14 Simple Money Moves You Should Make Before the End of the Day
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.
Simple Money Management Steps to Take Today
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. Take Steps to Consolidate Your Debt
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 consumer financial technology platform Even Financial, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Even searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. 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.
3. Automate Your Savings
Acorns is a simple savings and investment app that rounds your credit or debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the digital change.
You can connect the app to your credit or debit card and let it automatically round up all your transactions, or manually round up only the ones you choose.
Contributor CJ Reid does the latter, accepting roundups of less than $0.50, such as her $3.60 cup of coffee.
“Rounding up 40 cents here and 25 cents there moves me swiftly enough to $5 so that I can begin investing without putting myself into the red,” she says.
Once your round ups reach $5, that amount will be transferred from your bank to your Acorns account, and invested into your chosen portfolio.
“Acorns makes it easy to invest by removing the responsibility of choosing individual investments or worrying about trades,” Reid explains. “You don’t need any previous investment knowledge or history.”
And once you get the process automated, Acorns investments make your digital change work for you.
“With a conservative portfolio,” Reid says, “I turned $15 into $19 within a few weeks.”
Bonus: When you sign up here, you’ll get a $5 bonus for making your first investment.
4. Get Employee Perks — Without the Job
Are you self-employed or an independent contractor? We meet more and more people in that boat every day.
If you were employed by some big-time corporation, you’d probably be getting some sweet discounts through them — company discounts are a common employee benefit.
Ah, but what if you could get those discounts anyway? What if you could save on products and services without having to go through an employer?
That’s where UNA Perks comes in.
It’s a group purchasing organization, which means it negotiates discounted prices from companies ranging from Office Depot to Disney by leveraging billions of dollars in buying power through its member organizations.
By joining, you’re able to receive discounted pricing you wouldn’t normally be able to get. That goes for hotels, rental cars, mobile phone plans, theme parks, shows, software, office supplies and shipping, among other things.
Oh, and it’s free to sign up. Did we mention that?
5. Start a Passive Income Stream
We’ve got no shortage of smart ways to earn extra money without doing extra work, but here’s one you can actually start right now.
Sign up for these sites to start earning extra money every month — without any extra work!
- Drop: This company wants to drop some cash in your wallet. After you link your credit and debit cards, it will give you points whenever you make a Drop-qualified purchase. This can happen when you’re grocery shopping, hailing an Uber or even ordering a pizza. The points will add up, and you can exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.
- InboxDollars: InboxDollars lets you actually get paid to watch TV online. The site hosts a ton of stuff to watch, including cooking, entertainment, news and health shows. The shows are sponsored by brands that need to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
- Ebates: Believe it or not, some sites will give you free gift cards just for signing up. One of our favorites is Ebates, a cash-back shopping site. It’s giving away $10 gift cards if you sign up as a new member and earn your first cash-back rebate.
- Paribus: This app helps get you money back for your online purchases at stores like Target, Walmart, Old Navy and more. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its participating retailers, it will track the item’s price and issue you a refund anytime there’s a price drop.
6. Earn Rewards for Making Good Financial Decisions
This app kind of rules them all: MoneyLion is an all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
Basically, it offers the financial services you’d typically get from three or four different banks or providers, and they’re all bundled into one place.
MoneyLion connects with all of your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
One of our favorite things about this app is the rewards feature.
Targeted at the middle class, MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits. The rewards program gives you points for taking actions like:
- Connecting a bank account.
- Signing up for credit monitoring.
- Paying your bills on time.
- Keeping your credit utilization low.
The points can be redeemed for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart. It’s like giving American Express-style rewards to middle-class customers who might not have a points-earning credit card.
7. Set Your Savings and Investing to Autopilot
Siphoning a chunk of your paycheck into a seperate savings account isn’t the easiest personal finance move, especially if you’re already crunched on funds. Plus, unexpected expenses always pop up; it never fails.
This is where setting your savings to autopilot can save you — and your money.
Lots of apps on the market allow you to create a set-it-and-forget-it savings plan. One we can recommend is Rize.
Rize is a pay-what-you-want, 256-bit-encrypted (bank-level security) web app that’ll help get your savings on track. You’ll create a goal and set a deadline. Goals and deadlines always help kick your booty into gear, right?
These could be short-term goals, like saving for a weekend road trip or meeting your monthly student loan payment. You’ll even earn 1.16% interest on your balance. (For some context, that’s 19 times higher than the national average for savings accounts.)
If you have a longer-term goal, have Rize invest the money for you and help you maximize returns. It asks you to contribute at least $2 a month for that service and will take a 0.25% fee of assets invested (comparatively low for investor fees).
Like with any savings plan, you might need time to figure out what you can realistically set aside, but you can easily tweak your settings in Rize.
Plus, Rize has some fun automated features, such as “accelerate,” which automatically increases your savings by 1% each month, or “boost,” which triggers Rize to squirrel away money when it makes the most sense.
