There are a lot of financial hacks out there that you probably don’t know.
No, I don’t mean robbing a bank, or stealing money. Although these are technically hacks, I don’t recommend committing crimes to make money. Unless…. no, totally kidding. It is never acceptable. (Please don’t do it.)
The sad thing is, it probably isn’t your fault that you don’t know them. School fails to teach us pretty much everything we SHOULD know about money.
But, that’s okay, because as your number one favorite personal finance writer (if I’m not, just lie to me, my ego really needs this) it is my job to teach you these things.
Check out these four finance hacks that are SO important to know, implement and start getting a better handle on your financial future today.
1) Pay Off Your High-Interest Debt
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is letting yourself get overrun by high-interest debt. It can steal so much of your income that you might quickly find your budget is much tighter than you’re comfortable with.
Sometimes high-interest debt (i.e. spending more than you earn and racking up credit card debt) can cost you so much, that you’re not able to even make payments on the things you NEED every month like water and electricity. I don’t know about you, but I definitely do not want to be in the position of deciding to keep the water on vs. keeping my credit accounts out of collections. Although, I’m choosing no water 9/10 times. Showering is overrated.
By eliminating your high-interest debt, you not only save money every month by getting rid of that interest sooner, but you are also freeing up cash that you can use on other things like investing.
You can begin investing or saving BEFORE you pay off your debt, but I highly recommend you get rid of high-interest debt first. You’ll be able to stretch the success of your savings or investments better, with more cash-in-hand to work with.
These loans should be tackled after you get rid of your credit card debt.
Why? Tackling any high-interest debts that you owe should always be the first line of attack if you’re looking for cost-cutting hacks. Car loans tend to have much lower interest rates than credit cards (3-6% or so versus 20%+ for credit cards), which means that you’ll make a lot more headway by lowering the balances that accrue far more interest with each statement.
Once you’ve got those pesky credit card payments out of the way, if you’re smart, you’ll use those newfound money skills to put extra cash towards your auto loan each month. The money you’re no longer spending on credit card payoff is now money you can put towards getting out from under your car debt.
Student Loans & Mortgages
These kinds of debts may almost be considered “good debts” for two reasons:
1) They are expected to take 10-30 years to pay off, typically, so you’re not getting as much knock on your credit score if it takes you 8 years to pay off a 10-year student loan or 25 years to pay off a 30-year mortgage. Additionally, the age of the loan over time will definitely help boost your credit score.
2) They have lower interest rates than credit cards (if you chose good student loans, at least), so they won’t cost you as much money out of pocket, proportionately.
If it’s in the cards to get these types of debts knocked out quickly then, by all means, do so. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to work at these slowly, with minimum payments, and take advantage of the extra cash to boost your investments and savings before you shift focus to these.
2) Set Your Bills to Recurring
This is one of those money hacks that no one thinks much of, but it is still very useful to do.
Nowadays most companies allow you to set up recurring payments every month. By setting this up, you’re allowing yourself to make sure that you never miss a payment. No more worrying about late fees, missing payments or getting your account sent to collections. In doing this, you’ll have the comfort of knowing you’re good to go each month.
I also like to set up recurring payments because it helps you to be aware of when the money will come out and how much will come out at that time. Most credit card companies that offer recurring payments only require you to pay the minimum. I highly suggest editing the settings to ensure that you’re paying as much as possible toward your highest interest rate every month (see money hack #1)!
Want to know why else this is smart? You won’t have to pay for stamps anymore. As of January 2019, a Forever stamp costs $0.55. First grade math says that if you’re still mailing out 8 bills per month, you’re spending over $4 more per month than you need to!
3) Begin Investing
It probably sounds a bit like common sense, and maybe even a little silly to say, but one of the biggest financial skills you should have is to know how to invest and begin investing. If you do not owe any high-interest debt and have some disposable income, then there’s no reason why you can’t start investing today.
You don’t need $1,000 or even $100,000 to start investing. You can begin investing with as little as five dollars with apps like Acorns. I started using Acorns when I first graduated high school and wanted to start investing, but had a small income.
If you have a little more income or want to get started making bigger moves, investing with just $20 will get you up and running!
The reason it’s so important to begin investing is so that you can benefit from things like compound interest and dividend payouts. Check out this compound interest calculator from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to see how you can make your money work to reach your own investment goals. This allows you to grow the money that you have and build a more stable and secure financial future.
