The second quarter this year saw a lot of activity in Central Florida’s housing market. There was an increase in sales, higher median prices, and more new listings. This is, no doubt, a
13 Simple Money Moves You Should Make Before The End Of The Day
13 Simple Money Moves You Should Make Before the End of the Day
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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.
Simple Money Management Steps to Take Today
Here are a few simple steps you can take today to get your finances under control and start working toward a healthier financial future.
1. Have a Cup of Coffee and Assess the Damage
Did you know that around 20% of consumers have an error on their credit report that is likely bringing down their score? And those poor scores can hinder every part of your financial wellness.
Banks and credit card companies aren’t the only ones that look at your credit score. You’ll have to authorize a credit check when you want to move into a new apartment, rent a car with a debit card or buy a new phone.
That’s why we always suggest starting with a peek at your credit score — specifically from somewhere that can let you know if there’s anything to be concerned about.
Even better if it’s free.
The credit report card from Credit Sesame does all that, and it’s free. The report lays out all your unpaid debts, any delinquencies and steps you can take if you want to improve your credit score.
You can also opt to receive alerts when your your credit score rises or falls so you can take necessary action (or celebrate with a happy dance).
2. Cut Your Interest Rates Like a Pro
A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation or refinancing might be worth a look.
A good resource is the platform Even Financial, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Even searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Its platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
Lowering the interest rate on your debt could save you thousands over the life of the loan, which is more money you’ll have to make your next big move.
3. Put Investing on Autopilot
Y’all are saving for retirement, right?
Your grimace at that statement suggests you’re not, or at least not enough. We get it, investing is scary. So work smarter, not harder and find a painless way to invest.
One app that invests and saves automatically for you is Acorns.
Acorns rounds your credit or debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the digital change.
Freelance writer CJ Reid does the latter, accepting roundups of less than $0.50, such as her $3.60 cup of coffee.
“Rounding up 40 cents here and 25 cents there moves me swiftly enough to $5 so that I can begin investing without putting myself into the red,” she says.
Once your round ups reach $5, that amount will be transferred from your bank to your Acorns account and invested into your chosen portfolio.
“Acorns makes it easy to invest by removing the responsibility of choosing individual investments or worrying about trades,” Reid explains. “You don’t need any previous investment knowledge or history.”
And once you get the process automated, Acorns investments make your digital change work for you.
“With a conservative portfolio,” Reid says, “I turned $15 into $19 within a few weeks.”
Plus, Acorns will give you a $5 bonus for making your first investment.
4. Earn Rewards for Paying Your Bills on Time
Your mom probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor when you were a kid. Now all you get for doing it is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.
As an adult, you don’t typically get rewards for doing things that are expected of you… until now.
This invention kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.
The app also connects with all your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
5. Make More Money — Without More Time
We’ve got no shortage of smart ways to earn extra money without doing extra work, but here’s one you can actually start right now.
Sign up for these sites to start earning extra money every month — without any extra work!
Drop: This company wants to drop some cash in your wallet. After you link your credit and debit cards, it will give you points whenever you make a Drop-qualified purchase. This can happen when you’re grocery shopping, hailing an Uber or even ordering a pizza. The points will add up, and you can exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.
MyPoints: This platform lets you earn gift cards for taking polls, answering surveys and other things you do online — a great way to cash in on long lines or an endless commute. You'll earn a $5 bonus when you complete your first five surveys.
Ebates: Believe it or not, some sites will give you free gift cards just for signing up. One of our favorites is Ebates, a cash-back shopping site. It's giving away $10 gift cards if you sign up as a new member and earn your first cash-back rebate.
Paribus: This app gets you money back for your online purchases. It's free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.
6. Never Get Slapped With a Late Fee Again
While it’s best practice to set up autopay for your bills, sometimes it’s just not possible. You’re either not making enough to plan for paying bills, or the company’s still living in the Stone Age, where there’s no automatic billing.
For those situations, it’d be nice to just sync them all and receive automatic reminders each month, right?
Rather than manually penciling bills into your calendar, download the free Prism app. The app lets you connect all your accounts — and even pay all your bills — in one spot. Once you’re connected, it’ll automatically sync your bill info and set up reminders for you.
Turn on notifications to get payday reminders and notices when your water bill is due, for example. This will help you plan your month and avoid any late fees. And because you’re making these payments on time, it could even boost your credit score.
7. Earn Credit Card Perks Without the Risk
Many credit cards offer perks like cash back or travel rewards, but they also make it easy to rack up debt. If you don’t pay off your balance every month, you’ll wind up paying a lot of interest. And if you miss a payment, there are late fees.
Debit cards don’t usually offer cool rewards, but they won’t get you mired in debt either. It’s pay-as-you-go spending. The debit card is linked to your checking account, and you can’t spend money you don’t have.
Wouldn’t it be great to combine the best of both worlds? Now you can.
A new app called Debitize basically turns your credit card into a debit card, for free. With it, you can connect any credit card to a checking account.
