We all reach a point in our lives were we say “what the heck have I been doing with my life?”
The truth is, everyone goes through these crisis. It’s in our nature to wonder, could I have handled some things better? Could I have achieved more of my financial goals? Or more of my personal goals?
These thoughts are why I have comprised this list of things you can accomplish, no matter what age you are. Milestone that when completed you can see immediate results from that will impact your life.
Whether they cut down on stress, make you more financially stable, or just give you a little peace of mind. Completing these things should be on every person’s goal list.
1) Start saving up an emergency fund
I cannot tell you enough how important it is to begin saving for an emergency fund. When I initially moved out at 18 I spent every dollar I earned on silly things. I figured, I will make more money someday, and THEN I’ll start saving.
This is the worst mindset to have. Because the truth of the matter is, if you overspend on a low income, you most likely will continue to overspend on a high income.
That is why it’s best to begin to reverse this mindset wherever you are in your life RIGHT NOW.
The best way to do this is increase the amount you are saving. I like to use the popular phrase “pay yourself first.” This idea means that every time you receive a chunk of money, you first put a portion of the money away, to save, or invest.
This is a great way to jumpstart your savings. To accompany this method I also use my trusty Digit app.
I love the digit app because once you connect your bank account, the Digit app analyzes how you spend money and then automatically transfers money you don’t need to your savings. And the best part is you never even know it’s gone!
Digit is my personal favorite way of saving money, because it allows you to set specific goals, and timeframes you want to save for. It also has a guarantee that it WILL NEVER overdraft your account. The savings automatically pause when your balance becomes low, and you can change this minimum balance setting whenever you would like.
I have grown my savings by almost 200% just this year using Digit. They also offer a 1% cashback bonus every so often as well! You can’t beat that.
2) Establish your credit
It is so important if you’re young or still in college that you begin establishing your credit. This doesn’t mean go open 20 credit cards and max them out. I mean establish your credit the RIGHT way, and get an awesome credit score.
Good Credit is something everyone wants, but not everyone thinks they can get. The truth is, that if you handle your credit the right way, you can easily obtain a 750+ credit score within a year or two!
And if you have ruined your credit, then getting your finances together, making sure you are paying your debts down, and saving money will ensure your credit improves over time.
You need to check your credit score and be sure that there aren’t any errors or major issues that need to be taken care of. There are many websites out there that allow you to do this for free without any effect on your credit like NerdWallet, Credit Sesame, and Credit Karma.
It is also important to monitor your credit score to make sure you don’t fall victim to identity theft or any unauthorized credit usage.
Knowing your credit score gives you a better idea on where you need to start when it comes to repairing your credit and how you can raise your score.
And if you haven’t started establishing your credit then you can check out my article on getting started today with no credit history or experience.
And if you Do have credit but it could use some tender love and care, check out Mike’s awesome credit repair guide over at Credit Takeoff.
3) Start investing
No matter how broke you think you are or how clueless you are as an investor. With today’s resources there is absolutely NO reason why you should not be investing.
You should first begin saving for retirement and attempting to max out your retirement accounts every year to maximize the amount of tax benefit you’re getting. My personal favorite app for retirement investing is M1 Finance.
M1 Finance offers retirement accounts, and normal taxable accounts that you can easily fund through your standard bank account. I have mine set so that I automatically transfer $100 bucks every Monday to my account. The user interface and investing options are excellent and they provide an awesome investing experience.
If you work at a place that offers 401k contributions then you should also be sure that you are taking advantage of all employer incentives offered to you. These incentives can help to add enormous amounts of value to your investment account, so be sure you aren’t missing out on free money.
Another way that you can start investing even with a low income, is my favorite investing app for beginners. Acorns.
Acorns is an excellent investment app to get you started and allows you to submerge yourself into the crazy world of investing with only a small amount of capital.
You can invest in a well-diversified actively managed portfolio for as little as $5 at a time. Acorns is also free for college students for four years after sign up date. And only one dollar a month after that.
Acorns allows you to easily maximize the amount you’re investing by offering their round up and found money features.
