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
This will probably be the most difficult item on the list — but also one of the most important — so let’s knock it out first: Create a budget. It’s one of the best ways to organize your money and lay the groundwork for hitting your goals.
But where to start? One of our favorite ways to budget is with the 50/20/30 method. It’s straightforward and 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 needs and your goals.
For example, if you want to pay off debt, you might need to allot more money to your financial goals category. If you live in an expensive city, then you might need to bump up your essentials ratio.
The key is to 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
When you think about your credit card debt, you probably feel anxious. It gets tricky keeping track of the balances, the minimum monthly payments and the super-high interest rates.
And while you’re stressing out, your credit card company is getting rich off the interest you pay. But a company called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one (organized!) bill to pay every month. And because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 3.84% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
All that credit card debt — and the stress that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow, and you’ll be well on your way to financial success.
Day 3: Add up to 300 Points to Your Credit Score
When it comes to your credit score, it’s important to 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. And if you have an error on your credit report (one out of five reports do), that could stand in your way.
Thankfully, a website called Credit Sesame will help you detect any errors — for free. If you find any, it will even help you dispute them.
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: Leave Your Family up to $1 Million in Life Insurance (For as Little as $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: Knock $55/Month From Your Car Insurance in 2 Minutes
When’s the last time you looked at your monthly bills? We mean really look. Chances are, you could be saving a ton of money on some of them.
Here’s an easy one to start with: Car insurance. To get the best deal, you should be shopping your options every six months or so, but what a hassle.
Thankfully, a free website called The Zebra will do the shopping for you — in just two minutes.
All you have to do is enter basic information about your car and driving history, then The Zebra compares prices from more than 100 companies to find you the best price.
The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.
If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.
Day 6: Have a Huge Bonfire
How are you feeling today? Now that you’ve made some moves to organize and optimize your finances, it’s time to declutter and have some fun.
Take a good look at your desk, junk drawers, abandoned file boxes and old file cabinets … For many of us, those are full of outdated financial paperwork you don’t need anymore.
Spend today organizing these areas of your life. Shred and toss what you don’t need into a trash bag. What you do need, scan to your computer and save to a secure file.
Then, it’s time to eliminate all the physical and mental clutter … with a bonfire! It’ll 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: Download This App to Get Up to $500 in Free Stock
It’s the last day of the challenge, and it’s time to take a look at your future. Yup — we’re talking about investing!
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.
This content is provided by The Penny Hoarder.
*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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.