These Simple Steps Can Make Your Life Easier — And Your Wallet Fatter

Woman's hand taking money out of wallet.
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We know life gets hectic: work, kids, school, volunteering, yoga class, that gym membership you swear you’re going to use more often…

Wouldn’t you like to lighten the load a little?

Yeah, adding a nanny, maid and personal assistant to your life would be fabulous. We all like to dream. In the meantime, let’s look at some ways to make life easier while saving you money, not costing you more.

Here are some easy steps you can take this month that’ll make your life way easier — and your wallet fatter.

1. Give Your 401(k) a Tune-up

Got a 401(k)? You’re on the right track.

Now, you just need to make sure it’s doing what you need it to. However, tapping into that account and deciphering the information — or lack thereof — can be hard.

There’s a robo-advisor for that. Blooom, an SEC-registered investment-advisory firm, will optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

A few of us Penny Hoarders use the service. It gives you an initial 401(k) checkup for free, and you’ll get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many hidden fees, have the appropriate amount invested in stocks versus bonds, that kind of fun stuff.

After that, the app is just $10 a month to continue to monitor your retirement account. Let Blooom know your target retirement age, and it can help you get there by investing more and less aggressively.

2. Use This Free Financial Assistant

Financial advisers are expensive, but they don’t have to be. In fact, you can get similar, helpful (and free) money advice from your phone.

Consider Trim, a bot that works through Facebook Messenger or your text messages.

Trim is basically a free financial assistant. (Yeah, this is the best friend you’ve been looking for.)

Once you’re connected, you’ll be able to access a dashboard within your Messenger or text conversation with Trim. For example, you’ll see options to:

  • Negotiate your Comcast (or other provider) bill down to a lower price.
  • View your spending habits.
  • Sift through your subscription services to cancel the ones you forgot about or don’t need (about that gym membership…).

Trim also shows your account balance and recent transactions. Want to know how much you spent at Starbucks last month so you can budget better? Just ask the bot. You’ll get an answer almost immediately — unlike your previous bestie, Jane, who never seems to have time for you anymore…

3. Start Investing (No, Not the Scary Kind)

Outside of your retirement plan, what are you doing to grow your money?

Investing in the stock market can be a smart way to make your money work for you — but it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.

Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee (first month is free) 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 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 when you enter the code PENNYH

4. Literally Get Paid to Lose Weight

Want to blow your New Year’s resolution out of the water — before the new year even starts?

We found something exciting that could help: HealthyWage will actually pay you for losing weight.

So you’re getting healthier and you could make more money. How’s that for motivation?

Here’s how it works:

  1. Start at the HealthyWage Prize Calculator.
  1. Define a goal weight and the amount of time you’ll give yourself to achieve it.
  1. Place a bet on yourself, of at least $200 a month for the duration of the bet.
  1. Depending on how much you have to lose, how long you give yourself to do it and how much money you put on the table, the calculator will tell you how much you can win — up to $10,000!  You can play with the calculator until you get the prize and goal just right. You’ll know your payout amount before officially placing your bet.
  1. You’ll start and end your challenge with a video-recorded weigh-in to demonstrate your weight loss. Throughout the challenge, you’ll also log weekly weigh-ins, but not on video.

Teresa Suarez lost 68 pounds — and made over $2,400.

She bet $125 per month she would lose 60 pounds in six months. When that final weigh-in confirmed her success — she actually beat her goal weight by eight pounds — Suarez won $2,415.28.

To see how much money you could earn for the weight you’ll lose, plug your numbers into the calculator.

Breathe Easy

It’s well known: Money can’t buy happiness. But… also well-known in the personal-finance space? Not worrying about money really frees you up to go find happiness.

Try these simple steps to get your financial life in order this month, so you can enjoy the rest of your life without money nagging you at every turn.

Dana Sitar ([email protected]) is a senior writer/newsletter editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.