9 Simple Money Moves You Should Make This Week
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.
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?
Calm down, and come back. To tackle big goals, you have to start small.
Here are a few simple steps you can take today to get your finances under control and start working toward a healthier financial future.
1. Open a Separate Bank Account
The first step we recommend for organizing your finances and boosting savings is opening a separate bank 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 Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account -- there are no fees and you’ll earn up to 100 times the interest rate of other banks.
This online-only checking account comes with a debit card and free ATMs, so you can easily access your money when you need it.
After you open your Summit Checking 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 Summit Account to use for fun stuff, like eating out, shopping or going on vacation.
2. Have a Glass of Wine And Look at Your Credit Score
I know, I know. None of us want to do this.
But did you know that 25% of Americans have an error on their credit report that is likely bringing down their score? And those poor scores can hinder every part of your financial wellness...
Banks and credit card companies aren’t the only ones who look at your credit score. I've had to authorize a credit check whenever I want to move into a new apartment, rent a car with my debit card and buy a new phone.
So, pour yourself a glass of wine and check your credit score for free on a site like Credit Sesame. You’ll also get a free credit report card to show you exactly where your credit shines… and where it could use some improvement.
3. Start a Passive Income Stream
We’re at no loss for smart ways to earn extra money without doing extra work, but here’s one you can actually start right now.
Install these apps on your smartphone, and earn money every month you keep them installed -- $600 or more per year!
+ Mypoints: This app will reward you for participating in focus groups on food, politics, movies and more. Most surveys pay between $1-$2, making this an easy way to earn $35+/month.
+ InboxDollars: These folks will pay you up to $225/month to watch videos online! This works because the videos are sponsored by brands who need to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one of their ads, they'll credit your account with cash. Plus, they give you $5 for free just for signing up.
+ Smart Panel: This company will pay you passively up to $75/year to leave their app on your smartphone. The app's purpose is to collect anonymous statistics from your phone -- they want to know how long you're spending on Facebook each week, what YouTube videos you like, etc.
It's run by Verto Analytics which is a trusted analytics firm. Once you've qualified and downloaded the app, they will give you $5. If you keep it installed for at least two weeks, you'll earn another $10. And then for every month that you keep the Smart App installed, you'll get another $5. All total, you can earn up to $75 for the 1st year!
+ Paribus: It turns out that deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued? My new secret weapon is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. Once you sign up, they will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from Amazon, Target or one of the other 16 retailers listed on their website, it will track the item’s price and issue you a refund anytime there's a price drop! You don't have to do anything!
4. Take Steps to Consolidate Your Debt
This step could substantially lower payments you’re already making on your debt and help you save more money each month.
Most of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates that are north of 20%. If you're in the same boat, it might be worth seeing if you can consolidate and refinance your debt.
A good resource is Even Financial which can help you borrow up to $35,000 (with no collateral needed) and compare interest rates from several lenders.
If you do decide to consolidate your credit card debt, be sure you don't close your old accounts. A huge part of your credit score revolves around the length of your credit history and closing active accounts can definitely hurt it.
5. Protect Your Identity
If you’re like me, once you have your money under control, you won’t want to lose any of it -- especially not to scammers or an identity protection service that prevents scams.
We recommend using a free site like True Identity to keep tabs on your finances. It’ll send you an alert by email, phone or text if someone tries to apply for credit in your name. Plus, they'll pay up to $25,000 of your legal fees if someone does steal your identity.
Think you’re invincible? So did our staff writer, Jamie Cattanach. When she was 18, someone opened an AT&T account in her name. She assumed it wasn’t hers, so she didn’t acknowledge the bill -- until debt collectors began phoning her.
Before driving face first into a total credit nightmare, you might as well keep tabs on your stuff -- especially if you can do it for free.
6. Cut Wasteful Expenses
Are you still paying for Netflix, even though you use your roommate’s account now? Or paying for Spotify Premium -- but always using Pandora instead?
You’d be surprised how easily those recurring expenses can slip your mind! They can add up and eat away at your bottom line throughout the year.
You can use the new (free) iOS app Clarity Money to find your forgotten subscriptions and cancel them.
The app can help you cut spending other ways, too, by negotiating with your service providers to lower your monthly bills. Plus, it tracks your spending, so you’ll see what habits might be blowing your budget.
With your expenses under control, the app also lets you set up an automated savings account, to set aside a few dollars every week or month toward your savings goals.
To connect your accounts and find your wasteful expenses this week, download Clarity Money for iOS.
7. Sell Your Old Stuff
Another simple way to boost your savings with a quick injection is to sell off some of your old stuff. You probably have more than you think!
Clear your shelves of unused video games, CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays, and sell them on Decluttr.
Do you really need to hold onto your dusty copy of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” for another year?
Decluttr is a lot easier than selling direct through an online marketplace. You can unload all your old media at once, ship to Decluttr for free and get paid cash within a day, once they accept your order. Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!
Similarly, get rid of old college textbooks and earn extra money using Bookscouter.
BookScouter helps you find the best-paying and most reputable textbook buyback companies online. Just type your book’s ISBN into the search, and you’ll see which companies will offer you the most for it.
Most buyback companies offer prepaid shipping, so you won’t have to worry about that. And you can choose how you’ll be paid, usually via PayPal.
For virtually anything, you can use letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Not only does it remove a lot of the hassle of selling things online, it’s also 100% free to use.
8. Start Investing Without the Hassle
I’m kind of obsessed with Stash (and not just because they give you $5 for signing up).
Stash is an app available for both Android and Apple smartphones, and it makes it super simple to (finally) take the dive into investing, even if you don’t have a whole lot of spare cash.
To get the $5 bonus, just enter your email here, download the Stash smartphone app and setup your account with the same email address. Within two business days you’ll see the bonus added to your account.
9. Get a Free Financial Advisor
Let’s be honest, we all need to get our money under control.
Financial advisors can cost more than you’re even trying to invest, especially if you’re just getting started. But there are free online services out there like WiseBanyan that can provide the same kind of support.
The service is completely digital, eliminating the usual management, trading and rebalancing fees, but it still offers the same services as traditional financial advisors.
Once you sign up, you can create a “Milestone” by entering your goals (whether it’s saving for retirement or a jet ski) and a time frame. WiseBanyan automates everything, from suggested deposits to rebalancing your accounts to help you achieve your goal.
And the best part is you can sign up and invest as little as $1, so there’s really no reason not to start working toward your goals.
Your Turn: Will you take the challenge to boost your savings this week?
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. Adding these links helps us keep the lights on in The Penny Hoarder HQ, which makes it a lot easier to play shuffleboard after a long day of deal-seeking!