4) Reap the Rewards
My personal favorite finance hack, and in my opinion one of the most underrated, is getting cash back or rewards.
Credit Card Rewards
If you are someone who is able to use credit cards responsibly, then there is no reason why you should not be earning money every month just by paying for the things you need to pay for. For example, I use my Discover card to rack up cash back on all my qualifying purchases throughout the month. Since I make a point to pay off the balance when the statement comes each month, I pay no interest.
Credit card companies will often offer “bonus” rewards, such as 5% cashback bonuses on gas and other items or 3% back on dining out. You’re buying food and gassing up your car anyway…so if they’re willing to pay you to do it, then definitely take advantage of it!
This is also one of my favorite money saving budget hacks – when they issue the cash back, I make sure to take that money and put it straight into my Acorns accountevery month. This is such a simple money hack that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it has grown my investing account by almost $300 per year for the last three years. How’s that for a no-brainer financial skill?
As life changes — you get married, have a family, etc — this simple finance hack will become one of your favorite hacks. Your expenses will increase with more mouths to feed, your cash back increases accordingly, and you’ve got even more to put into your investment account. Turns out kids aren’t just money sinkholes! When you’re ready for retirement I guarantee that extra investment amount will not be something you regret having done.
Think about this: $300 a year for 30 years is almost $9,000. If you could increase that to $600 per year, or $1200 per year, well…think of the possibilities! With compound interest, the resulting amount can grow exponentially. Don’t underestimate the power of reaping your rewards and investing them.
Alternative Cash Back Methods
All that said, if you are someone who cannot use credit responsibly or does not trust yourself to have a credit card, there are definitely other, safer options out there for you.
For example, I have a cash back checking account with Discover that also allows me to earn cash back on all qualifying purchases every month. So don’t feel like it’s necessary to use credit for earning rewards like this! Some other options to consider are simply using cash back services for your everyday purchases, such as Ebates or Ibotta.
Bonus: Diversify Your Income
This is DEFINITELY not taught to us in school, ever.
Think about it – you go through grade school, get to high school and are told to start deciding what your career will be…then you’re shipped off to college to get the degree and encouraged to put ALL your focus into that ONE great job you’re trying to land once you graduate.
Simply put, having only one income is a recipe for disaster. Diversifying income (having more than one source of income), is absolutely one of the best financial life hacks you could ever implement.
The more sources of income you have, the better off your overall financial picture looks. If you could make even an extra $200 per month, outside of your regular full-time job, you could:
Pay down debts
Have extra cash for saving or investing
Save for a bigger future purchase or a vacation
Possibly meet ALL your financial obligations for the month, if your day-job income is less than your current expenses.
Final Thoughts on Financial Skills You NEED to Know
After reading through the finance hacks above, you’re probably thinking they’re fairly common sense.
Yet I’d bet that a lot of you reading this don’t even have those 4 hacks squared away yet, do you?
Take each finance hack that’s explained here and treat it as a to-do project of sorts — work on it, get it buttoned up and then add the next one into your finance game.
At some point in your life, you will probably go through a time where you’re keeping your head just above the water financially. Drowning in financial stress if you will.
Saving money while living paycheck to paycheck can be TOUGH.
Pretty much all of us go through this at one point or another, and there is nothing wrong with that. (Unless you waste your money on bad food and like crack cocaine or something.) In that case, I really need you to get ahold of yourself and read as much of my blog as possible. (Yes, this is a shameless suggestion of my own content)
All jokes aside, it’s REALLY hard living to paycheck.
The last few days before you get paid you can find yourself struggling to even pay for your next meal. It is something that is not only difficult to deal with mentally, but it can really take a toll on you physically.
Financial stress can cause a lot of problems and if you find yourself afraid you’ll never be able to get through it. Then wipe those tears away my dear friend.
Because I’m here to tell you that you WILL.
It takes some time to save the money you need to be comfortable and you have to break some bad habits along the way, but it is 100% achievable.
So, what can you do to save money when you’re living paycheck to paycheck?
What I really mean is that you don’t have to spend money to have fun.
You don’t have to go to the movie theatres or a restaurant when you’re hanging out with people. You don’t have to break the bank for a good old time.
You can do things like go to public parks (except at night time, that’s just creepy), or go to your public library and check out movies. (Your taxes pay for it already!) Stop paying for your Starbucks and start making coffee at home, stop going to restaurants and recommend eating dinner at home with your friends.
