Getting your finances under control can seem overwhelming. There’s interest rates, bank accounts, 401(k)s, minimizing taxes, etc…
Here are 12 smart money moves you can make this month, along with tips to help you succeed.
12 Smart Money Moves You Should Make This Month
The first step to organizing your finances is aggregating your accounts. Your goal is to have all your accounts (bank, credit card, investment, debt, etc.) viewable in one place.
I use and recommend the free tool Personal Capital, which gives you a no-fuss dashboard for viewing all your accounts in one place.
#2. Consolidate to One Checking/Savings Account
Now that you have your accounts listed in one place, it’s time to minimize the number of accounts you have.
Your goal is to have the minimum number of accounts necessary for achieving your goals. Start with your checking and savings account — unless you have a legit reason, you only need one of each.
I use and recommend Capital One 360, which has no fees, no minimum balance, a generous overdraft policy, and consistently-high interest rates.
#3. Consolidate to One Investment Provider
Next comes your investment accounts. As with your checking and savings, you want the minimum number necessary to achieve your goals.
Start with any old 401(k)s sitting out there. Roll these over to one investment provider.
#4. Evaluate Debt
You can save a lot of money by refinancing your debt — if done right.
It’s not always a slam dunk, but look to see if you can refinance to a lower interest rate on any debt. This can save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan.
For personal loans and student loans try Credible. Credible is like the Kayak of loans, allowing you to search from many different providers to find which one offers the lowest rate.
And if you’re interested in refinancing your student loan debt, take a few minutes to read my ultimate beginners’ guide to the process — it covers everything you need to know to get started, and runs down some of the best options.
#5. Review Your Credit Score
Your credit score matters. It’s important to know and understand this number over time.
Sign up with a free credit score provider like Credit Sesame. Use their free tools to evaluate your situation and see what can be done to increase your score.
#6. Start a Passive Income Stream
Sign up for the below websites to start earning a few hundred dollars each month.
Use this extra money to put towards your highest priority financial goal — whether that’s paying off debt, increasing your savings rate, or anything else.
Swagbucks: Swagbucks is a favorite of mine, as well as a favorite of many readers here. You can earn points for the everyday things you do online like searching, shopping, and watching videos. In total, Swagbucks has paid out over $300 million in rewards.
MyPoints: Owned by the good people who run Swagbucks, they’ve paid out over $236 million in cash and rewards. You can earn points through surveys, plus many other ways like watching videos or testing games.
InboxDollars: An A+ rated survey company by the Better Business Bureau, InboxDollars pays cash for surveys. Partner companies include Netflix, Walmart, Target, and H&R Block. In total, they’ve paid out over $50 million in rewards. It’s similar to Swagbucks in that you have access to surveys that pay cash, but you can also earn by watching videos and making purchases through their portal.
SurveyJunkie: SurveyJunkie is an online survey site with over 5 million members. With an A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau, they’re one of the most trusted survey sites around.
Trim: Trim is like having your own personal finance assistant. The service will negotiate your bills for you, alert you to unused subscriptions, and get you cash-back on online purchases.
#7. Set Any Bills on Automate
You want to automate any recurring bills, such as utilities and credit card bills.
Make sure you’re paying these bills every month, as just one late bill can harm your credit score.
#8. Know Your Target Date
It’s good to know where you’re headed. You may be years away from retirement but it’s helpful to know where you’re at today. This helps you make better decisions tomorrow.
Use a free retirement calculator to estimate what you’d need to do to become financially independent.
Check in with this number on a regular basis to evaluate how you’re doing and make necessary changes.
#9. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Eliminate any wasteful expenses. Here are 100 tips for saving money every month.
#10. Optimize Your Credit Cards
With little effort, you can get over 2% cash-back for the year. If you spend $30,000 a year, that’s $600.
The Chase Freedom gives you 5% cash-back in rotating categories. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 1% cash-back on all purchases.
Used in combination, one can easily save over 2% a year.
#11. Sell Your Old Stuff
Selling your stuff is one of the fastest ways to earn more money and reach your goals as fast as possible.
The question to ask is, “what do I own today that I wouldn’t buy again for what I can sell it for?”
Whatever you put on the list — it’s time to sell!
The money earned can be better used somewhere else.
Check out this list of online selling platforms.
#12. Set New Goals
You’re now in maintenance mode as far as personal finance tasks. Use the below goal-setting guide to decide what’s next.