13 Simple Money Moves You Should Make Before the End of the Day
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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. Have a Cup of Coffee and Assess the Damage
Did you know that around 20% of consumers 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’ll have to authorize a credit check when you want to move into a new apartment, rent a car with a debit card or buy a new phone.
That’s why we always suggest starting with a peek at your credit score — specifically from somewhere that can let you know if there’s anything to be concerned about.
Even better if it’s free.
The credit report card from Credit Sesame does all that, and it’s free. The report lays out all your unpaid debts, any delinquencies and steps you can take if you want to improve your credit score.
You can also opt to receive alerts when your your credit score rises or falls so you can take necessary action (or celebrate with a happy dance).
2. Cut Your Interest Rates Like a Pro
A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation or refinancing might be worth a look.
A good resource is the 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.
Lowering the interest rate on your debt could save you thousands over the life of the loan, which is more money you’ll have to make your next big move.
3. Prepare Your Wallet for Surprises (and Pocket $5)
Saving money is tough. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn't even notice?
Digit makes that possible.
This innovative app automates saving for you. 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.
Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $5 just for signing up!
Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.
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.
4. Get Rewarded for Paying Your Bills on Time
Your mom probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor when you were a kid. Now all you get for doing it is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.
As an adult, you don’t typically get rewards for doing things that are expected of you… until now.
This invention kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.
The app also connects with all 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.
5. Make More Money — Without More Time
We’ve got no shortage of smart ways to earn extra money without doing extra work, but here are some you can actually start right now.
Sign up for these sites to start earning extra money every month — without any extra work!
- 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.
- Ebates is a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something. For example, Ebates gives you 10% cash-back on purchases at Walmart. Plus you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.
- Ibotta: This app pays you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts. Before shopping, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes. Bam. Cash back.Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
- 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.
- 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.
6. See How Your Finances Stack up to Your Peers
Picture this: You’re sitting across from your longtime friend at the local diner. You catch up on life, then, because you’re curious, you ask your friend about her income, her student loan debt and her savings.
How many of you just cringed?
Most of us don’t have friends — or even family members — who are willing to talk explicitly about these numbers.
Status Money is an app that allows you to anonymously compare your financial situation with your peers without asking those awkward, prying questions. Tap into this database and you’ll be able to compare your income, debt, interest rates, credit score, spending… you name it.
By seeing how others are doing, you can see what you need to work on — or where you can sit back a little and just breathe easy.
7. Earn Credit Card Perks Without the Risk
Many credit cards offer perks like cash back or travel rewards, but they also make it easy to rack up debt. If you don’t pay off your balance every month, you’ll wind up paying a lot of interest. And if you miss a payment, there are late fees.
Debit cards don’t usually offer cool rewards, but they won’t get you mired in debt either. It’s pay-as-you-go spending. The debit card is linked to your checking account, and you can’t spend money you don’t have.
Wouldn’t it be great to combine the best of both worlds? Now you can.
A new app called Debitize basically turns your credit card into a debit card, for free. With it, you can connect any credit card to a checking account.
Whenever you swipe your credit card, Debitize pulls the same amount of cash from your bank account. It stores the cash for you until it’s time to pay your credit card bill. Then it pays that bill for you a week before the due date.
The best of both worlds: You can build credit and get those sweet credit card perks, and also prevent yourself from running up unmanageable debt.
8. Never Get Slapped With a Late Fee Again
While it’s best practice to set up autopay for your bills, sometimes it’s just not possible. You’re either not making enough to plan for paying bills, or the company’s still living in the Stone Age, where there’s no automatic billing.
For those situations, it’d be nice to just sync them all and receive automatic reminders each month, right?
Rather than manually penciling bills into your calendar, download the free Prism app. 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.
9. Let This Bot Negotiate Lower Bills 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.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That’s why it’s time to call in a robot. Trim is an AI assistant — aka cute robot — that will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.
You communicate with Trim via Facebook Messenger or texts. Simply sign up with Facebook or your email address to get started. 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. Play the Slots — and Earn More Interest Than at Your Bank
For most, saving money is the furthest thing from fun. After all, it means you’re taking money away from cool stuff you want to do today and putting it toward adult things like buying a home, your next vacation or an emergency fund.
But we found an app that makes saving actually fun. It’s called WinWin Saving. Let us explain…
First, download the app (for iOS only). WinWin will walk you through how it all works, but here’s the gist: You’ll connect your bank account and set up an automatic amount to stick into your WinWin Savings account.
Plus you can play games (think: classics like pinball and breakout) for chances to win more money to boost your savings.
So you’re saving money without thinking about it — and playing for a chance to win even more. Fun, right?
The app is free to download. You can use it for 60 days free, then it costs $2 per month after that. Note: You can withdraw your money or cancel your account at any time.
Pro tip: If you’re having trouble getting the pinball into the right hole, tap the pause button at the top-left side of your screen. Turn on easy mode.
11. Put Investing on Autopilot — and Get a $5 Bonus
If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.
You can start small — with $5 — and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.
Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.
The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. And the sooner you start, the more you could potentially make. For example, Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate that would let her stash $420 away per year.
At that rate, you could set aside $1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.
But the beauty is you can set your own pace with Acorns’ features, so if you want — and can afford — to invest $1,000 faster, go for it.
The app is $1 a month for balances under $5,000, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
12. Find out Whether You're 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 answering some 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.
13. Protect Your Family for the Future
Death is never a fun topic. Honestly, it’s the farthest thing from it. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life — it happens to roughly 100% of people. Despite how uncomfortable it might be, it’s something we all need to think about.
If you have a family, the last thing you want is to leave them without any financial support once you’re gone.
Maybe it’s time to think about life insurance. It doesn’t have to be the uncomfortable experience you might expect. Some newcomers in the industry are updating the old model.
Ethos, for example, can get you term life insurance in less than 10 minutes — with no medical exam — for coverage up to $1 million. Ethos offers a digital application, and customer service is available if you have questions.
It partners with a major life insurance carrier to quickly offer policies as low as $6 a month. It’s helped thousands of folks access term life insurance, including independent contractors who use Uber, Postmates, TaskRabbit and other gig apps.