People seem to have it in their head that in order to have fun they need to spend a large amount of money.
The truth is that there are tons of free places and free activities that you can do to take some of the stress off.
A lot of times saving money is as simple as shopping on a budget, checking out books at the library, renting movies instead of buying them, or even walking to work once or twice a week instead of driving every day. (If you live closer than 3 or so miles, if not, I would 10/10 not recommend this.)
The opportunities to save money out there are endless.
Are you looking hard enough for ways that you could save money?
A lot of times, the little bit of money you could be saving every paycheck is probably wasted on things you either don’t need or things you could go without.
Take the time to look over your bank statement and I mean REALLY look.
How much money did you spend on things you didn’t need? I guarantee when you take a second to look, you will be surprised at how much you waste.
2) Pay Yourself First
In the article where I explain exactly how I budget, I say that it is important that you save money FIRST.
I cannot stress this enough.
After you finish paying off all your bills, you can then take whatever money you have leftover and use a portion of that as a start for your savings account. You want to have a decently comfortable savings account before you begin paying off debt and things like that to prepare you for emergencies.
Paying yourself first is a surefire way of being sure that your money always goes towards the right place.
Remember, when you pay yourself first it doesn’t have to be half your paycheck or even a quarter. Pay yourself what you can afford and allow that to grow into a comfortable savings account that you can have as a backup for any unexpected circumstances.
After you have your comfortable savings accumulated, you can then begin paying off things that drain your funds every paycheck. (car note, student loans, credit cards, etc.)
A lot of the times all you need to do to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck is build up a savings, pay off debt and begin investing money in places that can begin to grow your money and allow it to work FOR you.
3) Increase your Income
You may already be as frugal as you possibly can. Like one of those crazy extreme cheapskate types.
In this case, sometimes the only way to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck is to just grow the size of your paycheck.
This can mean either growing the amount of value that you bring to your employer and asking for a raise. If you’re a business owner already it may mean evaluating the way you do things and seeing if there is a way you can cut costs, provide more value to your customers, or improve the business as a whole.
It can also mean starting other things that bring in income.
This could be any number of things. For example, I started out with this blog just to make some extra money on the side. Before long it has grown to bring in more income than I do at my day job. I also began doing VA (Virtual Assistant) work and making money in that way. The internet has brought us an endless way of making extra money.
You don’t even have to do things online to make extra money.
It can be as simple as driving for Uber or Lyft, mowing lawns on the weekends.
Maybe you’re good at something a lot of people aren’t particularly talented in. Taking the time to market a special talent you have can really pay off.
Jobs like doing nails, hair, makeup, painting, doing woodwork, being a handyman, and so much more, are all things people pay good money to have done.
If you can make the right connections, you can potentially make a TON of money doing these things.
There are endless opportunities out there to make more money and I guarantee that there’s someone out there that is making money off of something that you think is completely foolish.
Taking time to brainstorm the options you have and coming up with a way to make extra money can make a huge difference in your life financially.
Starting a side hustle can be awesome not just financially, But it can be a really fulfilling thing as well.
Starting this blog has been a really exciting and satisfying journey for me. I would’ve never expected that it would’ve gone as far as it has and that I would have touched as many people lives as I have.
I enjoy sitting at my computer and preparing my next article to go out. I always have an exciting and giddy feeling to share the things that I have created with my readers.
Maybe you even have a talent or knowledge about a subject that you could blog about. There’s bound to be someone that is making money off of the subject or material you understand really well.
Why shouldn’t that be you?
If you are interested in starting a blog you can actually sign up for the same host I use, Bluehost.
I can’t recommend them enough. If you have any questions about the journey of making money as a blogger, shoot me an email, or let me know in the comments.
The truth is that living to paycheck to paycheck is a very stressful experience. Many times you can be so stressed that you fail to realize that you have options to do better.
You don’t have to be stuck and be one of those people that can’t seem to make ends meet. You can fight your way out of a tough position and become better than you were before. TRUST ME. I have done it. There is more to life than struggling to find out where your next dollar is coming from.
For a lot of people, saving $100 a month can be pretty easy. But, for some, especially those living paycheck to paycheck. Saving $100 in one single month can seem almost impossible.
