I love the concept of disproportionate rewards–getting the biggest rewards, for the least effort.
You can use an app like Ibotta to save money on groceries and in a year’s time save a few hundred dollars. While saving money this way is easy, it’s not like the benefits will change your life.
Compare this to optimizing your 401(k). Ten minutes of research (with the right tool) and optimizing your investments can knock years off your working life. The rewards for the effort here are disproportionate.
What personal finance actions have disproportionate rewards?
Here are 15 of my favorite money management tips.
15 Smart Money Management Tips You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
#1) Find A Better Bank
There are few opportunities that come with no-risk and offer even the smallest reward. Finding a better bank is one of those rare opportunities.
This is even more important when you consider that banks collected over $37 billion in overdraft fees in 2017.
The good news is that there are FDIC Insured banks that offer great interest rates and have little to no fees.
The best way to find such a bank is using Fiona.
Fiona is a banking search engine that helps you find a bank locally that offers the highest interest rate. Plus, you get to see other important details upfront like account fees and minimums.
When I did this, I found a bank that paid 22X the national average on their savings account!
No personal information is needed.
If you paid just $1 in banking fees last year, take the time now to find a better bank.
#2) Increase Your Credit Score
Your credit score has a huge impact on your finances. One study showed the difference of having excellent vs. poor credit saves a typical 35-year old male $274,918 over his life. With how big of an impact your credit score has, it’s vital to know what you can do to increase it.
I use a free website called Credit Sesame to help increase my score. What’s nice about Credit Sesame is that it gives you a personal Credit Report Card.
Your Credit Report Card breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report, how it impacts your score and gives you customized tips to improving your score both in the short and long-term.
#3) Give Your 401(k) a Free Analysis
Have a 401(k)? If you’re like most you decided on your choice of funds a while back and haven’t given it much thought since.
Sorting through the complex options in your 401(K) can seem daunting. An easier alternative is to have a robo-advisor give you a free analysis.
Blooom is a 401(k) robo-advisor that analyzes your 401(k) in a totally hands-off way.
All you do is link up your retirement account–then get a free analysis of your 401(k) in minutes.
#4) Shop For Home & Auto Insurance & Start Saving!
Prices for the same exact coverage between two different insurance companies can vary drastically. This means finding the right insurance company — you can potentially save hundreds of dollars overnight.
Start by shopping your auto and home insurance. Use a site like Esurance, which takes only a few minutes to get a quote. I quoted my own home insurance with Esurance, which came in 50% lower than what I was paying. Find out how much you can save here.
#5) Earn Up To 20% Cash Back For Shopping Online
I kick myself for not knowing this tip earlier. Did you know you can make money when shopping online?
All it takes is a few seconds of your time.
Here’s how it works…
Many websites give you cash back for buying things from online stores such as Amazon. What these sites do is share the affiliate commission they earn. For example, Rakuten, one of the largest cash back sites, splits the affiliate commission with you 50/50.
Besides Rakuten, I also use Swagbucks. Swagbucks allows you to earn anywhere from 1 to 20% cash back. While you can’t use Rakuten and Swagbucks at the same time, there are times when one has a higher payout than the other. So I check both before making a purchase on a site like Amazon.
Sign up for both of them (to earn $15 in bonus cash) and see how much cash you’ll get back on your next online purchase.
#6) Refinancing Your Mortgage
A study by the Journal of Financial Economics found 20% of homeowners who could have benefited from refinancing didn’t. As such, Americans paid an extra $5.4 billion in interest payments then they had to!
Whether it’s a mortgage, student loans, credit cards, auto loans, or other personal debt — you can save a lot of money by refinancing.
One company that makes this easy is Credible. With Credible, you can compare mortgage offers from top lenders in minutes.
Interest rates are still at all-time lows but are starting to climb. There’s no guarantee they’ll stay like this forever. Check out Credible now to discover how much you can save.
#7) Switch To A Balance Transfer Card
Another avenue of securing a personal loan is through a 0% balance transfer card. The advantage here is with a good balance transfer card, you can avoid hefty credit card interest charges.
What’s extra important though is that you want to pay off the entire balance of the loan before the 0% rate expires. This is by no means a strategy that allows you to accumulate more debt!
