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As it turns out, noticeably more people are scared for their children’s future these days.
Yep. According to a survey by financial advice website WalletHub, roughly 13 million more Americans are scared about their children’s financial future compared to last year.
Of course that makes sense, what with the COVID-19 pandemic and a rocky economy and all. Still, that statistic stuck with us. So if you find yourself worrying about your financial future and that of your children, here are seven practical, real-life steps you can take to improve things:
1. Optimize Your Retirement Savings
If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, contributing to it is a no-brainer. It reduces your taxable income, keeping more money in your pocket and out of Uncle Sam’s. It’ll ultimately mean a better financial future for your children if you can support yourself in retirement.
“Take advantage of your full company match,” says Jeff Dixson, a financial adviser in Vancouver, Washington, who hosts a radio show called the Retirement Coach. “If they match 3%, contribute 3%. If they match 6%, try to get to 6%. That’s free money. There’s nowhere else you’re going to get free money.”
If you’re self-employed or don’t have access to a 401(k) plan through an employer, try to automatically have some savings deducted from your pay and funneled into a tax-free or tax-deferred retirement fund like an IRA. It basically works the same.
2. Start Investing Today — Yes, Today
If you want to build wealth for your family’s future, the time to start is now. Not a year from now. Start today — even if you have to start small!
Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice all the billionaires have one thing in common — they all own companies, or parts of companies. But if you work for a living, that can sound totally out of reach.
That’s why so many people use the app Stash. For as little as $1*, it lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the rich — buying parts of companies
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies like Amazon, Google or Apple for as little as $1. It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**
3. Leave Your Family up to $1M
Speaking of your family’s future, have you thought about how they’d manage without your income after you’re gone? Chances are your checking account balance won’t last forever.
Here’s the thing: You should keep a healthy amount of savings in the bank, but if you want to give your family up to $1 million if the worst happens, you’ll need life insurance.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But it takes only minutes if you go with an online insurance company like Bestow. We hear people are paying as little as $8 a month. (But every year you wait, this gets more expensive.)
It’s super quick to get a free quote and see how much life insurance you can leave your loved ones — even if you don’t have seven figures in your bank account.
4. Manage Your Credit Like a Boss
Your credit score is important. The better your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. And the ability to do things like buy a house for your family will have a huge impact on your kids’ long-term financial future.
Even if you’re not buying a house anytime soon, a lousy credit score means you’ll get hit with a high security deposit when you rent a car or move into a new apartment, so it’s worth monitoring now.
But did you know your credit score could be inaccurate? One out of five credit reports have an error, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission.
To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. It breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how to address it.
James Cooper, a motivational speaker, raised his credit score 277 points this way. Like him, 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.***
5. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
Credit card debt is a huge factor in how positively or negatively we think about the future. If you have credit card debt, then you know about the anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape. Also, your credit card company is 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 keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
6. Cut Down this Big Monthly Bill
The experts will tell you to cut every single unnecessary purchase out of your life so you can pay off debt. The fancy coffee. The avocado toast. The dinner out. They’ll even make you feel guilty about it.
Sure, it is important to limit your fun spending. But the truth is, when it comes to cutting expenses, you have bigger fish to fry — like your car insurance.
You’ve probably been overpaying your name-brand coverage thousands of dollars over the last few years. A company called Gabi wants to fix that by reaching out to 40 different companies on your behalf.
Gabi has the relationships with insurance companies to make sure they stop ripping you off. In fact, you can keep the same coverage you already have — and get an average of $961 back in your bank account this year.
You don’t have to make any calls or fill out any forms. It takes two minutes to see how much Gabi can put back in your pocket. And the best part? You never have to think about this again. Gabi will keep on doing this for you — for free.
7. Grow Your Money 16x Faster — Without Risking Any of It
You’ve probably heard the best way to grow your money is to stick it in a savings account and leave it there for, well, ever. That’s bad advice.
But maybe you’re just looking for a place to safely stash it away — but still earn money. Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account won’t do you much better. (Ahem, 0.06% is nothing these days.)
But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Not too shabby!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
It’s understandable that more people are scared for their children’s future these days.
Besides finding that 13 million more people are scared about their children’s financial future compared to last year, WalletHub’s survey also found that roughly 22 million more Americans are having nightmares about money problems this year compared to last year.
Don’t let the nightmares win! Taking some real action can make you feel better.
*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
***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.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.