The reality is, a lot of times saving just $100 dollars is not as difficult as it seems. It can actually be done relatively easily.
The best part about saving money is that it can be addicting and have a compounding effect.
If you save $100 for a couple of months it begins to get easier. After realizing that saving money is now easier than the past, You may start saving $150 the next month, and so on and so forth until you’re saving a substantial amount monthly.
So, for my readers who are lost and don’t know how to start saving money monthly. Here are 10 ways I have saved up to $100 dollars in a single month.
Digit is my personal favorite saving app and it is usually my go to when I am recommending ways to save money to people. The reason I love digit is that it allows you to save money in a way that is hardly noticeable. It analyzes your bank account and decides based on your spending habits, how much can be saved without making a drastic impact on you. It then transfers these small amounts from your bank account to you digit where you can earn even MORE with their 1% bonus every few months.
2) Eating out
This is such a HUGE money drainer. Eating out is one of the biggest ways people continue to waste money every week. We are all guilty of it. Eating out is so convenient, and if you’re like me and you can’t cook, then the food probably tastes better too. But, the ugly truth is that more often than not, what you pay when you eat out is WAY more than you would pay for the same food had you cooked it at home. Not only that but in many cases, it is MUCH healthier for you. I have found the best way to do this if you have a very busy schedule is to try and “meal prep”. In other words, prepare your meals beforehand on a day of the week that you have much more free time. Then store these pre-made meals in your fridge or freezer and reheat them for dinner or lunch. This not only allows you to make better decisions about what you eat, but it also can save you tons of money by helping you to avoid dining out.
3) Cancel Cable
If you are paying for cable still, then you may be making a HUGE mistake. A lot of times the cable bill can be one of the highest bills in the household. This is honestly just a bad money move. Especially considering most people never even fully utilize the cable they do pay for. In some cases, you may be better off paying for monthly tv services like Hulu or Netflix.
Even if you think you need cable to watch things like The NBA, NFL, or HBO, thing again! These companies offer monthly streaming services you can use on your phone, tablet, apple tv, amazon firestick, or just your smart tv. And a lot of times if you only watch one or two of the channels often, then just paying the monthly price for these services can be much better on your wallet then paying for an entire cable subscription!
4) Cancel your gym membership
If you never go to the gym, then WHY pay for it every month? Especially if you are a member of a gym with a monthly premium of $25 or more! You are essentially just throwing this money away. The gym company is getting FREE money from you every single month because they KNOW you are too lazy to go up there and cancel it. (It’s okay, I was that person once too…) If you aren’t using it, just go cancel it.
It’s also important to ask yourself if you do use your gym membership frequently, is it still worth it? Are you able to do the same workouts or routines at home? Or are you able to get the same amount of results by exercising somewhere free like the park of your backyard? If you answer yes to either of these questions then it still may be in your best interest to cancel your membership and save that money monthly.
5) Cut out or down on your Vices
It’s sad to say it, but a LOT of people who believe that they cannot save more money every month simply don’t realize that most of the money they could be saving goes to their vices. This means that if you buy a carton of cigarettes every week and you do not have a comfortable savings account, you are not only shooting yourself in the foot physically as far as your health goes but also financially. It may be worth it to take a step back and observe the things you spend quite a bit of money on like alcohol, cigarettes, new clothes, etc.
Sometimes recognizing just how much money you waste on things like this can be all the motivation you need to quit them. Just imagine what you could do with the hundreds of dollars you save every month if you cut out drinking alcohol or buying cigarettes every day. While I recognize a lot of times this is much easier said than done, there are other things you can do to cut down on these costs. Such as rolling your own tobacco, buying a cheaper brand of alcohol, or setting a limit for yourself when you gamble or buy things you don’t necessarily need. This can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month depending on your level of dependency.
6) Use discounts when available
Something that really surprised me when I first became an EMT a couple of years ago was that a LOT of places offer discounts to me solely for being an EMT. This was a shock to me and I quickly realized that I could save $2-3 per visit on a lot of the places I went to. But there are more than just discounts for EMTs. There are discounts available at most places for the military, and a lot of places also offer discounts for college students, police officers, and firefighters. If you are someone who fits into one of these categories then it never hurts to ask. Places aren’t obligated to give you a discount, but if you mention it you might be surprised that they offer one!