8. Optimize Your Credit Card Rewards Use
If you’re not using a rewards credit card to pay for your everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
(One caveat: This only works if you pay off that credit card balance every month to avoid paying interest.)
Credit card rewards programs can be confusing, though, because each card gives you different rewards for different purchases. Managing all your points and rewards can be a challenge, especially if you’re juggling more than one card.
To get the most out of your rewards cards at the checkout counter, try using Birch. The free app keeps track of your spending and helps you maximize the rewards you’re getting, whether they’re travel rewards or cash back.
Birch plugs into your bank account and credit card accounts (with high security) and analyzes your spending habits. It recommends which cards you should sign up for, and which cards you should use for your most frequent purchases.
For example, it might suggest you buy products at your favorite grocery store with a specific card to rack up the most points or cash back.
The average American shopper could be earning $600 in credit card rewards per year, Birch co-founder Alex Cohen says, referring to a Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that the average consumer spends $2,165 a month on groceries, gas and other “credit card eligible” expenses.
9. Make Your 401(k) Blossom
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.
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 tool is $10 a month to use 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.
10. Take a Deep Look at What You’re Spending
An integral part of managing your money is budgeting. Ew, gross. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at what you’re spending and understand where you can cut back.
An easy way to automate this process is to use Trim, a little bot that’ll keep track of all your transactions.
Connect your checking account, credit card and savings account for a big-picture look at your spending habits. Then, take a closer look by checking out each of your transactions. Set alerts that’ll let you know when bills are due, when you’ve hit a spending cap or when you’ve (hopefully not) overdrafted.
Best part? It’s free to sign up.
11. Use Your Money in a Way That Makes You Happy
They say money can’t buy happiness. And sure, that’s true. Even we can concede that.
But shouldn’t you get the most happiness you can from your money?
Enter Joy, a free iPhone app that helps you save money and spend in a way that makes you happier.
It takes a psychology-based approach to daily financial decisions and bills, and it calls itself “the first and only money app that won’t judge you for how you spend your money.”
Its features include:
- Personalized Money Coach: Based on what it calls your “financial personality,” Joy will assign you one of four in-app money coaches tailored to fit your specific needs.
- Buying More Happiness: The app prompts you to rate purchases, helping you recognize spending habits and focus more on what brings you long-term happiness.
- Savings Account and Daily Saves: The app identifies a daily savings amount based on your income data and spending habits, then prompts you to make that save via your free Joy Savings Account. This should help decrease overall stress, increase happiness and promote a sense of ownership over your financial future.
12. Get the Best Deal on Life Insurance
“The biggest mistake I see millennials making is being duped by insurance salesmen,” says Andy Yadro, a financial planner with Googins Advisors in Madison, Wisconsin. “Everyone needs insurance, but a very small subset of young people need the insurance that is sold by most ‘financial advisors.’”
You might still consider a basic life insurance policy, which can be useful if you have loved ones who rely on your income — a significant other, a child or even a relative you help out financially. A company like PolicyGenius offers you an easy way to compare and buy life insurance. Unlike traditional providers, this online-only platform provides an easy way to apply, and it offers instant quotes from top carriers online to help you make a quicker decision.
13. Refinance Your Mortgage Online
Still paying interest on your mortgage at an old rate?
Refinancing could help you take advantage of better interest rates and save thousands of dollars over time.
We know why you’re hesitating. It’s the hassle, isn’t it? Getting a new mortgage can take months.
To save yourself time and money, consider Lenda*, a rapidly growing online mortgage company.
Lenda is using cutting-edge technology to streamline this whole process. You do everything online. By automating and digitizing its processes, the company says it saves homebuyers an average of $409 per month in loan repayments.
Lenda can wrap up its loans in 17 days — as opposed to the industry standard, which is typically two months. That’s nearly 3.5 times faster.
Lenda is available to customers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.
14. Have a Cup of Coffee and Look at Your Credit Score
We understand. None of us want to do this.
But did you know that around 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 that look at your credit score. You may have to authorize a credit check whenever you want to move into a new apartment, rent a car with a debit card or buy a new phone, for example.
So pour yourself a cup of coffee and check your credit score on the free app CreditWise® from Capital One®. You’ll also get a free TransUnion credit report card to show you exactly where your credit shines… and where it could use some improvement.
*Lenda Disclosure: This content is provided by Lenda, an advertiser. The Penny Hoarder does not provide home mortgage loans or mortgage recommendations. Lenda is the mortgage originator. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 60DBO68584. Lenda loans are originated by Lenda, Inc, NMLS #991397. Terms and Conditions apply; see https://www.lenda.com/terms_of_use for details. Mortgages are not available in all states. See the Lenda eligibility list. https://www.lenda.com/licensing. Lenda, Inc, 44 Tehama Street, San Francisco, CA 94123.