It would be great if we were all discovered we had a bottomless trust fund to our name and no longer had to worry about money. But, at this stage, that’s unlikely.
The good news is there’s plenty we all can do today to make things better. Last year may have been a year worth forgetting, but there are lessons worth remembering. Now is the time to take control of your finances.
Here are 11 things you can do today to give your finances a boost.
1. Get paid for using your debit card
Return: Up to 10% back on every purchase.
The bottom line is that if you aren’t getting paid for using your checking account, you’re leaving money on the table.
Let that sink in.
You get paid interest on your savings AND free money for swiping for stuff you would have bought anyway. To top it off, there are no overdraft fees or ATM withdrawal fees at Allpoint ATMs.
2. Give your family a $1 million gift
Return: Up to $1 million in coverage for your loved ones.
Maybe you aren’t a millionaire, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your loved ones a $1 million gift.
Rates vary by person, but a healthy 32-year-old woman who is a non-smoker could get up to $1 million in coverage for just $32.
3. Cut your credit card debt interest in half
Return: It depends on your credit card rates and balances, but you could save thousands.
If you have a bunch of credit card debt revolving every month, stop the madness and do this right now.
SuperMoney can help you get pre-approved for a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card debt. This leaves you with just one bill to pay every month, at a lower rate, so you can get out of debt faster.
Please take two minutes to try SuperMoney’s debt consolidation loan offer engine, which makes it super easy to apply for a consolidation loan across competing lenders.
There are no strings attached. You only need to answer a handful of questions to discover what rates and loan amounts you qualify for. It won’t hurt your credit score, and you could save thousands of dollars by switching your credit card debt for a low-interest consolidation loan.
4. Boost your credit score by up to 200 points
Return: Don’t let your credit score cramp your lifestyle. Just checking your credit reports for errors and fraudulent entries can improve your score, which will lower your rates on loans and improve your chances of getting approved for leases and loans.
What you don’t know about your credit can hurt you. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 20% of people have an error on at least one of their credit reports. You could improve your credit score by hundreds of points just by removing a couple of negative items that shouldn’t be on your credit report.
If you plan on buying a home or care someday, you need to get your credit right, or you’ll end up paying thousands more in interest than you need to.
5. Lower your student loans by $5,500+
Return: Save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
Does it feel like you can’t make a dent in your student debt?
The average college graduate has around $30K in student debt. If you went on to get a professional degree, your total debt might be in the six figures.
Interest rates are much lower now. You could save $5,500 in interest if you have $30K in student debt and drop your rate from 8% to 5%.
Many borrowers are eligible for much lower rates but don’t know where to begin. Find out what you qualify for by trying the SuperMoney student loan refinance engine. It only takes two minutes to apply.
6. Save $93,000 on your mortgage
Return: Save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
If you’re loving the American Dream but hating your mortgage, how does lowering the cost of your mortgage by $93K sound?
That is what a mortgage refinance could do for you if you have a $500K balance and lower your interest rate by just 1%. That is assuming you have a 30-year mortgage, and your current rate is 5.125% APR.
Even if you have a smaller balance, refinancing can help you save thousands of dollars in interest, pay off your mortgage sooner, and even reduce your monthly payment. Use the comparison table below to find the best mortgage refinance company for you.
7. Save 31% on home insurance
Return: Save up to 31% and peace of mind.
You’re required to have homeowners insurance. But that doesn’t mean you need to overpay for it.
If just thinking about homeowners or renters insurance has you breaking out in a rash, you’re not alone. But shopping for homeowners insurance doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
Do you hate filling insurance forms? Then you’ll love that it only takes 90 seconds to get insured and 3 minutes to get paid if you need to make a claim.
8. Ditch your car loan
Return: It varies by case. To illustrate, you will save $8,590 in interest and pay the loan off a year earlier if you refinance a $25K auto loan with a 60-month term and a 10% APR for a 48-month loan with a 6% APR.
You don’t need me to tell you that buying a new car is a terrible investment.
The typical car loses 20 to 30 percent of its value within 12 months. And to make things worse, most of us borrow money to buy that car.
One of the best ways to build financial security is to spend as little as possible on a safe and reliable car. Preferably with cash.
All this is not much help if you already have a car loan. In such a case, you can still save money with an auto loan refinance.
9. Give yourself a $13K raise
Return: The sky’s the limit. Many are earning six figures a year as freelancers.
Thanks to the gig economy, earning a few extra bucks doesn’t have to be a struggle.
Nearly half of Americans have a side job, and they make an average of $1,120 a month to complement their primary job.
10. Embrace the power of automated savings
Return: It depends on the account. Savings accounts typically have low returns, but they are a great place to park your money while you decide where to invest (or spend) it.
Saving money is hard. Remembering every month to transfer a set amount can be next to impossible for many of us.
That is why you shouldn’t even try.
Instead, set up an automatic savings plan and forget about it.
You see, the key to saving money is automation. I advise people to set up a separate account and try to put some friction between that account and their main checking account. By friction I mean you should make it slightly inconvenient to access your savings account or stop the automatic contributions.
The best way to set up your savings plan is to transfer money directly from your paycheck. That way, you don’t even see the money. Out of sight. Out of mind.
In other words, you are less likely to dip into your savings.
11. Put your savings to work
Return: It varies, but Betterment has an average return of around 8%. Compare that to the average return of a savings account, which is around 0.20% APY.
Andrew is the managing editor for SuperMoney and a certified personal finance counselor. He loves to geek out on financial data and translate it into actionable insights everyone can understand. His work is often cited by major publications and institutions, such as Forbes, U.S. News, Fox Business, SFGate, Realtor, Deloitte, and Business Insider.