One of the most surprising ways for me to save money was using coupons. I have always known there are extreme couponers and such out there and I just always assumed that was way too much work to even worry about. When I would check my mail and see the big old stack of coupons I inevitably get every single week, I would just toss them. But you can really find some gems inside.
If you ARE going to eat out (and ignore my advice… ouch) then a lot of times you can find much better deals among the coupons for the places you were already going to go to. Or, if you value my advice (thank you very much) you can search through the coupons for the grocery store and begin working on your shopping list that way.
8) Using a Credit Card
This one often comes as a surprise to a lot of my friends and family when they ask me how they can save more money. The truth is, if you use your credit responsibly, credit cards can be an AWESOME benefit to you. A lot of times credit card companies offer great sign up offers that can really be worthwhile. Like Discover offers to double your cash back at the end of your first year! I LOVED this perk and was surprised by how much cashback I racked up by using my card.
Besides awesome sign-on bonuses, a lot of companies offer really competitive cashback or miles opportunities. By taking advantage of these every month I easily rack up $20-$50 in extra cash every single month. The best part is, I was going to have to pay for the things I use my card on anyways, but this way I at least earn something for doing it.
9) Grow your own Food
You would actually be surprised how much you can save by growing your own food. My parents have been avid gardeners since I was a teenager. They always made sure I knew how important it was to grow my own food because you can be sure to care for your crops in a much healthier way than some of the companies that exist. (avoiding pesticides and things of that sort) But what they didn’t tell me is that it can also be a really killer way to save money. If there is a specific fruit, vegetable, or plant that you use often, do some research and see if it is something you could grow yourself where you live. While this does take a little more effort, it can be very rewarding and satisfying to grow your own food at home.
10) The classic piggy bank
I don’t know if it’s just a guy thing or an immature teenager thing. But several years ago I had this terrible habit of throwing my coins away… Like.. what the heck was I thinking? I couldn’t stand to have change in my pocket and the noise it made jingling in my pocket. Well, one day my best friend just kind of looks at me as I throw my $0.27 cents leftover from my order at this drive-thru and he goes “why don’t you just save that at home in a jar?”
Me being the rational human I am, I thought, “It can’t hurt”.and boy was I right about that! It didn’t hurt at all, it actually helped!
In just 6 months I managed to save over $137 dollars in change!!
I was so surprised. I still use a classic piggy bank to this day even though most of my transactions are done via card and I’m still baffled at times to how much it adds up to.
There are many many ways to save money out there, and as you continue to save money and focus more on your finances, I guarantee you will continue discovering more.
I hope that some of these tips I recommended today resonate with you and possibly lit a lightbulb in your head for some new money saving ideas. No matter how you decide to save, it is important that you budget your money, save where you can, and start investing for your future.
Did I leave out any of the ways that YOU save money? Let me know in the comments how you like to save money or if you already use some of the ones I mentioned.
When you think of saving money, you don’t typically think of THAT money that was saved, MAKING you MORE money?
I mean it would be really cool if every dollar we had was earning us more dollars… Like a never-ending cycle of money earning. But, we know with the savings account options out there, this just isn’t possible.
Well, you may not believe me if I tell you now, BUT…. it absolutely IS possible.
You can earn more money RIGHT NOW just with whatever you have in your savings!
I’m gonna tell you exactly how you can take care of that money, and show you how to pick out the best savings account for you to earn more than you ever thought you could with a plain old savings account.
According to this article, the average American only has $16,420 saved. This includes retirement and everything…
While this number itself is a little frightening, the median is even lower… at a horrific $4,830!
This means that the average joe schmoe isn’t prepared for emergencies in their life. In the grand scheme of things, $5,000 is not even close to covering the expenses of a normal household for even six months.
While this by itself is a frightening statistic, scary enough to have me shivering in my socks, (yes I work on the blog while in my socks, my feet get so sarn cold) the even scarier thing is that the average interest rate on these savings account is only 0.09%…!!
This means that with the median savings amount of $4,830 you are only earning $4.35 PER YEAR.
This is less than you probably make per hour! (at least I hope so considering minimum wage is much higher than this…)
You may be thinking, well what about the average savings account of $16,420 instead of the median? Well, this nice little savings account would yield you a whopping $14.78 for the ENTIRE YEAR.
This is STILL less than a lot of people make per hour.
Your savings account won’t even outpace inflation at this point… it’s unbelievable that people even accept this.
