I’m taking a break from the Financial Independence programming and am going into straight Personal Finance territory. I have been craving some Action, and decided to dedicate a full post to Quick Financial Tips you can FINISH today.
One thing I have learned on paternity leave, if I want to be productive, I need to find things I can finish in an hour or less. Staying home with kids is faaaaaaar from easy and it is rare to have longer than an hour uninterrupted. I’m honestly not sure how people do it every day if multiple kids are involved. Since I wanted to stay productive, I started picking small specific things to tackle each day (and used the Roomba as my sidekick). So far it is working and the house is staying clean while the baby stays happy.
Then I thought, I bet people could use a list of quick money wins to hammer out on their commute or breaks at work. Most of the below tasks take under 30 minutes to complete and can save you money or a headache later.
Quick Financial Tips You Can Do Today
I am all about the action, some of these may not seem like a big deal but if you stack enough of them up they can make a HUGE, lasting impact on your money. The effort is low, the rewards can be big. Are you ready for 10 quick financial tips you can knock out today? Get to work and check them off as you go.
Quick Financial Tip #1: Find a Better Credit Card
I have gotten pretty into Travel/Credit Card hacking over the last 8 months and my only regret is not starting earlier. I held onto my first two credit cards for waaaaaay too long and was doing myself a disservice. Even if you don’t want to go full-blown credit card churning, I would still look once a year to see what is available from a bonus or cash back.
In 2018 we made over $2,800 by simply using our credit cards, it was the easiest money we have ever made. Hands down. It took under 5 hours to make that much money, and as long as you pay your balance off every month it is a win-win. I walk through all the cards I used in the previous link.
Personally, I use NerdWallet as the starting point for new credit cards, but there are a ton of great sites out there with some simple googling.
Quick Financial Tip #2: Check your Credit Score
Numerous benefits of watching and maintaining your credit score:
- A high score gives you better interest rates on loans (car/mortgage for example)
- Helps you identify/deter identity theft (credit cards/loans taken out in your name)
- A good score makes Travel Hacking way easier as the best bonus cards require high to excellent credit scores. (Remember to beware the cons of travel hacking)
- If you want to get the best deals from your cable and cell phone provider you need to have a decent credit score. I didn’t know this was a thing until they checked when we switched cell phone providers to make sure we were eligible for an advertised promotion.
Best news it is free to monitor! I personally use Credit Karma to check in once a month (not an affiliate link). They will even send me emails whenever something changes to make it even easier.
Quick Financial Tip #3: Find a Better Checking Account
Fees. Fees. And More Fees.
If you are getting charged fees or have minimum balance requirements it’s time to check around for something free. Magnify Money has a free checking account tool that helps you find something less complicated and fee-free (not an affiliate link).
I am 100% against setting money on fire and that is essentially what this is. There are too many great online or modern banks that understand fees are obsolete. A basic checking account shouldn’t cost you money, replace it today.
Quick Financial Tip #4: Get Life Insurance
Of all the Quick Financial Tips this one is the most important.
Before we had kids, life insurance was not a priority or top of mind. Our jobs provided enough that if something happened to either us we would be ok for a few years before we had anything to worry about. Now that we have two young kids to take care of, adequate life insurance coverage is a must. Thinking of one of us dealing with a loss, taking care of 2 kids AND worrying about money would keep me up at night.
I stumbled across Haven Life last year and decided to check it out. I was so impressed I reached out to them the next day and asked if they have an affiliate program because it was that good. In under 30 minutes, we had a $500,000 term life policy approved for each of us.
Here is a referral link if you want to check them out, I may get a commission if you sign up using that link.
Quick Financial Tip #5: Cancel or Downgrade a Service or Subscription
This is one of those things that sneaks up on ya every month. Then the charge hits. You get mad and think I need to do something about that “tomorrow”. Tomorrow never comes and you repeat that cycle next month. I have done this with a gym after we moved, and HBO subscription, and put off cutting the cord (kind of) for too long.
Calling into customer support to cancel sucks, but not as much as stacking up $100s of dollars for something you don’t use. Laziness is the subscriptions companies best friend! Take your cash back.
Tip #6: Move your savings account/emergency fund to a High Yield Bank
High-Yield is in comparison to the .05% most traditional brick and mortar banks offer on savings accounts. Interest rates are ticking up as I write this and the best online banks are offering 2.25% (2018) not going to make you rich, but a hell of a lot better than .05% and it only takes a few minutes to set one up from home.
NerdWallet wins again here for me and is my go to search for narrowing down which account to use (I use Barclays, but I’m sure they are all pretty similar).
