5 Tools You Need in Your Life if You’re Always Stressing About Money
If someone told me to stop thinking about my finances, I’d think:
- That’s impossible.
- That’s impossible.
- That’s definitely impossible.
I think about my finances entirely too much. (Or is it just enough?)
That credit card bill due at the end of the month, my retirement savings, the looming electric bill after a steamy, hot month or a frigid winter…
These are the financial fears that haunt me on a daily basis.
There are, however, easy steps you can take to stop thinking about your finances — or at least ease your money stress a little bit.
1. Cut Down Your Monthly Bills
Whenever I receive a cable and internet bill from Spectrum, I cringe. Due again?!
I always thought this was a bill I couldn’t escape — that I was locked into paying. (Because, you know, I need internet to live.) However, did you know there are ways to negotiate it — without making a single phone call and sitting on hold for approximately 3,493 minutes?
Trim is a cute little bot that’ll negotiate your internet and/or cable bills for you.
Once you sign up, upload a PDF of your latest bill. You can find this using your online account. The process takes about two minutes. Afterward, Trim’s AI system begins negotiating to see if it can reduce your monthly bill. Trim pockets 25% of the reduction, and you get the rest.
If your bill can’t be reduced, Trim will keep an eye on things and keep trying. For example, if there’s ever a power or service outage, you’ll get reimbursed.
It’s nice knowing this little guy is on your side!
2. Let This Bot Optimize Your 401(k)
Saving for retirement is a daunting chore — perhaps the most daunting in the world of personal finance. If you’ve ever typed your information into one of those retirement calculators, you’ve probably thrown your laptop across the room and declared, “I give up.” (Just me?)
But a 401(k) will help you out, and if you already have one open, know you’re on the right track.
Now, you just need to make sure it’s working hard for you. That’s where Blooom will help you out. This company is an SEC-registered investment-advisory firm that optimizes and monitors your 401(k).
Enter your information into its system: your name, age and when you hope to retire. Connect your 401(k) account (it’s safe, I swear!), then boom. (Or Blooom?)
Within a few minutes, you receive a free 401(k) “health report,” which tells you what’s going well and what needs some improvement. Are you paying too many fees? Is your mix of stocks and bonds not properly allocated for your age?
If you want Blooom to take over, you can opt in for a $10-per-month service. Within a few hours, Blooom will reconfigure your 401(k) without you doing a thing. And, better yet, it keeps an eye on it from then on.
3. Start Saving Money (Without Thinking About It)
Tucking away money from each paycheck is a tough thing to do — because it’s payday, hey!
The best way to smuggle little chunks of your paycheck into a separate account is to automate the process so you don’t have to think about it. An app like Acorns can help with that.
Acorns is a micro-investing app that allows you to execute a set-it-and-forget-it method. (Kinda like the Ronco Rotisserie.)
Set up your Acorns account so it dumps spare change from your debit or credit card transactions into an account. For example, spend $1.20 at the gas station, and Acorns will stash 80 cents away. Or set up your account so that every two weeks, it saves $20.
The best part is that Acorns invests the money for you, so it’s not just sitting there idly, collecting dust.
Also: You’ll snag a $5 sign-up bonus!
4. Stop Worrying About Tracking Prices
I do this all the time: I buy something from Amazon, then, a few hours later, the price drops.
Seriously? Why does this world hate me?
That’s where Paribus is helpful. When you sign up (Paribus is free!), you just enter your email address. Then it keeps track of your online shopping receipts. If the price of an item you’ve already ordered drops, Paribus will claim that difference back for you.
It works with a number of retailers, including Jet, Overstock, Target, Walmart and Zappos. At the end of the month, you could snag a hearty refund.
The nicest part of it all? You don’t have to do a thing after signing up.
5. Set Up a Passive Income Stream
The point of passive income is to sit back, relax and watch the money roll in, right? Well, not exactly. There are some upfront tasks you’ll need to do.
But if you want to explore this world — you know, get your toes a little wet — there’s an app that can help you earn cash rewards on your purchases.
It’s called Dosh. The idea is that you’re spending money on your normal everyday items and earning money back — without having to scan bar codes or take photos of your receipts.
I signed up a few days ago, and within two minutes, I banked $6. The first $5 was from linking my credit card, and the additional dollar was from linking my debit card. Those are the two cards Dosh will comb through to find out which of my purchases qualify for cash back.
Some examples of these opportunities (available right now) include:
- Up to 7.5% back from Bed Bath & Beyond online
- Up to 6% back from Ray Ban online
- Up to 4.5% back from The Container Store online
There are plenty of local restaurants, breweries and coffee shops with available offers, too.
Once you collect $15, cash out! (Or do good and donate it to charity.)
6. Swipe Cash Back on All Your Purchases
If you’re looking for a passive way to earn some money throughout the year, a cash-back credit card is perhaps one of the easiest methods.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
So next time I’m lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling and counting my money, alongside those annoying sheep, I’ll just start ticking off the tips on this list instead. Then I’ll fall soundly asleep.
Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She stresses about money entirely too much, but she’s learning to cope — with the aforementioned tools.