This is why today, I wanna talk about some of the other options that are out there for your savings account that will ACTUALLY yield some cash, completely passively, without any extra steps.
You Just transfer money to your savings and allow it to accumulate.
1) Discover Savings Account
The interest rate forDiscover Online Savings account sits at 2.10% APY, and with no monthly fees and no minimum amount to open an account, this is an AWESOME savings account to consider.
This savings account was actually named one of the best in NerdWallets 2019 Best-Of Awards.
Discover also offers a mobile app, and if you have other accounts with Discover it is very easy to have the app display the other accounts you have so you can see everything in one place.
2) Marcus By Goldman Sachs
Marcus By Goldman Sachs offer a competitive APY of 2.25% and they require no minimum balance to begin earning interest.
The account is online so you will have to access it via the website.
The one negative I do want to mention is that at this time they do not offer a mobile app so you must mail in checks to deposit them or set up an external bank account and transfer money to it that way.
3) Citizen’s Access
Citizens Access’ savings account offers 2.35% APY and they do not charge any fees. They are in the same boat as Marcus by Goldman Sachs in that they do not offer a mobile app at this time, only a website.
The major complaint I have for this bank is the required minimum to open is $5,000, which is way higher than most banks, and if your balance happens to drop below that, the APY will actually drop as well.
4) American Express
Similar to Discover, American Express is primarily a credit card company, but they also offer a competitive savings account when compared to the average.
With an APY of 2.10%, they are definitely worth considering. The fact that their are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements makes this bank even more attractive.
Once again you will find that the bank is best suited as an account to store your money and not necessarily designed to be used for frequent transactions.
Discover is actually the savings account I have.
I am a huge supporter of Discover Bank.
They provided me with my first credit card with awesome rewards and have the best customer service. It only made sense for me to open a checking and savings account with them after I had already enjoyed being a credit card customer so much.
The best part, ALL of the account benefits are actually sweeter than a spoonful of cookie dough. Not just the savings account.
The Discover Cashback Checkings account offers 1% cash-back on up to $3,000 in qualified transactions. This by itself is awesome, but it also allows you to auto-redeem the cashback by transferring it straight into your savings account. Which is even better, because you grow the amount of money you are receiving interest on monthly even with no deposits.
Discover pays out its interest monthly. So you will be receiving your monthly interest payments every single month. The savings is around 23x the amount the average American gets from their savings account yearly. So I am really pleased with the APY.
So, instead of being like the median American and earning $4.35 per year from your estimated $4,830 in savings. You will instead earn $101.43 per year with Discover.
Now that’s what I’m talking about.
When you combine this with your cashback you’re earning every month from your checking account you could be growing your savings account enough to at least keep up with inflation.
While I can’t recommend Discover enough, it is also worth mentioning that I am not as concerned with what bank you open a savings account with as whether you open one or not.
If you aren’t receiving comparable benefits to some of the accounts I listed above then it is IMPORTANT that you consider another savings option.
There is no good reason for leaving money on the table that you could be earning every year. You may have loyalty or feel a sense of pride in your bank, I know I once did.
But, the truth is, if your bank is not offering you the BEST options available, then why are you giving them your business.
If you are afraid of the online aspect of these savings account, don’t be.
I have my Discover account linked to an external local bank. This allows me to deposit checks and cash in any local ATM and then transfer the money straight to my savings. If I need to withdraw cash, all I need to do is transfer money from Discover straight to my local bank account. This eliminates all frustration I would otherwise have with using an online bank.
The truth is, you have to really take a step back and look at what your bank is offering you, and you have to decide whether your money is achieving its full potential there.
If the answer is no, it is time to switch.
Make the best decision for YOUR money, it belongs to you, it should be working for you too. Not just the bank.
Did I leave out any awesome Banks that you have a savings account with? Let me know in the comments what you guys like to use.
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 trustyDigit app.
I love the digit app because once you connect your bank account, the Digit app analyzes how you spend money and thenautomatically 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.
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 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.
Acornsallows 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.
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 businesswithin 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 bloghas 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.
Alright guys, today we are talking about a big one.
How to control your money – you know, that money that always seems to disappear on you. You see, controlling your money is a lot like getting a new dog (for you cat people, I have no analogy for you here).
Sort of like when you get a new pet, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get it to do what you want sometimes.
Forget getting it potty trained and keeping your new friend from chewing up your favorite shoes. Training a new pet is a daunting task, much akin to training your income to get it to do what you want.
