Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: Here’s How to Live Your Best Life in 2018
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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 2018.
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.
But more than accomplishing a few specific goals, 2018 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 2018.
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 2018.
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.
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.
Already have a favorite workout app? You can squeeze even more cash out of those early-morning gym sessions. Achievement is a health app that will score you cash for completing specific fitness activities within your favorite workout tool.
Achievement uses a point system to reward you for fitness milestone it tracks through Apple’s HealthKit, Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper, RunDouble C25K, Twitter or any other app you already use to track your goals.
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 2018 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 2018 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 2018.
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 2018 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.
Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.
7. Optimize Your Spending to Get Major Cash Back on Purchases
So it would be a completely unrealistic New year’s resolution to say, “I’m not going to spend any money in 2018!”
But instead of lamenting each grocery-shopping trip, make money off of those purchases to stay wealthy in the new year.
Dosh, an app that gives you cash back on purchases from more than 100,000 hotels, stores and restaurants, should be your new best friend in 2018.
Signing up for Dosh is free and easy. Just download the app, connect it with your credit or debit cards, and use it to find places where you can earn cash back. And if you’re itching to travel, you’ll get a $25 bonus for booking your hotel through the app.
Because you’re going to have to spend money in 2018, anyway.
8. 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.
9. Make Some Cash on the Side by Driving for Lyft or Uber
You can learn a lot from chatting with complete strangers, as long as you’re into that whole thing (I’m personally on the fence). And you can make serious bucks driving said strangers around town with a ride-hailing app.
And you’ve definitely heard of Uber, another rideshare app that will help you stack cash to be prepared for the next holiday season. Oh, and they’ve got a tipping feature now.
Now that you’ve got a jump on making 2018 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 2018 New year’s resolutions. And he looks great in wire-frame specs.