The 12 Habits of Savvy, Financially Stable People

Disclosure: We’re letting you know that this post contains sponsored links which The Smart Wallet receives compensation for, which may impact their order of appearance because talking about money should always be an honest discussion.

We all have habits deeply ingrained into our brains. Some of those habits, like holding the door for others or tipping the pizza guy, are great instincts. Others, like ordering Chinese takeout when you know there’s only $30 left in your bank account? Yea, maybe not so great.

If you want to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck and finally embrace a financially stable lifestyle, you need to change some of your habits. Luckily, you have plenty of role models to give you inspiration.

These habits of savvy, financially stable people demonstrate exactly how to improve your financial wellness.

Use these tips to stop wondering how you’re going to afford the electricity bill and instead start wondering where to invest your growing savings.

Habit 1: Not Tossing Receipts Until They’ve Been Scanned for Free Money!

Alice Ly / The Smart Wallet

Did you know that it’s 325% more expensive to eat out versus eating at home*? That’s why one of the best habits is to cook more at home while saving a lot of money.

You’ll be aware of all the ingredients in your meal,  in addition, you can get paid just for shopping!

It’s simple. All you have to do is take a picture of your grocery receipt and Ibotta will pay you cash.

Here’s how it works:

Before you go to the store, search for your shopping list items in the Ibotta app. After your store visit, take a photo of your receipt to get cash back.

Ibotta is free to download and you’ll also get up to $20 in Welcome Bonuses when you sign up!

Some offers we found:

  • 25 cents back on any item
  • $3 – $5 back on various wine
  • $2 back on KIND Protein Bars
  • 25 cents – $4 back on ice cream
  • $2 back on Herbal Essence Haircare

Popular stores are Walmart and Target, but Ibotta also works at restaurants, online shopping sites, and at the bar! On average, active Ibotta users save up to $240 a year or more. What would you do with that extra money?

Welcome Bonus: Up to $20
Average savings a month: $20
What it could add up to in a year: $240
Additional Referral Earnings: $5 per referral

Habit 2: Never Overpaying on Auto Insurance 

You’re sharing the same roads with a lot of different people. Distracted people, oblivious people, road-rage people, etc. It’s best to cover yourself with insurance when everyone is operating a giant motor vehicle.

That’s why car insurance exists and is mandatory. You might be overpaying on your current insurance premium since it can be a hassle finding another provider.

However, you can search for quotes easily on EverQuote. They help match you among dozens of regional agencies and insurance carriers to filter the best matches to save on your car insurance.

It takes about 4 minutes to fill out the form and you’ll see a list of matches that show potential online quotes, email, and potential phone quotes.

EverQuote can save drivers $610 a year on average* compared to their current insurance premiums. Once you see your list of potential matches, choose the online ones you want or wait for more information via email or phone.

It’s a pretty simple process, so try it out to see how much you could be saving on the road!

Habit 3: Maximizing Cash Back on Shopping Whenever Possible

Before you crumple up that receipt in your pocket or forever lose it in the abyss of your purse, scan it into the Fetch Rewards app, and earn points towards free money. I repeat, free money.

It’s ridiculously simple and actually fun to use.

Shop at any grocery store, convenience store, club store, neighborhood store, or big box store, take a picture with the app, and that’s it. (Favorites include Target, Kroger, and Walmart!)

Unlike other apps, you don’t have to go to specific stores, there’s nothing to pre-select prior to shopping, and there’s no minimum spend. Just scan in any receipt from a store that sells groceries (even when you didn’t actually buy any groceries) and boom, points for money.

You can start cashing out as soon as $3 (3,000 points) and you can grab a $2 welcome bonus on us (2,000 points) when you use promo code REWARD before scanning your first receipt!

  • Welcome bonus: $2
  • Average savings a month (depends on purchases): $25
  • What it could add up to in a year: $302
  • Additional referral earnings: $2 per referral

Habit 4: Keeping Peace of Mind for Loved Ones

Luis Quintero

When you hear “life insurance” the first 2 things that might come to mind are death and finances. Ultimately it’s “I love you” money to your family after you’ve passed away.

So for most people, life insurance is logical but the long process could be deterring. Some life insurance companies can take up to 2.5 months for the approval process to complete, including lots of paperwork and a comprehensive medical exam which may be inconvenient.

But one company is trying to change all that. Bestow’s mission is to offer affordable term life insurance in under 5 minutes without you having to talk to anyone. No exam needed either.

You can get up to $1 million in coverage and they offer 2 years, 10 years and 20 years term options.

All of Bestow’s policies are underwritten by North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®, who’s been around for over 100 years and holds an A+ (Superior) rating with A.M. Best, a global credit rating agency for insurance companies.

In plain English terms, it means your policy is provided by dependable insurance giants who have been serving customers for many years.

