I’m less than a month away from my thirtieth birthday, and I definitely wish that someone had given me this list of things you need to do before you turn 30 when I was 20!
So if you’re a 20-something reading this, please take action on the items below, today if possible.
Building success habits like these will only pay off huge dividends in the years to come.
It’s foolish to go through life without an emergency fund.
You need at least 2-3 months’ worth of living expenses to cover you in the case of a rainy day.
When it comes to where you should store your emergency fund savings, we use and recommend CIT bank.
You can earn up to 1.85% with a high-yield digital money market account.
2. Keep tabs on your credit score.
Your ability to live the life you want — from renting an apartment to buying a home to getting a job — is driven to a large degree by your credit score.
By simply increasing your credit score a little bit, you can, for example, pay less in interest, which will grow your wealth in the long-term.
We’ve found that Credit Sesame is the best free website that can calculate and monitor your credit score.
3. Start investing, if only with $5.
Let’s say you’re 20 years old and invest $5 in the stock market today.
If you have an average of 10% growth per year (which is the average growth rate of the stock market for the past 100 years or so), that $5 will have turned into $364.45 in 45 years when you’re 65.
$100 will turn into $7,289.05.
$1,000 will turn into $72,890.48.
And if you’re lucky enough to have $10,000 laying around to invest, it will turn into $728,904.84.
So the next time you spend $5 on Starbucks, don’t see it as a $5 decision; see it as a $364.45 decision!
How to Start Investing
There are plenty of great places to open up a stock-investing account, but the one that’s getting us hot and bothered at the moment is Acorns.
And for a limited time, Acorns is giving a sweet $5 sign-up bonus to Money Done Right readers (click here).
Hands-Free Investing with Acorns
Acorns is great because it does all the work for you.
You tell it your age and financial goals, and it develops a custom portfolio for you based on empirical data, not the latest hot stock tip.
Get Free Money In Your Account
You also get free money deposited into your dividend stocks simply for shopping with brands through the Acorns app at no extra charge to you.
For example, last week I took an Uber, and I got $0.50 deposited into my Acorns account!There are a lot more other cool features, but for now, I suggest you download Acorns for yourself to see what it can do for you.
4. Budget, or at least know where your money’s going every month.
We all have blindspots in our cash flow, and it’s important to nip them in the bud now before they add up over the years.
(Remember, saving a measly $5 now could mean an extra $364.45 in retirement! Can you imagine how you can grow your money if you saved an extra $5 every month?)
We use the free app Personal Capital to track our monthly spending.
Your account balances are updated in real time!
We personally use it to track our wealth and love the easy-to-use interface.
5. Periodically go on a price shopping spree.
More often than not, we get used to monthly bills that we’ve been paying as long as we can remember.
However, you can save yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year by shopping around to make sure you’re paying as little as possible.
Thankfully, there are several websites that make such price shopping for these things easier than ever.
Check out our favorite tools for making sure you’re saving as much money as possible below.
Check for Cheaper Renters or Homeowners Insurance
One expense that slips by most people without being checked every now and then is homeowners or renters insurance.
See, the traditional insurance company model is getting more and more outdated with their high deductibles and premiums.
Take new insurance company Lemonade for example.
They take a simple flat fee, and everything else goes into a collective claims pool that they protect for their users in case they need to make a claim.
Since Lemonade doesn’t profit from the claims pool (like other, older insurance companies), leftover money is donated to charities that users choose when they sign up.
Lemonade’s self-stated goal is to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good.
They offer renters insurance for as low as $5 a month and homeowners insurance for as low as $25 a month.
Refinance Your Student Loans
I graduated college with over $35,000 of student loans, so this one hits home for me.
For the longest time, I was paying as much as 8.5% on several of my loans.
However, by refinancing my student loans, I was able to drop my average interest rate by over 4% and literally saved over $10,000 over the life of my loans.
SoFi, Earnest, LendKey, CitizensBank, CommonBond, and a few others are good companies to check out to refinance your student loans.
But the thing is that all the companies weigh different factors (income, credit score, employment, net worth, etc.) differently.
The best thing to do is to shop around.
There’s actually a free website that will compare rates at student loan refinancing companies for you so your credit score doesn’t get dinged over and over again by applying individually at each one.
Take Stock of Your Subscriptions
Literally billions of dollars a year are wasted on unused subscription payments.
You know about your Netflix subscription, but what about that $9.99 monthly charge to “that one thing you signed up for 6 years ago”?
Thankfully, there’s a free money-saving bot called Cushion that will go through all your subscriptions, let you know how much you are paying for each of them every month, and cancel them with a simple text message if you’d like.
And Cushion not only keeps track of your subscriptions, but it also negotiates your monthly bills such as cable and Internet so you keep more money in your pocket.
6. Make cash back apps a habit.
These days there are a ton of apps out there that give you cash back for doing simple tasks.
Our favorites are below.
Shopkick – Get Paid to Just Walk Into Stores
Have you heard of the new app Shopkick?
It literally pays you to walk into stores! You don’t even have to buy anything — you will get paid simply for entering stores!
Of course, you will earn more points for actually making a purchase, but even if you’re just window shopping, you can still earn points.
Ibotta – Cash Back at the Store
There’s a little-known app called Ibotta ($10 bonus if you click here) that literally gives you cash back on things you buy anyway, just for taking pictures of your shopping receipts!
And yes, they pay you cash through Paypal!
And oh yeah, if you sign up with Ibotta through our special $10 bonus link (click here), you’ll get a $10 bonus when you submit your first receipt!
Sweatcoin – Pays You to Walk
There’s a new app, Sweatcoin, that will pay you for every step you take.
And yes, they pay out in Paypal.
Nielsen Mobile – Pays You $50 a Year Just to Have Their App
There’s an app that will pay you just for having it on your phone.
It doesn’t get much more passive than that! You heard me right.
They will pay you $50 per year per device just for having your app on there!
Talk about the ultimate passive income opportunity!
GetUpside – Gives You Cash Back on Gas
GetUpside is a free app that gives you cash back for every gas station receipt you submit!
If you drive a lot (or even if you don’t), this can add up to a decent chunk of change!
7. Optimize your 401(k) plan.
If you’ve ever worked in corporate America, you probably have a 401(k) retirement plan through your current or former employer.
And while your 401(k) is generating passive income for you, it’s possible that it’s not optimized for the best performance.
Just improving your returns by 1% a year can make a huge difference.
Let’s say you have $50,000 in your 401(k), and it will earn you 6% over time.
Increase your returns so that you earn 7% a year will mean over $65,000 more in your 401(k) over 30 years’ time.
A properly-optimized 401(k) can generate for you additional tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over time.
That’s where Blooom comes in.
When you sign up for Blooom, your 401(k) will immediately be analyzed, and you will be shown what kind of hidden fees you’re currently paying in your 401(k).
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