In times like these, we could all use a little self-care. Things like getting a massage, maintaining good sleeping habits, eating a vegetable or two, curling up with a good book and sticking with a somewhat regular workout could do us all some good.
Ah, but what about financial self-care? We’re always being reminded to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. But what about your financial health?
We all need that too, because we’re all financially stressed. For example, a survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that a whopping nine in 10 Americans say the COVID-19 crisis is causing stress on their personal finances.
Financial self-care is about lowering your financial stress level by jettisoning bad habits and taking control of your money.
With that in mind, we’ve got six strategies for setting yourself up for financial success:
1. Treat Yourself — and Earn Money Back
Start getting money back whenever you buy groceries. A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and hundreds of other items.
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. You can use receipts from grocery stores, convenience stores, drugstores, liquor stores and more.
For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart. You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something.
2. Set Goals with the Budget for People Who Hate Budgets
Part of financial self-care is building new and better habits — like sticking to a budget. Don’t want to budget? Try the budget for people who hate budgets.
The 50/30/20 method for budgeting is one of the simplest ways to get your spending in check. No 100-line spreadsheets or major lifestyle changes required.
Here’s how it works: Take your total after-tax income each month, and divide it in half. That’s your essentials budget (50%). Take the rest, and divide it into personal spending (30%) and financial goals (20%).
Let’s break it down: That’s 50% for things like utilities, groceries, medications, minimum debt payments and other essential spending. Then there’s 30% for fun: Thai takeout, your Netflix subscription, dressing up a skeleton on your lawn for Halloween.
That leaves 20% for your financial goals, like additional debt-reduction payments (anything above the minimum monthly payment) along with retirement savings and investments.
3. Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes
Speaking of making new habits, when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
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 — and even discounts in your area.
Using Insure, people have saved an average of $489 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
4. Save Up An Emergency Fund
Here’s a real way to reduce the stress of financial “what ifs.”
This past year has taught us the hard way that everyone should have an emergency fund. You need a place where you can safely stash your savings away — but still earn money on it.
Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account won’t do you much better. (Ahem, 0.06% is nothing these days.)
But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Not too shabby!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
5. Reduce Your Fear of the Future — by Investing for the Future
Stop worrying about the future so much and do something about it. You’ll feel better.
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. Leave Your Family up to $1M
Here’s another source of worry in the COVID-19 era: 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.
If you want to leave 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.
To sum it all up: We’re big believers in self-care, and it’s always a good idea to look after your mental, emotional and physical health.
Just don’t neglect your financial well-being, too.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a big believer in self-care.