All the technological efficiencies of the past decade or so have made our lives easier and more efficient, for the most part. We can speedily catch up on the news, book travel, Facetime with relatives from across the globe — but while we are busy hacking every other aspect of our lives, what about money hacks that will help us save more cash and bank more efficiently? Advances in technology are helping us live more productive and efficient lives — so why do we still bank and manage our finances like we are in the dark ages?
With the current tools available to us, we should be able to payoff debt faster, spend more, save more, and compromise less. I’m Priya Malani, co-founder of Stash Wealth, where we work with H.E.N.R.Ys™ (High Earners, Not Rich Yet!). After starting my career at Merrill Lynch over a decade ago, I left Wall Street behind to change the way Millennials think about money. Stash clients are ambitious 20- + 30-somethings around the country who want to get their [financial] sh*t together. Here are some of my favorite money hacks I suggest to my clients, to help kick your finances into the 21st century so that you put an end to your financial guilt. You work hard for your money and some of these hacks are even be about making your money work hard for you... I like the sound of that, don't you? It's about freaking time. Read on for six things you can do, each in under an hour, to streamline your finances and instantly bump your bottom line.
1) Trade Up Charge Cards (In 45 Minutes)
Swap out your main credit card for better perks. If you’re not much of a traveler or never ever grocery shop, you could be under-utilizing your rewards programs. The Points Guy is a great resource to help you translate which credit card companies have the benefits that make the most sense for you. Take a few minutes to read through your options and then make the switch. One percent cash back may be more valuable to you than 3X points on gas or hotels. A great resource is a website The Point Guy. One of our favorite cards right now for cash back rewards is the Chase Freedom Card. It’s a free card and every quarter they offer 5X points in different categories.
2) Transfer Your Credit Card Balance (In One Hour)
Credit card interest can wreck havoc on your bottomline. If you’re chipping away at a balance on your credit card but simultaneously feeling ill by how much you're paying in interest, a balance transfer may be just the thing for you. It’s likely that you are paying a hefty interest fee on your balance and that means paying way more than you need to or have to. Many credit cards offer a 0 percent promotional rate for the first 12-18 months. If, and only if, you’re in a position to pay off your entire balance during the promotional time period, make the transfer to a new card with the 0% promotional rate and save yourself from paying any interest at all. While this may take about an hour to complete, it’s well worth the money you will save. Couldn’t you find better things to spend that extra money on than giving it to your credit card company – like happy hour? Note: there may be a small balance transfer fee (usually around three percent) but the savings will more than compensate.
3) Contribute To Your IRA (In Two Minutes)
Did you know that you can save on taxes by paying your future self? In most cases, when you contribute to your IRA (Individual Retirement Account), the IRS allows you to deduct that amount from your taxable income, lowering your overall tax bill. The time involved? However long it takes you to write a check and mail it in, or less yet if you have a link set up between your checking and retirement account. Forget an hour — you could make the transfer in under two minutes. No excuses on this one. Visit the IRS website to see if your contribution qualifies for tax-deductible status or check with a tax pro. Your future-self with thank you immensely!
4) Create Sub-Savings Accounts (In One Hour)
What are you saving for? This hack is stolen from the pages of the smartest financial planning books. The concept of sub-savings accounts has been used by some of the richest individuals on the planet to build wealth. The key take away is: don’t save for sake of saving, save with a goal in mind, a beach vacation, perhaps?. Not only does this provide the motivation needed to stick with your savings plan but it helps in moments when you find yourself deciding between a mindless or mindful purchase (regretting all those Blue-ray DVDs when you just had to have the newest technology?). Instead of stashing any excess dollars in a single savings account, segregate and specify. If you average an extra $300 a month that you can commit to saving, separate it so that a little bit goes towards each goal and automate it to do so — $50 to holiday gifts, $60 towards building an emergency fund, $100 towards retirement savings, $40 towards an annual travel fund, etc.
CapitalOne360 has an awesome online system that allows you to open and nickname savings accounts according to the goal and then automate the funding process. It’s amazing how much more financially confident you’ll feel seeing these accounts grow with little to no involvement other than the original set up.
5) Resell Your Clothes You No Longer Need (In 10 Minutes)
Did you really need that shirt in three colors? It’s a great practice to de-clutter your closet once or twice a year and resell some of the stuff you don't need anymore — but it’s no fun to list, package, and ship out old clothes. Sites like Linda’s Stuff take on the entire process from start to finish in exchange for a cut of sales. Make it a practice to mail them a box twice a year and then reap the benefits by receiving random checks in the mail as your stuff sells. Those little checks can add up to big savings. The sign up process with Linda’s Stuff takes under 10 mins, so make it a must-do.
6) Sign Up For Level Money (In 30 Minutes)
Level Money is my favorite new money app for 20 and 30-somethings, and you should sign up yesterday. It takes minutes and is as simple as setting up an account and entering your login and password for each bank account that you have. You could do this on your lunch break. Think of it as the new Mint.com (same back end), but geared toward Millennials on the front-end. What’s the point? Well, as they say, knowledge is power and Level is geared to giving you exactly the info that you NEED to know – taking budgeting out of the equation. Level Money provides you with a clear picture of your finances. In the end you are left with your spendable – or safe to spend – number for the day, week and month. It really helps give you control throughout the month to know where you stand. Check out Level Money!