But, dogs do get trained, and people do take control of their finances, so how do we potty train ourselves to stop pissing away our money?
Let’s jump right into the 3 main steps to get that money under control.
1) Budget, Budget, oh, and did I mention BUDGET?
You’re probably thinking, “I have heard this a million times”, and you probably have.
But did you ACTUALLY do it??
Execution is so important in this. You have to immediately take the time to sit down and write out your expenses for every month. There are many options out there for budgeting.
(There are even apps like Mint – which is free – that let you sync your accounts and set budgets to keep yourself from overspending.)
If you’re wondering how I budget, I actually prefer using a sticky note app on my computer.
I write down what date my bills are due, and how much they are for the month. This will give you a total number for the cost of living. For example,
Rent Due on the 1st – $1,200.00
Car Note Due on the 9th – $270.00
Internet Due on the 10th – $60.00
Insurance Due on the 18th – $200.00
Gas – $70.00
Total — $1,800.00
Really put your effort into this; take the time to total up EVERYTHING you buy EVERY month, no matter how small the cost. Once you have filled these out, you now have an idea of how much you’re spending (an estimate on some things like gas is better than nothing).
The next step is making sure those necessary things are paid every single month with no worries. Because if these things are important enough for you to purchase every month, then you most likely need them in your life.
Some things will be exceptions and you can go ahead and cut things out that you don’t need and cancel them during this stage (e.g. the gym membership you got that you said you would use, but never use). This eliminates so much financial stress.
I use this total to determine my budget by dividing my total cost of living for the month by 2. (I get paid bi-weekly) The number will change according to how many times you get paid a month.
Ex. $2,800/2 is $1,400.
After finding this number I know EXACTLY how much I need to put away every two weeks (since I get paid bi-weekly) for bills and other necessary monthly expenses. So when I get my paycheck or any money, I put $1,400 directly into my savings account.
With the remaining money, you have to decide how you want to use it. You have to make sure not to dip into that money that you put away.
Leaving this money alone is what will help to eliminate your stress of not having enough for bills.
If you get paid weekly, then you would put $700 dollars in your savings every payday. Then at the end of the month, you transfer everything you set aside to your checking’s account and pay your bills.
Overspending is no longer possible with this method because that money is off limits for anything other than bills. This eliminates a world of stress and is a habit that has changed my life personally.
You have GOT to budget to make sure you have no financial worries or forget any bills. It will take discipline and it will take time. But, IT WILL BE WORTH IT.
2) Decide what to do with the money left over.
So, you have all your money for bills transferred away from your checking account, and you’re now wondering, “What do I do with the rest of this money I have from my check?”
Or you’re thinking, I don’t even have enough money for my bills. In which case, you need to look at what you can possibly cut down on to save money and afford your bills.
About that leftover money…there is only one logical answer here for spending it. Blow it ,right..?
That’s right. Just burn right through it. (Like this fool pictured below, burning a 100 dollar bill… I sure hope that’s monopoly money for his sake.)
Don’t laugh… For most people, that’s about how they treat it.
The leftover money is NOT the expendable cash you get to blow every week. Not if you ever want to be financially stable and free that is. What you do with this money is the difference between financial comfort and a stressful and anxious life. YOU CHOOSE.
First and foremost, this money should go towards a safety net.
I hold enough money in my savings to cover at least a year of my expenses. For some people the number that makes them feel comfortable is different, but I would suggest a minimum of three months’ worth of expenses. (actually, over at Money under 30, they have made an awesome calculator that you can use to find exactly how much you will need. You can find the calculator here.)
To start, transfer around 40-50% of the money that is left from your check to your savings account to build up your savings net.
Secondly, that high-interest debt. If you have any credit card debt or any high-interest loans, these MUST go first. Nothing will sink you into a negative net worth faster than high-interest debt.
Put at LEAST 30-40% of the money leftover towards these high-interest debts. Continue doing this until your high-interest debt is paid off, then you can move on and begin focusing on investing.
I can’t express enough how satisfying these first two steps will be for you. They will give you a feeling of safety knowing you have enough for emergencies, and more importantly getting that debt paid off will give you a feeling of freedom and accomplishment.
If you don’t have any high-interest debt, you can take this money percent and focus on growing that savings account to a comfortable place, (so put 70-90% of your money towards savings) or begin putting it to work in an investment (more on that in the last step).
