Source: The Penny Hoarder
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 Cup of Coffee And Look at Your Credit Score
I know, I know. 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. 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 cup of coffee and check your credit score on a free app like CreditWise® from Capital One®. You’ll also get a free credit report card to show you exactly where your credit shines… and where it could use some improvement.
3. 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 in 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 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 realistically set aside, but you can easily tweak your settings in Rize.
Plus, Rize has some fun automated features like “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.
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!
MyPoints: MyPoints is more than 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 for you. Each is worth points you can cash out for gift cards to popular shopping sites — like Amazon.
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. It also checks the tracking info for your online orders. If something shows up late, Paribus will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping — up to a full shipping refund.
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.