Not all of us are born to be organizational wizards, but if you want to get ahead with your money, you’ve got to get it under your control. It’s the only way you’ll get any of the big stuff done, such as paying off debt, taking a real vacation, buying a house or saving for retirement.
We get it, though. Not all of us keep everything neatly filed, color-coded, alphabetized and prioritized. And you don’t have to be.
Here are seven things you can do — in seven days — to get your finances under control:
Day 1: Make a Budget That Works for YOU
Creating a budget is one of the best ways to organize your finances, but it’s important to set up a budget that’s a fit for you. How else will you stick to it?
One of our favorite budgeting methods is the 50/20/30 method. It’s one of the most straightforward budgeting strategies, and it offers a lot of flexibility.
Here’s how it works:
- 50% of your income goes toward essentials.
- 20% goes toward financial goals.
- 30% goes toward personal spending.
Once you get the hang of it, you can tweak the ratios to fit your specific situation. Some people like to put more toward their savings, while others need a bit more for expenses. Take some time to find what works best for you and your goals.
Day 2: Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month
If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape…
And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could help you pay off your debt years faster.
Day 3: Add up to 300 Points to Your Credit Score
When it comes to your credit score, it’s important to stay organized and keep tabs on it. After all, it’ll play an essential role in any big purchase you want to make — whether that’s a home or a car.
So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.
Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.* “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.
Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
Day 4: Secure Up to $1 Million in Life Insurance; Rates Start at $5/Month
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? How they’ll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? It’s easy to procrastinate, but now’s a good time to start planning for the future by securing a life insurance policy.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes — and you could leave your family $1 million with a company called Bestow.
Rates start at just $5 a month, and you can change or cancel your plan at any time. Plus, the security of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam, pushy sales calls or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
Day 5: Cancel Your Car Insurance
Chances are, you know it’s entirely possible to find a better deal on some of your pesky monthly bills but what a hassle.
Here’s an easy one to start with, though: Car insurance. You should be shopping your options every six months or so. It could save you some serious money.
A company called The Zebra will do this for you. It makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices for the same exact coverage you already have. Plus, it makes canceling your current can insurance and switching plans a breeze.
Take Lourdes Robles-Velazquez, for example. The single mom lives on a tight budget. She was paying $205 a month to insure two Toyota Priuses — hers and her daughter’s. By using comparing prices, she knocked $80 off her monthly car insurance bill. That’s nearly $1,000 in savings per year. The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.
Wondering how much you could save? Head over to The Zebra, and link up your current insurance account (this is how it gets you that apples-to-apples comparison). Then, browse your options. It takes all of two minutes.
Day 6: Have a Huge Bonfire
You’ve probably got a bunch of boxes and folders filled with financial paperwork you don’t need anymore.
Scan all of those docs, and save them in a secure file on your computer (this is important — you need these!). Then, eliminate all the physical and mental clutter… with a bonfire.
It will feel good to burn those superfluous stacks, and you can also use it as an excuse for a fun get-together with your friends.
Once you’re done, say goodbye to extra paper, and sign up for electronic statements on all your accounts to keep your life tidy and organized in the future.
Day 7: Get Up to $500 in Free Stock
If you feel like you don’t have enough money to start investing, you’re not alone. But guess what? You really don’t need that much — and you can even get free stocks (worth up to $500!) if you know where to look.
Whether you’re got $5, $100 or $800 to spare, you can start investing with Robinhood.
Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits. Plus, it’s super easy to use.
What’s best? When you download the app and fund your account (it takes no more than a few minutes), Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $5 to $500 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.
*Like Buitureria, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.