Lastly, with the remaining 10-30%. Find something you ENJOY spending money on. It could be a hobby, or something even as simple as dates or things for your loved ones. (I like to buy nice things for my girlfriend or spend money on my bike or running stuff)
The last step is just as important as the first two. If you aren’t taking time to spend money on things you enjoy in your life, then why are you even making money? I used to obsess over this and horde my money.
Now I make it a point to spend some every once in a while, and it has helped me to enjoy my life so much more.
3) Invest the remaining money.
So, I’m using the extra money to save and have already paid off high-interest debt…What now?
The best thing I think you can understand about money when it comes to comparing it to a dog is that it has a LOT of potential. But, it all depends on how you train it.
People don’t realize this is how money acts, sitting around acting like this cat. Doing nothing. (Had to put something with a cat in there for my cat people, hate to leave you guys out.)
Most people’s money sits around and is quite lazy actually.
But what you have to do to really take your life up a notch and get to feeling comfortable, is starting to put your money to work for you.
There are so many ways to do this, you would not believe.
There are tons of different markets to get into (depending on how tolerant you are to volatility and how much research you want to do). There are more options now to make and grow money than there have ever been before.
I would recommend taking the time to decide what things you might be comfortable investing in, and what sort of goals you have. For some people that extra money is better spent putting towards a down payment on a rental property or invested in the stock market or maybe a CD or even cryptocurrency, or even building your own business. I personally do a little bit of all of that.
I mean, Why not…? I think passive income and putting your money to work for you is so underrated. There are apps that will literally do every single thing for you for less than what you would pay for a fun-sized Snickers bar at your local grocery store.
Some Example Of Ways To Control Your Money
If you are interested in real estate but don’t have the funds to buy a rental property quite yet, there are crowdfunding sites like Fundrise that can get you started.
(FYI this is a very illiquid investment just like buying actual property, meaning it’s a long-term investment. Do not expect to be able to sell your holdings and receive the amount in less than 3-5 years)
If you’re interested in the stock market, here are some of the apps that I have used in the past and really enjoyed for different reasons:
Robinhood– a free, no-fee to trade exchange that allows you to buy and sell stocks at your own discretion. I still use this app daily and love it even more now than I did several years ago when I found it. They are always adding new user options and growing their platform in a way that is in the best interest of the investor. There are not many differences between Robinhood and any other investment firm except that its simplicity and ease of use is unparalleled. They also have some crypto available to some users in some states.
Acorns– an app that allows you to invest little amounts at a time with deposits and roundups (an action that rounds every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and invests the change). I also love this app for the everyday person who doesn’t really want to learn the market and build a portfolio on their own. Acorns takes your age and adjusts your risk management based off of that and income and builds a customized portfolio of publicly traded ETF’s for you.
Stash Invest– an app that provides many different ETFs and even individual companies that you can purchase up to as little as five dollars’ worth at a time. This is my favorite as I am interested in buying individual stocks and do take time to research and analyze stocks and choose a few for individual investment along with my ETF’s. I recommend Stash for beginners as it strives a lot to educate investors and makes investing interesting.
If you’re interested in cryptocurrency, then there are apps and sites like Coinbase and Binance that are great for getting into the market and learning a little bit about different coins and the future of blockchain (like what purposes they have) as well as how to invest and hold them.
These are just a few examples of places you canplant your money and allow it to grow over time. Each comes with their own level of volatility and risk. I don’t want to go into too much detail about these markets specifically as I will be writing more specific posts about each investment market and how you can get into them.
Even if it’s just getting a high yield savings account or putting your money into a 3-year certificate of deposit (CD), you HAVEto put your money to work and allow it to grow, or else you will always find yourself running out of it before you can replace it with more.
Take Control Of Your Money Today
It’s time to get busy living better.
No more stressing about your money. You need to take the time to get control of your finances and eliminate financial stress from your life. So you can focus on YOU.
Taking control of my income was one of the most revolutionary changes I have ever made in my life, and I want to see you do the same. I want our readers to feel the same comfort I have come to feel in my life financially.
So next time a fool tries to get you to blow your money, you let ‘em know you’re busy living better than that, and they can have that blasphemy all to themselves.
Let me know what budgeting process you use or if you tried any of these and how it’s working out for you! I look forward to hearing from you.