5 Free Tools You Need to Get Ahead Financially
Recently, I read a study by Payoff which found that nearly 1 in 4 Americans and 1 in 3 millennials suffer from PTSD-like symptoms caused by financially induced stress. One of the major stressors is DEBT. In 2016, the average household owed close to $17,00 in credit card debt and almost $50,000 in student loans. Scary stuff, right?
If you're feeling the pressure of these financial burdens, I'm here to tell you that it is possible to get ahead financially if you create a strategy to do so.
This post contains affiliate links. However, I do not recommend products or services that I haven't personally tried or thoroughly researched. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
Here are five free tools you need to get ahead financially.
The very first step you need in order to stay on top of your finances is to track your spending. You might be surprised to identify several areas where you can scale back or eliminate altogether.
- My husband and I personally like to use Google Sheets to do our budget which can be a pretty manual process. However, it gives us a sense of control of our finances.
- A friend of mine loves using cash envelopes which she stuffs every paycheck! If you're often forgetful (like me) this might not be the best option for you.
- Dave Ramsey's Every Dollar is gaining popularity and is based on the concept of zero-based budgeting.
- Mint.com is another app you could check out. My friend Danielle over at The Pennies We Saved says, "There are several features that I love about this application: tracking my bills/accounts, setting goals and maintaing a budget, just to name a few. Without access to this tool, I'm almost certain I would not be where I am at today in terms of successfully paying off my debt."
- 21 ways we saved in 2016
- How to slash your budget in half worksheet
- How to create a budget you can actually stick to
Having a solid credit score is so important when it comes to making big financial steps in your future. In addition, checking your credit on a regular basis can help you to prevent financial infidelity, avoid identity theft, identify credit report errors and track your progress. There are several items that affect your credit score specifically:
Credit card utilization
Age of credit history
When was the last time you checked your credit? You can download the Credit Sesame app for free today.
Student loans are crippling in so many ways. It's like having a second mortgage that can take many years to pay off. If you have PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS, I strongly recommend seeing if it is possible for you to refinance. In order to refinance, you will need 1) a healthy/stable income 2) a good credit score (there's that credit guy again)! 3) a low credit utilization 4) a desire to get out of debt quickly and 5) an understanding of the fine print. If you meet these criteria, then you can use LendEDU to compare rates for up to 12 respected companies for FREE to determine your lowest interest rate. It takes about 90-seconds to complete the application and it doesn't hurt your credit. You could potentially save thousands of dollars in interest payments on your student loans by starting with LendEDU.
CHIME BANK ACCOUNT
One of the major discoveries my husband and I made when we started tracking our money was that we were paying quite a lot in fees for our bank. Yikes. All because we hadn't read the fine print which said we needed to maintain $100 per day minimum balance or pay $15 in fees. But what if there was an option to avoid fees altogether and with no strings attached?!
Enter Chime. Chime is revolutionizing banking today by eliminating fees and encouraging savings. Unfortunately, Chime does not offer the option for a joint bank account at this time (which is a drawback for us to use it for our regular day to day spending). However, if you are single or if you prefer to keep your finances separate, then this is an excellent option! I also want to mention that Chime rounds up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar and places this amount in your savings account. Plus, each week Chime gives you a 10% bonus on all your round ups - hello free money! Small savings like these may add up to hundreds of dollars throughout the year.
I'm in the process of setting up my Chime bank account to deposit my earnings from one of my side hustles, freelance writing!
BONUS: You will receive $5 when you make an opening deposit of $2! So you get your money back right away, plus $3. To learn how you can make the switch to Chime, visit this link.
A POSITIVE MINDSET
Saved the best for last! No, this isn't the name of an app but it is something that I've found to be absolutely essential if you want to get ahead financially (or with anything else in life for that matter). Where you are today does not have to determine where you WILL BE tomorrow. The important first step is to recognize that you'd like to make a change and every single day make decisions that will take you closer to your goals. It will take sacrifice and grit but it IS possible.
Start with tracking your spending, scaling back your lifestyle, aggressively paying down debt, taking on a side hustle or two and you'll be surprised at what you will achieve. My husband and I were able to pay off $13,000 in credit cards plus save $10,000 in six months by implementing these steps. If we can do it, so can you!
Now, it's your turn! Are there any tools that you have used in order to get ahead financially? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below or by email! P.S. I would also love for us to connect on Facebook (I'm starting to hangout there a lot more)! You can find me on Facebook @KimGaletaBlog.