12 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. Stop Paying Too Much for Car Insurance
For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?
Yes. There’s no getting around car insurance, unfortunately. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year. Less than 50% of us do that, according to this survey from The Zebra, though 81% of us report wanting lower rates.
So, just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?
The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.
Here’s how it works:
1. Head over to The Zebra’s search platform. Enter your car’s year, make and model, and your zip code. Continue on to answer questions about your driving habits, your car and your life.
On the right sidebar, you’ll watch rates increase or decrease based on your answers. For example, if you’ve gotten into an accident — that was your fault — in the past three years, your rates will kick up. It’s interesting to see what effect your answers might have.
2. After about two minutes of questions, it’s time to compare. The Zebra gives you an “Insurability Score,” which is similar to your credit score except it’s for car insurance, and it teaches you how to get better rates. The site also gives you different options for coverage.
When you’re ready to consider your options and select a quote, you can also receive a phone call from The Zebra for additional support.
A nice representative (a real, live human) on the line asks if you want to speak with a specialist. If you’re truly interested in car insurance and want to ask all the questions, this could be the perfect time.
Otherwise, just keep shoppin’ around and weighing options through The Zebra.
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. Have a Cup of Coffee and Look at Your Credit Score
One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.
To create a rebuilding plan, you have to first know what you’re dealing with.
Do you have credit card debt? Is your name attached to any unpaid loans? Are you behind on medical or utility bills you didn’t know about?
Your credit report will give you this information.
You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.
If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
- MyPoints: This platform lets you earn gift cards for taking polls, answering surveys and other things you do online — a great way to cash in on long lines or an endless commute. You’ll earn a $5 bonus when you complete your first five surveys.
- 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 gets you money back for your online purchases. 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 monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.
7. Open a Separate Bank Account
Chime is an online-only bank account that offers some unique features other banks haven’t caught on to yet.
- Chime doesn’t charge overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees or minimum balance fees.
- Chime customers have access to thousands of fee-free MoneyPass ATMs around the country.
- When you set your payroll up for direct deposit to your Chime spending account, your paycheck will post two days before payday, giving you more time to plan, save and pay the bills.
- You can open an easy-to-access, connected savings account. It allows you to automate your savings with features like the round-up tool, which will round up your transactions to the nearest dollar and dump the change into savings.
- Its mobile app boasts more than 2,000 five-star reviews, making managing money super accessible via iPhone or Android.
- It has a “Pay Friends” feature, so you don’t have to mess with cash, math or other apps to split the bill.
Plus, it takes about five minutes to sign up. The bank verifies your personal information, takes note that you’re at least 18 or older, then you’re good to go. No opening deposit required.
Note that the biggest complaint is a lack of mobile check deposit, but Chime assures its customers the feature is coming soon.
For an account that’ll help you strike up savings — and that’ll pay you two days early — check out Chime.
8. Save for Emergencies — Effortlessly
One of the first places I look when I need to scrounge up money? All my extra purses and bags — even my coat pockets.
My hope is I’ll have brilliantly (or simply forgetfully) left a $20 bill in one of the pockets. Sometimes I luck out, but most of the time I don’t.
What to Do Instead: Start an emergency fund with Digit.
This innovative app saves your money without you having to lift a finger. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.
Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one writer put more than two months’ rent into her emergency fund.
If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.
Digit is free to use for the first 100 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.
Sign up for Digit today, then, the next time you’re desperate for money, you’ll hopefully already have it stashed away.
9. Negotiate Your Bills Down (Or, Let This Bot Do It for You)
The price of internet — and cable, if you’re still into that kind of thing — certainly isn’t decreasing. If anything, prices are steadily climbing.
And if you’ve had to chat with a representative from your internet/cable company recently, you know how long you can sit on hold.
That’s why it’s time to call in a robot. A negotiation bot like Trim will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.
You can sign up simply with Facebook or your email address. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.
Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you.
Trim takes 25% of the savings tab, and you get the rest.
10. Never Get Slapped With a Late Fee Again
Keeping up with all these bills is tough. It’d be nice to just sync them all and receive automatic reminders for them each month, right?
Rather than manually penciling bills into your calendar, download Prism. The app lets you connect all your accounts — and even pay all your bills — in one spot. Once you’re connected, it’ll automatically sync your bill info and set up reminders for you.
Turn on notifications to get payday reminders and notices when your water bill is due, for example. This will help you plan your month and avoid any late fees. And because you’re making these payments on time, it could even boost your credit score.
The app is free for consumers. (Prism makes its money from the bill provider.)
Download the app, and effortlessly keep close tabs on all your bills from here on out.
11. 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.
12. Set a Budget You Can Stick To
An integral part of managing your money is creating a budget. Ew, gross. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at what you’re spending and where.
If you’re not sure where to even start, we favor the 50/20/30 budgeting method for its simplicity. Here’s how it works:
- 50% of your income goes toward essentials.
- 20% goes toward financial goals.
- 30% goes toward personal spending.
The key is to accept you can’t create the perfect budget in an hour. You’ll have to experiment to find what works best for you.