One card I have myself and recommend to others is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. This card has a 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on balance transfers, with a 5% balance transfer fee. You’ll then earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
#8) Apps That Help You Earn Money for Doing Almost Nothing
Who wouldn’t like to make an extra $50 this year with only a few minutes of work?
There are a select few websites and apps where you can make some passive income for doing virtually nothing.
Considering some of them require you to do almost nothing, it’s a pretty easy win.
Here are 2 apps/websites to try:
- Nielsen Mobile Panel – This app runs in the background of your smartphone. It collects data on your use of applications, mobile web, and other services for the purpose of market research. When you download the app, you’ll earn $3 for downloading, then another $3 every month it’s installed.
- Drop – Drop is an app that allows you to earn rewards for your purchases, without even scanning a receipt or opening the app! All you have to do is sign up for Drop, then link your credit and debit cards. Then, when you make a qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points. The points can be exchanged for a gift card from stores like Amazon.
#9) Let A Robot Save You Money
I’ve talked a bit about Trim on the blog because they keep sending me text messages about how they saved me money, including this recent one:
The goal of Trim is to become your automated personal finance assistant.
You start by downloading the app. Then, you’ll sync your credit card data.
Trim’s goal is to find you customized coupons, promos, and rebates. When they do, they send you a text message. As it really involves no effort on my part, I’ve enjoyed the savings so far.
#10) Discover if online stores owe you a refund
Ever bought something, which the price dropped shortly after? Now, you can easily get refunded the difference. One simple money management tip, which takes almost no time, is to use Paribus.
Paribus is a website and app that automatically tracks purchases from select merchants. When a price drops, Paribus will help you get a refund for the difference.
This is a real no-brainer, as all it takes is signing up once for free. Then, the app takes care of the rest.
#11) Make a Strategic Career Move
If you spend 100 hours looking for a job (most people spend much less) and are able to get a $10,000 annual raise, your time was worth $100 an hour. Potentially much more if you account for future raises.
This makes finding a higher paying job a very rewarding activity.
Start strategically thinking about your career. I recommend the book The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.
#12) Insure Yourself Against Financial Catastrophe
Insurance is meant to guard against true financial catastrophes, not minor inconveniences. A good rule of thumb is that if you can afford to replace something, you can afford to self-insure it. That’s why buying insurance on smartphones, appliances, electronics, etc… rarely makes sense.*
On the other hand, a fire in your home, hospital bills, car accidents, etc… — these types of risks can and do cause financial catastrophe. So, it’s wise to protect against them.
My favorite example of this is term life insurance. Term protects your loved ones in the event of your death. There’s no gimmicks or bells and whistles. It simply protects against financial catastrophe.
It’s also super-cheap compared to other types of life insurance (no-kidding, I pay $12.25 a month for my Wife’s $250K policy, which is cheaper than many cell phone insurance plans). Your rate will vary by age and health but most people are surprised at how affordable term is. You can get a free life insurance quote here (it only takes 2 minutes) with A++ Rated Haven Life Insurance.
*It can make sense in the right situation. For example, an IT Contractor who travels a lot and owns an expensive laptop. As this person’s risk of needing insurance is much higher than normal, it’s worth considering.
#13) Learn to Negotiate
Negotiating is one of the top financial skills to grow your net worth.
Consider the ROI on spending an hour learning the basics of negotiation for a home purchase or negotiating a raise (You can and should spend more time, however, since most people don’t spend any time here, even an hour of prep makes a big difference).
Beyond asking for a raise and in-home transactions, negotiation is a valuable career skill.
Some of my favorite books on the subject are:
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In – by Roger Fisher
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It – by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz
#14) Make Money Driving
When it comes to earning money quickly on the side, becoming a delivery driver for a company like Postmates is worth checking out.
The pay is good and the hours are extremely flexible. Actually, that’s an understatement — you can work any time (and as much or as little) as you want.
One of the great things about being a Postmates freelancer is that you can get paid instantly.
#15) Setting Financial Goals With Your Spouse
Money is the leading cause of stress in marriages. Often it’s because of the lack of communication and shared vision.
My best advice for communicating with your spouse when you’re not on the same page is don’t bring up past mistakes. Instead, set a vision of where you want to go in the future based on what’s important to each of you. Then, determine what you both need to change to get there.
I’ve written a financial goal setting workbook, to help guide both individuals and couples for setting a vision. It’s a step-by-step process for gaining clarity in your financial life. Sign up below for free access.
*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.
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