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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.
1. Turn Those Crumpled Receipts Into Free Gift Cards
What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper, and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.
But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Chipotle and dozens of other retailers.
And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.
When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points, and you’ll be well on your way to your first gift card.
Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?
2. Give Your Credit Score a Boost — Add up to 300 Points
A really easy way to do this is to get a “credit report card” from Credit Sesame.
Credit Sesame is like your favorite teacher from high school — without the pop quizzes.
It gives you a free credit score, plus lays out your credit history so you can see exactly how much money you owe and to whom. It even tells you your monthly payments and interest rate, as well as which debts (if any) are in collections.
And you don’t have to stay home to do it. The Credit Sesame app lets you keep track of your credit score and ways to improve it — on the go!
To keep a closer eye on your credit, you can also get a “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. It breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.
James Cooper, a motivational speaker, raised his credit score 277 points using Credit Sesame. Now he talks to high school students about the importance of having good credit and uses what he’s learned through Credit Sesame as a blueprint for his lessons.
“We want to touch the Z Generation,” Cooper says “We’re not in the business of fixing credit. We want to get to you before you have to fix your credit.”
3. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month
No, like… the whole bill. All of it. All that debt racked up from the 300 destination weddings your friends made you attend (thanks!) could be paid by the end of this month.
Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out. A website called Fiona knows the best ones and could pair you up as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona will match you with a loan that’ll cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
Now you can finally stop holding a grudge against that friend who thought a Mexico wedding was a good idea.
Buy a box of envelopes. Now stuff some cash inside each one.
OK, so it’s not that simple but the envelope budgeting method, popularized by Dave Ramsey, helps folks who tend to overspend. Each month or each pay period, take out a chunk of money. Now divide that money up: groceries, dining out, personal care, etc. Then, stuff each envelope with your spending limit.
This budgeting method helps you be more mindful of your spending and keeps you above the red. Money management made simple.
5. Invest Like a Tycoon (Even If You’re Not Rich)
It’s no secret: Investing can a great way to grow your money. But that’s something only wealthy people do, right?
You don’t have to be Warren Buffet to get started with investing.
In fact, you can get started with just $1, using a company called Ellevest. Plus, when you sign up through The Penny Hoarder, you’ll get a $25 bonus in your Ellevest account.*
You don’t even have to know how to pick stocks. When you sign up, Ellevest will build an investing plan just for you. Even better: The whole platform is designed for women, by women and in support of women-owned businesses. In fact, the company was founded to address the fact that women statistically get paid less than men (and live longer!), which most financial companies typically ignore.
Take that, Monopoly man — money’s not just for men.
6. Stop Giving Your Car Insurance Company Extra Money
Have you been paying your car insurance bill to the same old insurance company for years? You’re probably paying too much.
Over the years, your life has probably changed — and so has the value of your car. Plus, insurance companies you might have looked at years ago are constantly changing their pricing. One easy way to save on car insurance is by shopping and comparing rates twice a year. But that sounds like a pain.
Fortunately, a service called Zebra will do it for you.
Zebra is an online car insurance search engine that compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.
It offers a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have. Zebra will even teach you how to get a better rate!
7. Ask Your HR Department These Questions
Got a new job? Here’s what to do next: Enroll in your company’s 401(k) plan ASAP so you can start saving for retirement. And yes, it fits in your budget!
As much as you want to be prepared for present-day responsibilities, the last thing you want is to leave old(er), future-you with bills, bills, bills and more bills.
If your employer sponsors a 401(k) plan, you should have access to people who can answer questions in your best interest — AKA HR.
And you’re going to have questions, because, well… 401(k)’s are tricky. To get the most out of your plan, here are some important questions to ask to ensure you’re putting your retirement savings in the best possible hands:
- Does your employer match?
- Where is your money invested?
- Can you rollover from your existing 401(k)?
- What fees are you paying?
- What can you do if your plan sucks?
8. Get $1M in Life Insurance for $25/Month
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.
Policy Genius, for example, can get you term life insurance in less than 10 minutes — with no medical exam — for coverage up to $1 million.
To get your quotes, you’ll just enter some info about yourself and your health online. Once you choose a life insurance company, you can apply right online, and a Policygenius rep will give you a quick call to ask a few follow-up questions.
9. See If Your Cell Phone Company Owes You $80
Is your cell phone company overcharging you?
Probably. In fact, there are secret discounts it doesn’t want you to know about.
You can find out how much you’re overpaying by signing up for TrueBill. Just connect your cell phone account and TrueBill will immediately try to get it lowered.
That’s what happened when William Ellis, a savvy saver from Indiana, used a similar bill negotiation service. He was able to get $80 a year back in his pocket when they convinced Sprint to lower his bill — for the same plan. He didn’t even have to pick up the phone.
TrueBill takes an upfront commission on any money it recovers for you, but there’s no charge if it’s not successful. So far, TrueBill has saved its users more than $14 million.
10. Grow Your Money 31x Faster — Without Risking Any of it
Yeah, you’ve heard this before. What usually comes next? A four-hour timeshare presentation. (No, seriously, it pays for itself!)
But there’s a legitimate way to grow your money a lot faster than the average person — with no risk.
It’s with a bank called Varo. The average savings account pays a paltry .09% interest rate, but when you open a checking and savings account with Varo, it will pay you up to 31 times that amount.
We know opening a new bank account isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun, but Varo makes it easy. You can open an account with just a penny, and more than 750,000 people have already signed up.
Oh, and there are no monthly fees.
So forget that killer stock tip from your uncle — you’re set.
This story was originally published at The Penny Hoarder.