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: 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 don’t know how to. 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, Clee M. said “This app is 100% true in what it advertises. I am normally skeptical about connecting my bank info to apps. This app is completely safe and easy to use!”
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 2: Regularly Keeping an Eye on Credit Scores
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 3: 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 4: 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 5: Always Getting Cash Back for All the Uber and Lyft Rides You’re Already Taking
Everyone uses ride-sharing services nowadays, primarily Uber and Lyft. It’s made going out for dinner and drinks so much easier now that you can rely on a phone app to get you home safely after a night out.
But here’s another phone app you’ll want because it can recoup some of your social life money, which we all know, can get pretty expensive. It also gives you points (redeemable for cash) on every ride you take anywhere!
Use Freebird to request your next Uber or Lyft to the bar, restaurant, movies, shopping, airport, (basically anywhere!) and get cash back and points for your ride.
Here’s how it works:
- Download Freebird
- Connect your Uber or Lyft account
- Connect the card(s) you want to get cash back on
- Ride anywhere to participating locations to get cashback
- Ride anywhere else to get points that turn into cash rewards
To earn cash rewards, just visit a participating location that has a cash offer and make a purchase there with your connected card. Once the transaction clears, you’ll see the cash reward in your Freebird account!
You’ll also earn points just for taking an Uber or Lyft anywhere which can be redeemed for cash rewards. However, to get the cash back and points rewards you have to request your Uber or Lyft through the Freebird app. You still earn Uber rewards through the Freebird app though, so there are no losses!
BONUS: For our readers only, use promo code SMARTWALLET to get $5 off the first 3 rides ($15 value!)
Habit 6: Saving on Grocery Trips
Did you know that it’s 325% more expensive to eat out versus eating at home*? Maybe it’s time to make more trips to the grocery store instead.
You’ll be aware of all the ingredients in your meal, in addition, you’ll 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! They’ve already given out $186 million dollars cash back to savers in 2019 alone.
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 even at the bar. On average, active Ibotta users save up to $240 a year or more but the highest saver got $13,000 in cash back this year! 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 7: Investing Money (Even if You’re Not Rich)
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 $5 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.
Finally, investing is no longer for the elite 1% with Stash helping to make it so easy for the rest of us.
Habit 8: Keeping Up With the News
Do you feel like you want to keep up with the news but it’s just too dry, dense, and boring? How do people understand it?
Enter Morning Brew – the free daily email that delivers the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Written in a conversational tone and sprinkled with punchy humor, it makes reading the news actually enjoyable.
From Elon Musk’s latest move to the stock market’s highs and lows, Morning Brew covers the top news shaping the business world. With a touch of culture and lifestyle stories, you’ll get up-to-speed on what you need to know in just five minutes.
Find out why over 1 million people start their day with Morning Brew — sign up for free here.
Habit 9: Make Interest on Your Money Instead of Wasting it on Fees
Traditional banks 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 a fee-free banking service2.
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 1.92% 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 earlier4 (super helpful for rent!)
- 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
- Varo Personal Forecast tracks your spending to manage your cash flow
- “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: Maximizing Cash Back on Shopping Whenever Possible
You can spot the people who loves deals when you make a remark on their outfit or accessory and they respond with “Thanks! I got it on sale!” Make it a habit to adopt that “shop smarter” mentality.
You can start by using Rakuten (previously called Ebates) that helps you get cash back on everyday shopping as well as apparel, beauty, restaurants, and more, automatically. With Rakuten, you don’t even have to upload your receipts after your purchases. They’ll send you simple push notifications when your favorite stores increase their cash back deals or have a good sale.
Offering simple one-tap savings with no points or fees helps ensure that you get the most out of your purchases. So, before buying anything, hop into the app to see if you can get up to 40% cash back at over 2,500 stores.
They also have an amazing referral program where you can earn $25 for each eligible friend. New members get a $10 bonus too!
Adopt the Shop Smarter Mentality for Everyday Purchases Too
If you have room for 1 more app on your phone, then it needs to be this.
Actually, delete another app to make room for this one. It’s that good.
It’s called Drop, a free app that gives you gift cards on stuff you already buy from your favorite stores and brands.
Your everyday purchases from Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart? You’ll get points for that. Points translate to gift cards so the more you collect, the more you can redeem!
The only thing you need to do is link any credit or debit card you usually use for buying stuff and that’s it! Drop will automatically recognize when you buy from your activated offers to reward.
There’s literally no downside to using this free app to get more gift cards. Use it on top of your loyalty points and credit card points for even more rewards!
LIMITED TIME OFFER: Use promo code SMARTWALLET to unlock 5,000 points ($5) automatically when you link your first card on Drop!
Habit 11: Handling Debt the Smarter Way
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!
What About Student Loans? Consider Refinancing
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!
Habit 12: Keeping Peace of Mind for Loved Ones
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.
*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.
*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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