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.
After you open your Checking Account, use it to split your income:
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. Apartment rentals, renting a car and buying a new phone all can cue a credit check. This way you can find out if you have any negative marks on it before you’re trying to make a major life move.
Sign up for the websites below on your smartphone, and earn start earning extra money every month — up to $600 per year!
+ Opinion Outpost: This site is more than just a cash-back shopping portal. It’ll also pay you to take surveys. Once you sign up and tell the site a little bit about yourself, it will find you surveys to take. Each is worth points that you can cash out for gift cards to popular shopping sites — like Amazon.
+ InboxDollars: Did you know you could get paid to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news, along with dozens of other videos? It’s pretty passive work and this company will pay you via Paypal or Amazon gift card.
+ 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.
A good resource is consumer financial technology platform Even Financial, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs. It can help you borrow up to $50,000 (with no collateral needed) and compare interest rates from several lenders. Rates start at 4.99% and repayment plans range 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.
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.
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.
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! 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.
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.) 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!