Quick Financial Tip #7: Start Tracking your Net Worth
“What Gets Measured Gets Managed”
If you don’t know where you stand it is hard to improve your position. Since we started tracking our Net Worth a few years ago it has grown SIGNIFICANTLY! The tool I use is called Personal Capital and it is very easy to use and has a ton of awesome features to help you keep track of your investment performance and investment allocation. It is the only FinTech tool I regularly use and I absolutely love it.
If you want to give it a try here is a referral link – I may be compensated if you sign up and meet certain requirements.
Tip #8: Shop for Auto and Home Insurance
Sounds daunting, but it has gotten a lot easier to do these days. I called two major providers, gave them some basic info, which involved reading off my current coverages from my current provider’s website. They took the info, ran their calculations and emailed me the results with all the discounts they could offer.
When I found the lowest one, they canceled my existing policy and switched everything over that day. The only thing I had to do was give them permission to help me save a few hundred dollars/year.
Quick Financial Tip #9: Make sure you are getting the Full 401K Match
Of all the quick financial tips on this page, this one is my favorite and outside of Life Insurance is the most important.
You can go in-depth on all the 401k benefits in the below two posts, but free tax-deferred money should never be left on the table. It is a must, even if you have debt. It takes 5 minutes online to increase your withholding.
Tip #10: Open a Roth IRA
The more time I spend thinking about the tax-free gains in a Roth IRA the more I love it. I wish I would have started funding one when I was in high school and working part-time. It is a perfect compliment to the 401K, but you can only put in $5,500 (2018 limit) and there is an income threshold.
Open one even if you can’t fully fund it. Set up a small transfer each paycheck to get the ball rolling. There are a lot of low-cost places you can invest in index funds (E*Trade has free trade options for great broad market funds and Vanguard is always an option).
Bonus Quick Financial Tips
I started with 10, but here are some bonus Quick Financial Tips that can help you save money.
Bonus Tip #1: Sign up For Grocery Store Rewards Card
If you shop at the same grocery store or gas station every week, you should take a few minutes and sign up for their rewards cards. there are a Few perks:
- Don’t have to clip coupons to get savings (because who likes clipping coupons?)
- Get Gas discounts at certain grocery stores – I have seen rewards for total spend and/or for buying certain items. DO NOT BUY JUST TO BUY! It defeats the saving purpose
- “Freebies” – We get a free cup of coffee or cash wash every month at our gas station chain for being a rewards member
Bonus Tip #2: Take Advantage of Discounts Your Company Negotiates
If you need a quick financial tip look no farther than your company’s benefits page. Our company has special deals with a few providers that save us money every month:
- Cell phone plan – We save 7% on our Verizon bill due to a company discount (Saves us approx $10/month)
- Childcare – We have a 10% discount available to us for a few local childcare providers (If we used one of these providers it would be ~$60/month savings)
- Public Transportation – Our company negotiates and subsidies part of our public transportation pass.
Taking advantage of everything your employer provides is a smart money move. Check it out today
Bonus Tip #3: See if your utility company offers savings programs
Our electric company offers a “Savers Switch” program that gives us a 15% discount for the 6 months our air conditioner is running. They will be able to cycle our system on and off but will only do it in 20-minute increments so we won’t even notice. We should save between $10 and $25/month 6 months a year. They have a few other programs we are going to look into to see if we can cut our energy savings even more next year.
It may also be worth looking into a smart thermostat. We switched to one and it makes it way easier to adjust your temperature when all you need to do is pull out your cell phone. We got an Ecobee (at a discount from our energy provider) and I couldn’t be happier with the results to date. Added bonus, it alerts you when your furnance isn’t running or if your house gets outside the temperature range you set. Peace of mind when we are away from the house for a week over the winter. Coming home to frozen pipes sounds like a nightmare.
Bonus Tip #4: Dosh App (36)
Overall, I am pretty skeptical about shopping apps, some of them definitely work and Dosh did seem too good to be true. You link your cards, and if you shop at certain stores money automatically goes into your account. The good part is it works, I tested it with a few Sam’s club purchases (Which I frequently see on the list of active retailers). Got an extra 2.5% cash back on what I bought (on top of the credit card cash back percentage) instantly sent into my account.
- Easy to set up
- No effort after you link your cards
- Easy referral program
- If you don’t shop at a lot of the stores on the list you won’t make much money (I have seen 8% at Sams Club and Sephora, so if you shop there often it is worth it for sure)
- For those that don’t like attaching their cards to another online service, it may not be for you.
Quick Financial Tips – Wrap Up
Do 1 or do all, I put these quick financial tips together to get people moving in the right direction. Sometimes all it takes is a few quick wins to get the ball rolling. If you really want to compound the winning after you finish one of these financial tips, use the money you save to pay down debt faster or
Once you finish these up head over to my Financial Independence Action Series and check out some other actionable financial tips.
What do you think of my Quick Financial Tips? Are there any other quick financial tips you have that can be knocked out easily?