Whenever you swipe your credit card, Debitize pulls the same amount of cash from your bank account. It stores the cash for you until it’s time to pay your credit card bill. Then it pays that bill for you a week before the due date.
The best of both worlds: You can build credit and get those sweet credit card perks, and also prevent yourself from running up unmanageable debt.
8. Prepare Your Wallet for Surprises
If you’re going to have control of your finances, you need an emergency fund and a plan to pay off your debt.
Your savings account might look a little barren, and your credit card bill might look like it’s going to take a long time to pay off. But getting a jump start on these takes only minutes, because there’s an app that helps you do both of these at the same time. It’s called Digit.
This innovative app saves your money without you lifting a finger. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.
Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, Penny Hoarder Matt Wiley saved $4,300 without noticing.
Plus, the Digit Pay feature lets you link that savings account to a credit card so Digit can make extra payments for you.
Digit is free to use for the first 100 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.
9. Let This Bot Negotiate Lower Bills for You
The price of internet — and cable, if you’re still into that kind of thing — certainly isn’t decreasing. If anything, prices are steadily climbing.
And if you’ve had to chat with a representative from your internet/cable company recently, you know how long you can sit on hold.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That’s why it’s time to call in a robot. Trim is an AI assistant — aka cute robot — that will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.
You communicate with Trim via Facebook Messenger or texts. Simply sign up with Facebook or your email address to get started. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.
Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you.
Trim takes 25% of the savings tab, and you get the rest.
10. See Whether You’re Overpaying for Car Insurance
Ease into the big stuff with a step that’ll only take two minutes but could save you boatloads, er, car-loads of money
For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?
Yes. There’s no getting around car insurance, unfortunately. But one way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates at least once a year.
The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.
Here’s how it works:
Head over to The Zebra’s search platform. Enter your car’s year, make and model, and your zip code. Continue on to answer questions about your driving habits, your car and your life.On the right sidebar, you’ll watch rates increase or decrease based on your answers. For example, if you’ve gotten into an accident — that was your fault — in the past three years, your rates will kick up. It’s interesting to see what effect your answers might have.
After about two minutes of questions, it’s time to compare. The Zebra gives you an “Insurability Score,” which is similar to your credit score except it’s for car insurance, and it teaches you how to get better rates. The site also gives you different options for coverage.When you’re ready to consider your options and select a quote, you can also receive a phone call from The Zebra for additional support.A nice representative (a real, live human) on the line asks if you want to speak with a specialist. If you’re truly interested in car insurance and want to ask all the questions, this could be the perfect time.
That wasn’t so hard was it!?
11. Protect Your Family for the Future
Here’s the thing: Nobody likes to talk about dying, but it happens to five out of five people.
If you have a family, the worst thing you can do is leave them without any financial help when you’re gone.
That’s what life insurance is for.
You might not think you can fit that luxury in your budget, but you’re dead wrong. Term life insurance is affordable and sufficient to give you long-term peace of mind.
A company called PolicyGenius offers an easy way to compare and buy term life insurance. This online-only platform provides an easy way to apply, and it offers instant quotes from top carriers online to help you make a quicker decision. It can also guide you in the decision of how much life insurance you need.
The younger and healthier you are when you begin a term plan, the cheaper it is per month.
12. Make Your Savings Work Harder for You
Varo Money has combined traditional banking tools with modern technology to help its customers become financially healthy. Its big selling points include:
All-in-one: In addition to a bank account, you can open a Varo Savings Account, earning 1.35% Annual Percentage Yield.
No fees: With Varo, as long as you use one of its 55,000 ATMs across the world, you’ll never pay fees. Additionally, you’ll pay no monthly service fees, no minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees and no cash replacement fees. You’ll just pay out-of-network ATM fees and cash deposit fees if you deposit cash in-store through Green Dot.
Early access to your paycheck: Get paid up to two days before your check is typically posted when you set up direct deposit with Varo.
Varo Forecast: Varo keeps tabs on how much you spend across all your accounts so you can better analyze and project your cash flow. It also allows you to set spending caps.
To sign up for Varo, you’ll have to download its free iOS app. (Sorry Android users and desktop traditionalists!)
13. See How Your Finances Stack up to Your Peers
We’ve been taught to focus on ourselves, and that’s great. But sometimes it helps to zoom out and see what’s happening around you, especially when it comes to personal finance.
Two data scientists are hoping to make that easier through a service called Status.
When you sign up for Status, you’ll be able to compare your financial choices with your peers (though anonymously). You can compare everything — from your spending and income to your debts and investments. Even check out how your net worth and credit score compare.
OK, but you’re asking: How is this going to help me? Won’t it just make me feel bad about myself and my wallet?
The purpose of Status is to help consumers make smarter decisions — to add a layer of transparency. By doing that, you’ll be able to see if you’re paying an insane interest rate on a loan, if you’re earning way below average (time to negotiate with your boss!), or if you’re spending a little too much.
To get started, create an account and link your credit file and bank account. In about three minutes, you’ll be able to start crunching numbers to see where you’re killin’ it — or where you need to take some time to improve.