Christmas may be long gone. But just like Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the ghosts of the past, present and future are still visiting you.
They’re the ghosts of all the financial decisions you’ve ever made, the financial decisions you’re making right now, and the financial decisions you’ll make in the year to come.
The ghosts of your lost money are moaning and groaning. They’re pointing accusingly at your empty wallet. They’re gesturing menacingly at you with wads of wrinkled dollar bills.
Mmmwwwuuuaaahhhh, they wail. You should have more moneeeeeyyyyy.
What you need are some ghostbustin’ money tactics. We’ve got seven ways to banish all your money ghosts, one by one.
Make Amends for the Past
Even if you’ve been a little haphazard with your money, it’s never too late to get on the right track. All it takes is a bit of smart financial strategy.
1. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
Talk about evil spirits: The spending of your past is hanging around on your credit card balance in the present day, bleeding you dry. And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s 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 3.49% 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. Fix Your Old Credit Problems
Your credit score is a number between 300 to 850 that measures your credit risk, or the likelihood that you’ll pay your bills on time. It’s important to stay organized and 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.
So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called 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).
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.
Seize the Initiative in the Present Day
Because there’s no time like the present to get your money under control!
3. Knock $540/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes
Speaking of the present, when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?
Well, how about right now? It’s quick and easy.
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. A website called Insure makes it simple 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 — and even discounts in your area.
Using Insure, people have saved an average of $540 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
4. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper
Grocery shopping was never exactly pleasant. But these days, it’s a downright struggle. Fighting crowds; keeping six feet of space — just buying toilet paper is a feat. Shouldn’t you have something to show for it?
A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something…
Looking to the Future
The future will be here before you know it. Best to start preparing now.
5. Scared to Invest? This App Gives You Up to $200 in Free Stock
If you’re not investing at all, you’re not preparing for the future.
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 $200!) if you know where to look.
Whether you’ve 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 $2.50 to $200 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.
6. Get Free Money From Your Boss
One of the smartest things you can do for your future — by a mile — is to set aside money from your paycheck to put into your 401(k). And if your employer matches each contribution, that could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in your account when you retire. It’s free money!
But if you can’t take advantage of this employer benefit because you need all of your paycheck every month, a company called Lendtable will give you the cash.
We know it sounds too good to be true. But if your employer has a 401(k) match program, this is money they already have earmarked for you. By using Lendtable, you’ll be able to unlock that free cash.
Let’s say you make $50k a year and your employer matches your 401(k) contribution up to 4%. If you put $0 in your retirement account this year, you get $0 from your boss. If Lendtable lends you the 4% of your salary your employer is willing to match, you get $2,000 from your boss, minus Lendtable’s fee. (This comes from the extra money you’ve earned, so there’s no sacrifice on your part.)
It takes three minutes to answer a few questions about your eligibility and sign up for an account.
Once you’ve gotten your full match amount from your employer, LendTable will take the money they lent you back, plus a small share of your profit. If there’s a penalty from your retirement account provider for taking money out, Lendtable will cover that, too.
7. Leave Your Family up to $1M
One last point about the future: Have you thought about how your family would 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, use something called term life insurance.
We suggest a company like Bestow. Maybe you’ve considered this before, but thought it was only for rich or older people. But we’re hearing that people are getting it for as little as $16 a month.
You can take advantage of Bestow until you’re 54 years old, but the sooner you take care of this, the cheaper it could be.
You don’t even need to leave your house to get a free quote from Bestow — it takes minutes. Instead of leaving your family with what’s in your checking account and a bucket of worries, they’ll be able to afford the life you’ve always wanted for them.
So there’s your past, present and future all squared away. Banish those pesky financial ghosts for good.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s haunted by financial ghosts too. Boo!