I'll be honest: It took me a long time to start caring about my money. My priorities right after graduating from college were much more focused on finding a job and paying rent for my New York City apartment, and not as much on starting a savings account or bothering to look at my credit score. Then when I did eventually come around to prioritizing my financial health, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of new information out there. Money was super scary to me at the time, and when I took a good look at the amount of student debt I owed compared to how much money was currently sitting in my checking account (spoiler: next to nothing), I worried I'd somehow missed my chance to set myself up for financial success.
I know firsthand how intimidating personal finances can feel when you're first learning how to manage them for yourself, which is why I'm pumped that Bustle and Clarity Money have teamed up to outline a few simple things you can do both on the Clarity Money app and on your own that'll help you take control of your finances, maybe even in less time than it takes you to read this article.
Save Money By Cancelling Unwanted Subscriptions
This story is embarrassing in two ways: First off, this spring I finally sat down and studied a couple of recent credit card statements, and I found out that I was still spending about $27 per month on subscriptions I wasn't using anymore. That's over $300 per year! Second, one of those subscriptions was for an unlimited tanning package I hadn't used since college. I know, I know — there's a lot wrong with that sentence which I can unpack later, but luckily your journey to cancelling unwanted recurring expenses won't have to be as time-consuming as mine. If you have the free Clarity Money app, once you've linked your spending accounts the app can automatically detect what subscriptions you’re paying for and help you cancel them with just a few taps.
Create A Budget With A Goal In Mind
You've probably heard people talk about the many reasons why having a budget is important. I've heard those reasons, too! But still, it took me years to find my motivation for sticking to a specific money plan of my own.
Personally, I was motivated by wanting to pay off about $1,200 worth of credit card debt I'd accumulated over the 2017 holiday season. Mapping out how quickly I could have my entire balance paid off inspired me to sit down at the beginning of each pay period and assign myself allowances for groceries, transportation, living expenses, and nights out with friends or my partner. Following these strict guidelines I'd set for myself helped me pay off my credit card in just under three months. I'm not saying this is the sure-fire method that'll work for you, but I can promise that sticking to my daily budgets felt much more doable (...and kind of exciting?) with a separate goal in mind.
Keep Yourself Honest By Tracking Your Expenses
Trust me: Once I started taking a serious look at my daily spending habits, I quickly found out that there were some pretty glaring reasons why I always seemed to be broke at the end of a pay period. For me, when I played around in the Clarity Money app, I noticed that I'd already spent close to $40 on cabs, and the month wasn't even halfway over! Once you link your accounts, you'll also be able to see your own spending breakdown by category, timeframe, and by recent transactions.
Take The Stress Out Of Saving By Automating It
When I first graduated from college, I wasn't saving anything, but looking back I really wish I'd known about tools that could help me get started with saving sooner by contributing even a few bucks a month into a high-yield savings account. Though that wasn't the case for me, I did finally feel like I was earning enough money to start a savings account when I was 26 and landed a job that paid enough to save me from living paycheck to paycheck.
No matter what your current savings situation looks like, chances are good that you'd benefit from Clarity Money’s easy savings feature that lets you pick a recurring transfer amount and frequency so you can save without even thinking about it. Plus, the online savings account available in the app earns a competitive interest rate, and who doesn't love that?
Look At Your Credit Score
Seriously. Just look at it. As someone who went the first 27 years of their life without bothering to check my credit score for myself, I'm so glad I finally mustered up the courage to take a glance at it, since it motivated me to make decisions that would increase my score.
If you're not familiar with credit scores (no shame!), an easy way to think of it is as a number that provides a quick summary of your credit risk to potential credit lenders. Having a high score is important, and according to FICO® — a company that provides credit scoring services — people with high FICO® scores tend to have a few financial habits in common. In addition to making their monthly payments on time and establishing a long credit history, these people also tend to maintain low credit card balances, and may only have a limited number of credit card accounts. Keeping these pointers in mind, I prioritized paying down my credit card and avoided opening any new lines of credit during that time, and saw my credit score rise more than 40 points over the course of a few months.
With a lot of time and effort, I sorted through my financial goals and set myself on a smarter path, but looking back I wish I'd known about helpful tools like Clarity Money that help make it easier to take control of your finances. The free app is available on the App Store, Google Play Store, and on the web, and the personalized insights it offers can empower you to confidently take your financial future into your own hands.
This post is sponsored by Clarity Money.