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Not all of us are born to be organizational wizards, but if you want to get ahead with your money, you’ve got to get it under your control. It’s the only way you’ll get any of the big stuff done, such as paying off debt, taking a real vacation, buying a house or saving for retirement.
We get it, though. Not all of us keep everything neatly filed, color-coded, alphabetized and prioritized. And you don’t have to be.
Here are seven things you can do — in seven days — to get your finances under control:
Day 1: Invest in Real Estate (Even If You’re Not A Millionaire)
Right from the get-go, you could be more aggressive and imaginative in your investment strategy.
The stock market can be a scary place. Stock prices shoot up and down like a roller coaster ride, and who knows when the whole thing might crash?
It would be nice to diversify and invest some of your money in real estate, but don’t you have to be wealthy to do that?
Now you can invest like the 1% does, and all you need to get started is $500. A company called DiversyFund will invest your money in commercial real estate — specifically, in apartment complexes that it owns in California and Texas.
Real estate can potentially earn you more money than the stock market. Over the long term, investing in the stock market will earn you an average annual return of 7%, adjusted for inflation, according to a number of studies. Diversyfund can’t guarantee how its investments will perform in the future — no one can — but historically, it has earned an annual return of 17% to 18%.
So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. With $500, you can play with the big boys.
Day 2: Add up to 300 Points to Your Credit Score
When it comes to your credit score, it’s important to stay organized and keep tabs on it. After all, it’ll play an essential role in any big purchase you want to make — whether that’s a home or a car.
So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.
Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.* “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.
Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
Day 3: Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month
When you think about your credit card debt, you probably feel a little anxious. It gets tricky keeping track of the balances, the minimum monthly payments and the super-high interest rates.
And while you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off the interest you pay. But a company called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan (up to $100,000) you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one (organized!) bill to pay every month. And because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much 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.
All that credit card debt — and the mess that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.
Day 4: Leave Your Family up to $1 Million in Life Insurance (For as Little as $5/Month)
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? How they’ll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? It’s easy to procrastinate, but now’s a good time to start planning for the future by securing a life insurance policy.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes — and you could leave your family up to $1 million in life insurance (for as little as $5/month) with a company called Bestow.
You can change or cancel your plan at any time. Plus, the security of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam, pushy sales calls or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
Day 5: Cancel Your Car Insurance
Chances are, you know it’s entirely possible to find a better deal on some of your pesky monthly bills but what a hassle.
Here’s an easy one to start with, though: Car insurance. You should be shopping your options every six months or so. It could save you some serious money.
A company called The Zebra will do this for you. It makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices for the same exact coverage you already have. Plus, it makes canceling your current can insurance and switching plans a breeze.
Take Lourdes Robles-Velazquez, for example. The single mom lives on a tight budget. She was paying $205 a month to insure two Toyota Priuses — hers and her daughter’s. By using comparing prices, she knocked $80 off her monthly car insurance bill. That’s nearly $1,000 in savings per year. The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.
Wondering how much you could save? Head over to The Zebra, and link up your current insurance account (this is how it gets you that apples-to-apples comparison). Then, browse your options. It takes all of two minutes.
Day 6: This Company Will Give You $100 for Opening a Free Account
How’s an extra $100 sound? For free? Seriously. We found a company that will give you $100 just for opening a new debit card. It’s called the Aspiration Spend and Save account.
Sure, a lot of debit cards offer sign-up bonuses throughout the year, but they often require you to jump through hoops with minimum requirements that feel impossible to hit.
But Aspiration makes it simple. To earn your $100, here’s all you need to do: Open your Aspiration Spend & Save Account by Feb. 29, 2020 and deposit at least $10. Then set up and receive three direct deposits of at least $500 each from your paycheck or government benefits by June 30, 2020. That’s it! Then just wait for your check.
Even better? Your account comes with a debit card that gets you up to 5% cash back on your debit purchases, plus you’ll earn up to 11 times the average interest on the money you set aside to save (the FDIC reports that the average account earns just .09%).It takes just five minutes to sign up and earn your bonus.
Day 7: Get Up to $500 in Free Stock
If you feel like you don’t have enough money to start investing, you’re not alone. But guess what? You really don’t need that much — and you can even get free stocks (worth up to $500!) if you know where to look.
Whether you’re got $5, $100 or $800 to spare, you can start investing with Robinhood.
Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits. Plus, it’s super easy to use.
What’s best? When you download the app and fund your account (it takes no more than a few minutes), Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $5 to $500 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.
*Like Buitureria, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.