns your debit card into a cash-back card.

Plus, you’ll pay no monthly fees, and you’ll earn up to 2.00% APY on your savings.

7. 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.

8. Secure $1 Million in Life Insurance

A woman receives a kiss on her nose from her daughter, and their dog watches nearby,
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Death is never a fun topic. Honestly, it’s the farthest thing from it. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life — it happens to roughly 100% of people. Despite how uncomfortable it might be, it’s something we all need to think about.

If you have a family, the last thing you want is to leave them without any financial support once you’re gone.

Maybe it’s time to think about life insurance. It doesn’t have to be the uncomfortable experience you might expect. Some newcomers in the industry are updating the old model.

Ethos, for example, can get you term life insurance in less than 10 minutes — with no medical exam — for coverage up to $1 million. Ethos offers a digital application, and customer service is available if you have questions.

It partners with a major life insurance carrier to quickly offer policies as low as $6 a month. It’s helped thousands of folks access term life insurance, including independent contractors who use Uber, Postmates, TaskRabbit and other gig apps.