7 Simple Steps to Improve Your Finances This Week
One week. Seven days. It’s not such a long time.
But if you commit to the seven-day plan we’re laying out here, you can fix your finances in just a week. Then you can flex your arms and say, YES, I AM MR./MRS. FIXIT.
At the very least, you can take steps to improve your financial situation in some tangible ways.
C’mon, seven days. Give it 15 minutes a day. Get out your calendar, and let’s give it a go.
Day 1: Open a Separate Banking Account
Operating everything out of one checking account can make your finances muddy and contribute undue stress to your money management.
To simplify, open a second account for a dedicated purpose. One of our favorites is the Aspiration Account — there are no monthly fees, and you’ll earn up to 100 times the interest rate of other banks.
This online-only account comes with a debit card and free ATMs, so you can easily access your money when you need it.
After you open your Aspiration Account, use it to split your income:
- Automatically deposit a portion of your income into your existing bank account, and use that to cover basic expenses like rent and bills.
- Deposit what’s left into your Aspiration Account to use for fun stuff, like eating out, shopping or going on vacation.
Day 2: Take Steps to Raise Your Credit Score
Credit Sesame gives you a “credit report card” that shows you a free credit score, plus lays out your credit history so you can see exactly how much money you owe and to whom.
It even tells you your monthly payments and interest rate, as well as which debts are in collections.
The app lets you keep track of your credit score and recommends ways to improve it. Also, signing up for it won’t hurt your credit score.
For example, it might recommend a rewards credit card.
If you’re not using one for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
Here’s an example: 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. Another big perk? No annual fee.
Day 3: Take 10 Minutes to Secure Your Family’s Future
Many of us would rather not think about death — let alone life insurance.
However, securing life insurance is an important financial move, especially if you’re married, have kids or are in your prime earning years. It pays your dependents when you die, which can help pay for your funeral, mortgage or other debt.
So if “get life insurance” has lingered on your to-do list far too long, take the next 10 minutes to figure it out. Don’t worry — it’s way easier than you think.
A company like Policygenius offers you an easy way for anyone to compare and buy life insurance. The search engine allows you to compare policies and get instant quotes. Once you find the right fit, you can apply right online.
If you’re young and mostly healthy, consider purchasing term life insurance online from Ethos. It partners with a major A-rated life insurance carrier to provide policies for a low price. For example, $30 a month could get your family $1 million of coverage.
Anyone, including independent contractors, can secure term life insurance through Ethos without a medical exam or extensive paperwork; just fill out a digital application.
Day 4: Lower Your Interest Rates
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.
A good resource is Fiona, a search engine for financial services, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. If your credit score is at least 620, its platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
Day 5: Find out Whether You’re Paying Too Much for Car Insurance
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.
Day 6: Watch Videos to Grow Your Savings
And on the third day of organizing your finances, you get to relax. Who said any of this had to be hard?
Your savings could always use a little extra padding, so why not cushion it by doing something you do anyway?
That’s right. Swagbucks pays you to watch videos! You won’t earn a lot (up to $90 per month), but the videos are in all sorts of categories — entertainment, home, travel — so you’re likely to find something that appeals to you.
Need another option?
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.
The availability is subject to change, but it’s possible to earn up to $225 a month watching these videos!
Day 7: See if You Can’t Cut Back on Your Monthly Bills
It’s important to make sure you’re getting a good deal on any product or service you use, and this is a lot easier than you might think.
Hop on Squeeze, a website that allows you to compare rates for mortgages, auto loans, student loans, renters insurance, and mobile and internet plans (among others) for free.
Say you want to compare internet prices. Based on your location, the site aggregates all your options and shows you companies alongside price points and download speeds.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Bonus: Save Money on Every Gallon Pumped — Automatically
If you’re a savvy saver, you probably already use GasBuddy to help you find the cheapest gas station in town. It’s an easy — and free — way to avoid overpaying.
But once you pull up to the pump, here’s something else you can do: Swipe your Pay with GasBuddy card to automatically save 10 cents per gallon on your first purchase (and 5 cents per gallon after that).
The free discount card is tied directly to your checking account. It works at 95% of gas stations throughout the country, so you don’t have to drive around town just to find “your” station. Plus, you don’t have to wait for a rebate — it’s immediate savings.
Simply and securely sign up through GasBuddy. Connect your bank account, enter your address, and GasBuddy will put a card in the mail.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s going to need more than seven days to fix his finances.
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