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Wouldn’t it be nice to rid yourself of those financial black clouds bringing you down? The mounting debt, the sinking credit scores, the rising expenses chipping away at your savings?
Of course it would. And it’s definitely possible — with a few smart money moves and tweaks to your spending habits, you can forge a path that will get you going toward a strong financial future.
Just because these are long-term strategies doesn’t mean you can’t get started today. Make these moves to help set yourself up for life.
1. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
If you have credit card debt, your credit card company is going to keep piling on the interest until you pay it off in full. And unless you win the lottery or come into a windfall of cash, that could be hard to do.
But a website called AmOne wants to help. Because the sooner you pay off your debt, the sooner you can set up the rest of your finances for a more stable life.
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 3.49% 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.
2. Put More Focus on Raising Your Credit Score
It’s easy to forget about your credit score when you have more pressing problems wreaking havoc on your finances. But by letting your credit score slip, you could be creating even more issues down the road. Your dreams of owning a home, buying a car or even getting a new job could be busted with a bad score.
So first things first — check your credit score and your credit report. Use a free website like 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).
It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
Now that you know where you stand, use those personalized tips to raise your score and get rid of errors. Whether that’s lowering your credit usage or setting up automatic payments to avoid more late payments, you can make smart decisions now that will
3. Invest With Long-Term Goals In Mind
Yes, short squeezes and options and puts can be exciting. And just like the thrill of gambling in Vegas, you can win big — or lose bigger.
When you’re aiming to set yourself up for life, high-risk investments can set you back. So unless you can afford to lose what you put into volatile investments, don’t.
One of the safest ways to invest long-term is through traditional stock market investments. Sure, it’s not as exciting, but over time the market has gone up an average of 7% each year. That can be a big part of reaching your long-term goals, and an app called Stash can help you get there.
It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1
It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2
Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*
4. Add a Little Bit To Your Emergency Fund Every Week
Setting yourself up for life isn’t a quick fix from your current predicament. But if you invest in yourself a little bit at a time, you can make a big difference in the future.
By adding a little bit of money to your emergency fund every week, you can slowly build it up without putting too much strain on your current budget. The recommended amount is three to six months of expenses, so the sooner you start, the better.
If you don’t already have an emergency fund started, consider putting it in an account that will give you a sign-up bonus, high interest earnings and no surprise fees. We like one called Aspiration that will give you $100 for opening an account.
Sure, a lot of debit cards offer sign-up bonuses throughout the year, but they often require you to jump through hoops with minimum requirements that feel impossible to hit.
But Aspiration makes it simple. To earn your $100, here’s all you need to do: Open your Aspiration account and deposit at least $10. Then set up and receive three direct deposits of at least $500 each from your paycheck or government benefits. That’s it! Then just wait for your check.
Even better? Your debit card gets you up to 10% cash back on your purchases, and the money you keep in there grows at 16 times the national average.
Enter your email address here, and link your bank account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
5. Cut Your Expenses — Even The Mandatory Ones
Setting yourself up for financial security sometimes means cutting the fun stuff from your budget. But before you do that — because we all need our Netflix subscriptions right now — cut the bills you can’t live without.
How is that possible? Start with the places you’re likely overpaying, like your car insurance. When was the last time you even checked for new quotes? If it was more than six months ago, you could have a lower rate by now.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year for the same or similar coverage.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options. Think of how much more that could be long term!
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s not set for life — yet!
1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.
2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.
For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash.
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.
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.