By far my favorite Acorns Investing feature, once your credit or debit card is linked to Acorns, the app will pull your daily transactions and every time you make a transaction it will automatically round the transaction up to the nearest dollar and invest it into your account.
For example, if you were to spend $1.82 on coffee, your round ups would kick in and bring that up to $2.00 and invest that $0.18 into your account. Once the total of roundups reaches $5 it will be allocated according to your investment portfolio preferences. You can also specify which transactions you would like Acorns to pull from and even apply a multiplier of 2,3, or 10x if you want to grow your account faster. I keep mine on 2x.
The best part is you never even notice the money coming out.
Found Money —
Another awesome feature that Acorns offers that allows you to grow your investment account. Found Money is a portal on Acorns Investing App that you can click on to do your shopping. They have partnered with over 200+ companies and include big names like Apple, Nike, and Hulu to offer your cash back whenever you shop with these brands.
Using these features with acorns you can effectively grow your investment account even with a low income. And you can even get your first $5 dollars for free if you sign up using my unique link.
4) Stop getting in debt and start paying off debt.
If you are struggling to obtain your financial freedom then it may have to do with your spending habits.
If you are having trouble with spending money and getting deeper in debt then you may need to consider cutting yourself off from credit. This means locking your credit cards in a home safe until you become more responsible with them, or even shredding them so you can’t use them any longer.
Getting in debt can be addicting and if you are constantly in need of the newest things credit can buy, then you may need to reevaluate your spending habits and consider trying to fix this by practicing contentment for what you DO have.
Trust me, I know better than most how difficult this can be, I grew up extremely poor. So whenever I got credit for the first time I wanted to buy all the fancy things I never had as a kid.
This was all fine and dandy until I had over $10,000 dollars In debt on a $20,000 dollar income. My life was a nightmare of financial stress for the year I spent trying to pay this off.
If it wasn’t for my handy digit app I talked about earlier, I probably never would have paid it off in time. They even recently launched a new feature on the app that allows you to use the app to automatically put the extra money you save to your credit cards.
Yes! Digit will automatically save AND pay off your credit cards FOR YOU. If that’s not badass, I don’t know what is. I wish they would have had this feature when I used it to pay off my debt years ago.
The truth is, you will feel so free whenever you resist the urge to get into more debt and start paying off the debt you have. It is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. Being debt free is a dream come true.
5) Get your health in check and make sure you’re covered
If you have no medical insurance coverage and no life insurance then you are truly living life on the edge my friend. While I respect those that live life adventurously and wild.
I don’t believe in leaving your family financially responsible for you and your expenses if you were to tragically pass away or have a medical emergency.
I was one of those “I don’t need health insurance, I never get hurt, I never get sick” kind of people for the longest time. Until I got majorly sick and ended up in the hospital for an entire week two years ago.
This changed my perspective, and I ensured that I was covered by health insurance from then on. It may seem like something you don’t need but the truth is, you will wish you had it when you do need it.
Another thing to consider is getting life insurance, or accidental death coverage AT LEAST. There are so many options out there and you can find plans for as low as $20 dollars a month that will cover your funeral expenses in case of accidental death.
YOU DO NOT want to leave your family to handle these burdens if something were to happen to you, and you DO NOT want to have medical emergency that you cannot afford.
So get coverage, you will have so much more peace of mind knowing that you have it. Your family will too.
This also means that you are taking care of your mind and body as best as you possibly can. I began really caring about my health two years ago when I met my girlfriend. (dating a woman way out of your league can really do this to you).
I decided I was tired of being overweight and tired of being so unhealthy. Using HealthyWage I was able to lose 55+ lbs AND make over 1,800 dollars while doing it. I used this money to fund my upcoming vacation that I am so excited for.
HealthyWage is an app that allows you to make a wager for how much weight you can lose in a given amount of time. The app will calculate your weight loss amount and your monthly bet and come up with a final amount they are willing to bet you to lose the weight.
It’s extremely simple, you lose the weight, you win the money. You don’t, you lose your money. Just like any other bet you’d take. There is a risk, if you don’t commit and lose the weight, you won’t make any money.
