10 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.
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 that 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 free site like Credit Sesame. This way you can find out if you have any negative marks on it before you’re trying to make a major life move.
3. Start Investing Without Thinking About It
If you want an insanely simple way to save and invest your money, try Acorns. You’ll be amazed by how much money you can set aside without even thinking about it.
Acorns is a smartphone app that connects to your bank account, credit and debit cards to save your digital change. It automatically rounds up purchases with your connected accounts and invests the difference in your Acorns account.
This Penny Hoarder saved $116 — about $35 a month — by connecting one debit card to the app and forgetting about it.
At that rate, you put away $420 a year. And if you use your credit cards more frequently, your round-ups could amount to much more.
Plus, you’ll snag a $10 bonus when you make your first investment.
4. 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.
Sign up for the websites below on your smartphone, and earn start earning extra money every month — up to $600 per year!
+ PointClub is awesome because you’ll get points for every single survey you take — guaranteed. Plus, the company gives you $5 just for signing up! Once you accrue enough of them, those points are redeemable for gift cards to a ton of useful vendors like Walmart, Amazon and PayPal. Heck, you can even cash them in for charity.
+ InboxDollars: Yes, you can 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 of the shows, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
+ Paribus: It turns out that deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued? An app called Paribus helps gets you money back for your online purchases at stores like Target, Walmart, Old Navy and more — but you have to keep your email receipts. Just connect your bank account and if Paribus detects a price drop on something you’ve bought at over 20 major retailers, it will negotiate with the store and pay you the difference.
+ Drop: This company wants to drop some cash in your wallet. After you link your credit and debit cards, they’ll 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 then exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.
5. 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 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. Even’s platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24-84 months.
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.
6. Make Your 401(k) Blossom
Got a 401(k) but haven’t checked on it in a while? Honestly, you could be missing out on opportunities.
Rather than seeking out an investment advisor and forking over hundreds of dollars, opt for a robo-advisor like Blooom.
The online-only tool helps manage your 401(k) for you because, chances are, it can probably be doing a lot more for you and your retirement.
You don’t even have to move your account; you just connect it to Blooom, and the company’s professionals will start managing it for you. You’ll even find out if you’ve been paying tons of hidden fees.
Your first month is free if you sign up through this link. The service is $10 a month after that, and you can cancel anytime.
Start the signup process by entering your name, birthday and the age you’d like to retire by.
7. Take a Deep Look at What You’re Spending
An integral part to 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. Now, set alerts to let you know when bills are due, when you’ve hit a spending cap or when you’ve (hopefully not) overdrafted.
Trim has a lot of other features, too, including an Amazon price patrol that’ll monitor prices on items you’ve ordered and give you money back when they drop. Best part? It’s free to sign up.
8. Optimize Your Credit Card Rewards Use
If you’re not using a rewards credit card to pay for your groceries, you’re missing out on free money.
(One obvious caveat here: 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 it’s 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 in order 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.
Don’t miss out.
9. 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 FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 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.
10. Begin Your Journey to Becoming Debt Free
Ever heard of the “debt avalanche” method (also known as “debt stacking”)?
Basically, it’s paying off your debts with the highest interest rates first.
Think of it as killing off your most toxic debt first — your most poisonous, radioactive, money-eating debt.
To get rid of your credit card debt this way, rank your credit cards by interest rate, from highest to lowest.
Here’s an example. (Note to readers: I am totally making these interest rates up.)
- Chase Visa — 22% interest rate — $5,000 balance
- Bank of America MasterCard — 19% — $3,000
- Citibank Visa — 13% — $7,000
- Capital One MasterCard — 8% — $1,000
Each month, make the minimum required payment on each card.
Then, use all your remaining available cash to pay off the card with the worst interest rate. Once you’ve wiped out that balance, move your debt-killing sniper rifle down to your next target.
This technique requires patience, but can save you significant money in interest payments.
And the more interest you pay off, the more momentum you gain — like an avalanche rolling downhill.