About 5 years ago, I hated thinking about money. With student loans, medical bills, and credit card debt, my finances were a mess. I had a ho-hum bank account (barely any interest, tons of bank fees) and I didn’t even want to think about my credit score, let alone look at it.
When my old clunker finally broke down and I had to get a new car, that’s when I was forced to confront my financial reality. Applying for an auto loan was a sobering process, and being offered a double-digit interest rate was the wake-up call.
There were some simple money moves I made that helped me right track my finances. And even today, with my credit score nearly 200 points higher, I am still always on the lookout for new or better ways to simplify my finances.
Here are seven simple steps you can to make the most of your finances.
1. Clean Up Your Energy Habits
When you sign up to become a clean energy customer with Arcadia, you’ll save both money on your electric bill and the environment. Pretty great, huh?
Arcadia is the first nationwide energy service giving renters and homeowners access to clean energy and savings. Customers decide what kind of energy they want to support: solar, wind, or other renewable options.
2. Find Out Your Credit Score
Take a deep breath and find out your credit score. Even if you already know your score, many experts recommend checking it monthly or quarterly to look for any major drops or errors that may appear. You want to deal with dings right away, and not when you’re applying for a loan.
With Click Your Scores, you get your free credit score from all 3 major bureaus. It’s important to know your score across all major bureaus. While Experian may give you a clean bill of health, it’s possible that TransUnion or Equifax might show negative or faulty data.
3. Lower Your Monthly Bills with BillShark
BillShark is a service that lowers your bills. They call service providers like satellite radio, the cable company, and creditors so you don’t have to deal with them. Then BilllShark negotiates the best payment terms on your behalf.
You give BillShark copies of your bills through their app, website, or email. BillShark negotiates the best savings, sending you regular updates.
Their fee is 40% of your savings, so they only get paid when you save money.
4. Get Started with Stash
With Stash, now you don’t have to be a millionaire to make money in the stock market! Stash is for people who want to take charge of their financial futures but need a helping hand to get them started and to see them through their journey. Stash is also for the millions of Americans that have been overcharged and underserved by traditional banks, brokers, and investment advisors.
Stash offers options for customers to invest for their short and long-term goals, from saving for a home to saving for retirement. Customers can open an investment account and choose from over 70 curated stocks and investments that reflect their goals, interests, and personal beliefs. Stash teaches new investors the core principles of investing and helps them plan with confidence in order to meet their goals. You can actually learn while investing.
And you can also automate: the Auto-Stash (feature) is a simple way to automate your investments. Making small investments on a regular basis is the key to dollar cost averaging and a way to maximize your savings while taking the risk out of trying to time the market.
Start with just $5 – and there is no minimum to start saving! Plus, Stash will add $5 to your account.
5. Make the Most of Your 401(K), Earn $3
Nearly 60 million Americans put away funds for their retirement in a 401(k). Most of us set it up blindly, and then rarely track it – apart from glancing at quarterly or annual reports.
Do you know if your 401(k) is delivering what you need it to? Do you know how to decipher all the thousands of rows of data in your portfolio?
If that seems daunting, then check Blooom. Blooom is an SEC-registered investment firm that will do the heavy lifting, monitoring and optimizing your 401(k) portfolio.
Blooom will do an initial free analysis, finding hidden fees you may be paying or suggesting better options for you like stocks versus bonds. Afterward, it’s only $10 a month to continue using Blooom. Considering that professional guidance can help you save several thousand more dollars every year, and the hefty fees you’d need to shell out to a wealth management advisor, $10 a month is a great deal.
6. Build Your Credit, Earn $15
Whether you have no credit (it is possible, some of us are off the credit grid) or poor credit, building up and maintaining your credit is one of the smartest money moves you can make.
If you have no credit or poor credit, a secured credit card could be the right way to go. A secured credit card is similar to bank or debit card; you have to put down a cash deposit and that’s the amount of credit you can use. For example, if you pay a deposit of $ 300, then you’ll have a $ 300 limit.
The benefit of using a secured credit card vs your bankcard is that most credit card companies will report your usage to the credit bureaus. Regular charges and payments will help you build a positive credit history.
Primor® Secured Visa is a great secure credit card option. There are no processing or application fees, no minimum credit score requirements, and they report to all three major credit bureaus. When you sign up for a Primor® Secured Visa with InboxDollars and a make a deposit, you’ll earn $15.00 in your InboxDollars account.
7. Find a Side Hustle!
I have always had a side gig going. When I’m 99, I’m sure you’ll find me in a retirement home selling other residents candy bars at a 50% markup.
A side hustle is a great way to hustle in some extra cash. Whether it’s dog walking, food delivery, or taking surveys on your tablet, InboxDollars offers many more options to cash in on the gig economy.