So if you’re between the ages of 21-54, here’s what they’ll ask:

  • Your basic information (Name, Email, Address, SSN etc)
  • Some Life questions (medical history, hobbies, lifestyle)
  • Beneficiaries (who would receive the money after insured’s death)
  • Policy and payment details (If approved, you choose the monthly payment and enter credit card info)

Each policy has a “free look” period (usually 30 days) which means you can cancel if it’s not right for you and get a full refund.

And you can easily change your policy at any time based on life events like marriage, job loss, divorce, etc.

Life insurance talk isn’t fun but Bestow is attempting to make it as easy as possible for people to get covered quickly. Go ahead and see what your rates are in just under 5 minutes. It’s the biggest “I love you” you can give to your loved ones.

Habit 5: Always Sticking to a Budget

Savvy folks don’t tend to go astray on their budget because they know how much they have.

Truebill easily helps you budget, even if you’re clueless. Their simple to follow budgeting pulls your historical spending, organizes it, and allows you to clearly see your spending so you can set a target budget with context. (Aka you can see where you’re wasting money on).

Truebill’s five-star reviews come from people formerly bad at budgeting. Dawn H. said “LIFE CHANGING!!!! I was never able to save money or budget myself but with Truebill all the work is done for you! I am very grateful.”

Truebill will also alert you if you’re getting a little too spend-happy in your budgeted categories so you know when to curb it. Another user, Krystyna D. said, “This app is a lifesaver for budgeting. It lists your transactions in a minimalist and customizable way, has a spending graph that compares your current spending based on last month, and has a really great budgeting feature. I’ve been using the app for just about 7 months and they’ve done nothing but make a really great improvement to the service. I’ve tried some of the other services and they’re all cluttered and give you too much info without making what you want to see accessible.”

It’s simple but actionable budgeting that anyone can follow and it’s free to use! Join the many users today and control your spending with Truebill!

Habit 6: Handling Student Loans the Smarter Way

Helloquence

44.7 million Americans have student loan debt, making the total student loan debt in the United States above $1.47 trillion dollars(*). However, there are options to ease that financial burden.

One way is to refinance your student loans (whether they’re federal, private, or ParentPLUS), consolidating that debt at a lower interest rate.

Once again Credible has made that part easy. Their loan marketplace helps you find prequalified rates from multiple lenders in just 2 minutes.

They can help you find options to lower your interest rate, reduce your monthly payment, or both! To see your options, just fill out a quick information sheet and compare your prequalified rates – without impacting your credit score. You can even get your finalized offer in as little as one business day.

There are no prepayment penalties, loan application fees, or origination fees through Credible’s lending partners, and the marketplace is free to use!

What About Credit Card Debt?

Credit card debt can be crushing if not held in check, especially if the APRs are crazy high. Why pay back even more interest when you can potentially get a lower rate via debt consolidation instead?

Debt consolidation may sound complicated but it just means you’re borrowing money at a low-interest rate and using that money to pay off the outstanding balances from your high-interest credit card. Over time, you’ll save money by not having to pay the higher APR.

Keep things simple by using Credible, as they’ll help you find prequalified personal loan rates from multiple lenders in just minutes. It’s free to use, has zero fees, and checking rates has no impact on your credit score.

Just fill out one simple form and compare your options.

Since Credible’s lending partners offer broad options, just choose the one that fits your needs!

Habit 7: Investing Money (Even if You’re Not Rich)

Cait Brice – The Smart Wallet | *photo for illustrative purposes only

If you feel a little clueless whenever there’s talk about investment portfolios, you’re not alone. It can sound overly complicated.

However, there’s an app that’s like an easy gateway to investing.

It’s called Stash, an investment app that only takes $1 to start and you’ll also get a $5 bonus after funding your first investment!

They curate from over 250 investments which include stocks and Exchange Traded Funds. You’ll get to choose where to put your money based on things like your personal beliefs, interests, and goals. Their newest feature, Stock-Back™ rewards* lets you invest in brands you spend on with the Stash debit card.* Purchased something at Amazon? Earn Amazon stock rewards. It’s like cash back but with stock!

Finally, investing is no longer for the elite 1% with Stash helping to make it so easy for the rest of us.

Habit 8: Regularly Keeping an Eye on Credit Scores

budget essentials

It’s smart to keep an eye on your credit score to make sure it doesn’t fall too much due to forgotten and unpaid bills. Did you know that a low credit score could affect your ability to actually rent an apartment, get a car and even get a cellphone plan? Yea, let’s try to prevent that from happening.

Credit Sesame is a free credit monitoring service that helps you improve and maintain your score.

You’ll get an easy-to-read view of your total debt plus everything that is contributing to your current score like credit usage, credit age, inquiries, and payment history. It also comes with personal recommendations to help increase your score.

Credit Sesame alerted me immediately when my score decreased because of a credit card and I was able to fix it right away. It’s free to use so this is definitely a must-have in everyone’s life.

