Financially Fit- My Favorite Money Saving Tools
As the COVID-19 virus continues to be the main topic of conversation lately, I thought it would be helpful to dive into some easy ways to manage your money right now. With 70% of businesses being impacted by this horrible virus, now more than ever we need to get creative about HOW we manage our money.
Being disciplined with money is great, but learning what tools to use to manage and grow your money can be overwhelming. Unless you have a background in finance or come from a wealthy family (I don't btw), it can be daunting to learn about all of the ins and outs of investing, saving and insuring your families future. The good news is, there are hundreds of online tools available to help keep your money in check that anyone can master. While I am not an accountant or financial expert (don't sue me), I thought I would share a few of my favorites online tools, plus some tips and tricks I use to guide my financial path.
I am a big advocate for paying yourself FIRST. Several years ago, I started saving money by simply transferring $40 a week into an account not linked at my bank. Because I set up the savings transfer through automatic payment, I did not notice the $40 being deducted from my account every week. Early on I didn't have a lot of money to work with so starting with $40 a week was a safe bet for me at first. As time went on, I felt comfortable increasing my savings transfer by about $10 every few months. Before I knew it, I was saving over $500 a month without really noticing. Setting your savings on automatic draft encourages you to save with minimal effort. By utilizing an account outside of your everyday bank, you are less likely to dip into your savings if you truly do not see it.
Great for Cash Back Saving
I love the Digit app because you can personalize the savings goals depending on your needs. The app is linked with your everyday bank account and analyzes your daily spending. Depending on your daily spending amounts (or the limits you set), Digit will transfer small amounts (usually about $5.00-$8.00 a day) to your savings goals. By downloading the app, you are able to see your savings goal progress in one easy to read interface. Should you ever need to access the money, you can transfer your savings directly back into your account.
Being on a budget can be tough. Without a streamlined, personalized system in place, it is easy to fall off a budget QUICKLY. For my family, we tend to utilize a weekly budget since my husband makes cash through the business a lot. Without making things complicated, AFTER setting aside the money I need for bills, I set a designated amounts for the following categories:
Kids Activities/ Purchases
Personal- nails, haircuts, makeup etc.
I find that food (eating out and groceries) tends to be the area where people overspend so I usually like to set aside cash for those budget areas. Once the cash is gone, we can no longer purchase anything in that category.
For budgeting, I really like the Mint app. The Mint app links to your bank account and allows you to personalize your budget based on your needs. Once you are close to overspending in a certain budget category, the Mint app will send you notifications so you can curb your spending. Since I like to use cash also, I use a combination of the Mint app with the envelope method.
I know you have heard that right now is a great time to invest in the stock market. Since the economy as taken a downturn, shares of stock are at an all time low. When investing, you always want to buy when shares are low and sell when shares are high. The stock market can be super confusing, so I encourage you to link up with a financial advisor if you have any questions before investing.
For beginners I recommend the Robinhood app. The app is user friendly, easy to understand and allows you to purchase, sell or trade stocks all in one place. If you do not know the first thing about purchasing stocks and you are unsure of where to start. The app shows helpful insights on what financial experts are saying about individual companies.
I am not a credit repair expert. I am still learning how to strengthen and grow my own credit profile. Being young, I made a lot of bad credit mistakes and avoided dealing with them for a long time. Compared to several years ago, I am thankful that my credit has improved substantially.
When I was first on my journey to repairing my credit I used the saving, credit-building tool Self-Lender. Self Lender is an online account that helps build your credit by reporting on-time payments by you saving money. Every month, the Self-Lender account will deduct a set amount out of your bank account and hold that money in a CD account for 12 months. Every time money is deducted from your bank, an on time payment is reported to the credit bureaus just like it would be if you were paying a credit card payment. At the end of the 12 months, you can either cash out your CD account or roll it over into a new Self Lender account to keep building your credit. The account is a major bonus because 12 months of positive payment history can have a major boost to your credit score.
I pray that you will find these tips helpful as you rewrite your own financial story right now. Don't forget, it is never too late to start making a more concentrated effort at strengthening you're finances. Whether you can only afford to save $25 a month or $100 a month, START WHERE YOU ARE NOW AND STAY DISCIPLINED. If you fall off or overspend one month, catch yourself and get right the next month. It is not about where you start, but how strong you become in the process.
If you are interested in hearing more about my financial journey or some of the other methods I use to manage my finances and organize my life, check out my Financial Fitness E-book. In the E-book, I discuss not only how I manage my money, but how I organize my financial documents as well.