But, in the case you do make the commitment, it can be extremely rewarding. I was able to make 1,800 dollars in just 6 months using HealthyWage. And the best part is that I was doing something I already wanted to do! Get healthier.
I am still so glad I used HealthyWage and winning that money was exactly the motivation I needed to lose over 55 lbs.
6) (Optional) Create your own business
Nowadays creating your own business is easier than it has ever been before. There are thousands of people creating their own websites and own businesses today.
The best advice I can give is find what you’re good at, then find out how to make money doing that. Whether you make money by teaching it to others, or completing the service for others. There is always someone willing to pay for something someone else is better at then them. TRUST ME.
You can easily create and launch your own bog just like this one and start your own business within a month just like I did. You can write about any topic you enjoy that interests you, and there are tons of ways to make money as a blogger or with your own website.
You can sign up for Bluehost and start your own WordPress website with your own hosting, a domain name, and a free SSL certificate, (google wants your website to be secure with an SSL certificate), for as little as $3.95 using my link to sign up.
Starting my blog has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I love knowing I created something and it’s become a full-fledged business.
You can also learn more about starting your own blog from the same people I did, Alex and Lauren over at Create and Go.
7) Make the most out of your money
No matter how rich you are, it always feels good to save a little extra money. (Well, Jeff Bezos might not care, but I know I sure do, and you probably do too.)
There are tons of ways to get the most out of your dollars, and it’s easier to do now than it has ever been. (That means not having to carry a huge binder full of coupons now).
The digital age has made it so much easier to make a little extra cash with no effort. My favorites are using my Discover it Card to get up to 5% cashback, and using Ebates to get extra cashback when I shop.
The best part of shopping with Ebates is shoppers without cashback credit cards have an opportunity to make cashback as well! And that cashback can add up to real extra cash. (I have made up to an extra 100 bucks just by using the app when I shop for things I was already gonna buy.)
Ebates is a great app that EVERYONE can use to make a little extra money back when shopping. If you aren’t using an app like this you are leaving money on the table. And like I always say, “No money left behind.”
You can also use apps like Ibotta to save money on everyday purchases in store instead of just online like with Ebates. While ebates is an online shopping portal, Ibotta allows you to save on typical grocery store purchases like eggs, milk, bananas and etc.
8) Keep track of your finances.
Once you have your financial health back on the right track it is important you STAY THERE.
This means keeping track of your finances and watching your finances improve and grow. My favorite way of doing this is by using personal capital. This app allows you to get a full picture of how you are doing financially.
The app keeps track of all of your debts, assets, liablities, and calculates your net worth over time. And my personal favorite feature is that it tracks your investment performance over time vs. other investment index’s like the S&P 500.
By keeping track of your finances and watching your net worth grow over time it encourages you to keep up the good work and continue to grow financially.
I love using Personal Capital and love the peace of mind it gives me in helping me understand my full financial health and keep track of everything in one single place.
At the end of the day, it’s okay if you haven’t completed all the things on this list. And you don’t necessarily have to, to have a happy healthy life.
But completing these things can surely lead to more peace of mind and better financial comfort. I know that over time completing these steps has helped me to grow confident, and made my life feel more secure.
I genuinely hope that every single one of you reading this finds the path to financial comfort and knows the feeling of not having to stress day in and day out about money. My goal in creating this blog is to make even the smallest difference in the life of my readers and I hope whoever you are reading this, one of these steps have helped you to feel that comfort.
Oh, and I can’t believe I almost forgot,
9) Sign up for the Busy Living Better email list.
At the bottom of every blog post, this one included, you can find an email opt in that allows you to subscribe to the busy living better newsletter.
I send out weekly emails that help you to find financial freedom, learn to save money, make extra money, improve your credit score, and invest in all types of markets.
If you want to make sure to never miss a post and learn more about Finance every week, then go ahead and sign up. I’d love for you to join and you can even email me back every week and send me messages to just chit chat.
Now, get your butt into gear and start living better.
Until the next one,