Habit 9: Make Interest on Your Money Instead of Wasting it on Fees

No fees banking with Varo

Traditional banks may2 seem to take every opportunity they can to squeeze more money out of you. With everything from a monthly service fee to various hidden fees nibbling away at your account balance. Enter Varo which was founded to provide banking services without the hidden fees.

Yep, Varo has no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM withdrawal fees. On top of having no fees, Varo lets you make more money on your money. Varo provides a high-yield savings account that starts at 1.61% Annual Percentage Yield (APY)1 that can move up to 2.80% APY1 based on qualifying activity. To put this into perspective, the average APY of the 5 biggest national banks is 0.09%.*

Varo has a few sweet extra features too:

  • Get your paycheck up to 2 days earlier^
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Over 55,000+ AllPoint® ATMs worldwide to use your Varo Visa® debit card
  • Offers personal loans to pre-qualified customers who want to consolidate debt
  • Varo will send any paper check to anyone in the U.S. on your behalf
  • “Save the Change” rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and saves the difference to your Varo savings account

If you’re sick of being charged banking fees and want to make more out of your money, check out Varo. It takes less than 5 minutes to learn more and apply for free.

Habit 10: Making Savings Fun!

Look, we know saving money is boring, but it’s just one of those non-negotiables in life. 63% of Americans don’t even have enough to cover a $500 emergency. Yikes.

That’s why Long Game Savings is actually making saving fun by just playing free games on their app. Games are light and easy-to-play (think lotteries, scratchers, slots, and more) and you can win daily cash prizes up to $1M (yes, million) and crypto!

When you set up a savings account, you access the games. The more money you save, the more you can play and now, their new debit card lets you earn more rewards just by spending normally. It has a RoundUp feature that lets your purchases be rounded up to the nearest dollar with the change going towards your savings. So every time you’re buying a meal, getting stuff at Target, etc, you’re contributing to your savings and earning interest!

Long Game Savings is completely free-to-use as banks pay them, not you. There’s no way to lose money, but plenty of ways to earn and win! Plus you can withdraw your money at any time.

Habit 11: Betting On Yourself for Positive Health Motivation

There’s nothing like money motivation right? Especially for fitness.

You might be extra inspired because there’s a health and wellness company that will pay you to lose weight. Seriously!

It’s called HealthyWage .

They have a ton of testimonial/pictures on their site along with legit places reviewing them from CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.

So if you need some money motivation to lose weight, here’s how it works:

1. Start with the HealthyWage calculator (Read More )
2. Decide on a weight goal & amount of time to achieve it
3. Bet on yourself ranging from $20-$150 a month
4. Achieve your goal and you could win up to $10,000 depending on your HealthyWager!
5. If you don’t achieve your goal, the money goes to support HealthyWage, including prizes for others who achieve their goals

Habit 12: Re-Evaluate Your Credit Cards

There’s no magic number to how many credit cards you should have since it depends on how you handle them, like paying on time. But if you’re curious, TransUnion and Postconsumers.com reported that the average American carries 3.5 credit cards.

So if it’s time to re-evaluate the cards in your wallet, or if your credit score has changed, the choices could get a little overwhelming as there are around 1 billion credit cards in circulation in the U.S.!*

Make it easier on yourself by using Fiona’s free directory, which compares credit cards for you. Filter by credit score rating, balance transfers, rewards, low interest, travel perks, improve credit, and more.

You’ll most likely stick with your credit card(s) for a while, so take the time to make sure you like what you’re swiping and that it fits your needs. A free resource like Fiona will definitely make it easier for you to decide!

*Bestow is currently not available in New York

*EverQuote’s individual savings, if any, and premiums will vary by customer. Savings amount based on countrywide survey of users from Nov 2018 to Apr 2019 who reported old and new premiums.

*Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

*Stash Stock-Back™ rewards is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A., or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program.

*Debit Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank and Stash Visa Debit card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association. Account opening of the debit account is subject to Green Dot Bank approval. Green Dot Bank operates under the following registered trade names: GoBank, Green Dot Bank and Bonneville Bank. All of the registered trade names are used by, and refer to a single FDIC-insured bank, Green Dot Bank. Deposits under any of these trade names are deposits with Green Dot Bank and are aggregated for deposit insurance coverage. Your debit account is insured to the regulatory limits by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Green Dot is a registered trademark of Green Dot Corporation. ©2019 Green Dot Bank. All rights reserved. Investment products and services are not offered by Green Dot Bank and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value.

*In order for you to be paid early, your payroll or benefits payment provider must submit the deposit early. It is important to note that your payroll or benefits payment provider may not submit the deposit or payment early each payment period. Be sure to ask your payroll or benefits payment provider when they submit your deposit information to the bank for processing. Faster access to funds is based on comparison of traditional banking policies and deposit of paper checks from employers and government agencies versus deposits made electronically. Direct Deposit and earlier availability of funds is subject to payer’s support of the feature and timing of payer’s funding.

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