How do you know if your money’s working for you?
Most people assume success is all about the number of zeros in your paycheck. But real money wins aren’t about those 6-figure goals. No matter how much you have, you worked hard for that dough – is it returning your efforts?
We love a good list, so today we brought you the 10 signs your money is working for you. We also included tips like: how to invest with no money, which credit card to choose, and how to pay off debt faster.
This is the mother of all checklists, created to keep you (and your wallet) happy.
👀 6min read
Credit cards get a bad rep. But used wisely, they’re excellent money-making tools.
Instead of solely using a debit card, use your credit card to:
The caveat? Always pay your balance IN FULL and ON TIME. Set up automatic payments or think of your credit card as a debit card – so you don’t go overboard.
Want to learn exactly how you can make your credit card work for you?
We created a money module that covers all sorts of credit card FAQs, like types, perks, and how to pay off debt. The best part? It’s all included with your Penny membership.
Learn more about Penny’s courses here.
Speaking of perks! Credit cards with extra perks are a great way to ensure your money is working for you. It’s the next best thing after learning how to invest with no money. (More on this later).
If you own a “retail” credit card, or one with zero perks, consider switching it to a better one. We love shopping as much as you do, but most retail stores have some of the worst points-to-dollar ratios, and awfully high interest. And the zero perks card? Well. Perks.
Get a trusty cash back, points, or air miles card with competitive rates.
You’ll get more “bang for your buck”. And, depending on the card, you’ll have the opportunity to exchange it for a gift card to your favorite store anyway – so it’s a win-win.
…Instead of a regular checking or savings account.
A high-yield savings account (or high-interest savings account) is exactly what it sounds like:
A savings account where you get a higher (read: better) interest rate – and therefore, higher yield or returns.
For credit cards, you want a LOW interest rate. Otherwise, missed payment + high interest rate = debt snowball. (No, thanks.)
But when you get to benefit from it, like a high-yield savings account or investing? Yes, you want a HIGH interest rate. This creates a savings snowball; aka, your money is growing for you.
In addition to helping your money work for you (since you literally get free money from the interest you're earning), a high-yield savings account also keeps your money safe from inflation. What we care about most: that the bank is FDIC insured so your money is protected. There are many. Pick what feels good.
This is Step 1 in what we like to call “Future You Goals” – aka, your retirement accounts.
If you have a 401k, IRA, or 403b, then you are already one step further ahead in your financial planning than most.
If you don’t have one yet?
Talk to your employer about setting up a 401k or 403b for yourself. Be sure to ask if your company will match your 401k contributions. (It’s literally free money.)
If you’re self-employed or have extra room to contribute, open an IRA. Your future self will thank you.
Read more about 401k vs. IRA (and WTF it all means) in this blog post.
If Step 1 for retirement is to open (and contribute to) a 401k, IRA, or 403b account – the next must do is to ensure your money is INVESTED.
The easiest way to do that is to check your account statement directly.
If you’re not investing, your retirement account is basically a glorified, tax-friendly savings account. That’s cool. But not the nest egg you need to retire comfortably.
In addition to the potential tax breaks, this is also a fantastic way to learn how to invest when you have no money. You have to put cash aside for Future You anyway. Might as well make it worth it!
Click here to watch an IGTV where we walk you through this.
Remember those Penny courses? We show you exactly how to check if you’re invested (and how to do it if you’re not). Get started here.
When it comes to minimum payments for your student loan or personal loan, it’s important to pay a little bit more than what your “actual” minimum. Why? Because it’s worth it.
Chances are, most of your minimum payments cover only the interest on your loan (not the principal, aka. the actual debt you owe). If you can afford to pay even $50 more, it will make a huge impact on how much (and how long) it’ll take you to pay off your debt.
Want to confirm how much faster you could pay off your loans if you add $50 to your minimum payment?
Take Penny’s money quiz here. (Did we mention it’s free?)
Missed and late payments are 2 of the biggest factors that impact your credit score. And they’re one of the most easily avoided – with auto-pay. Plus, some loans may give you perks (like better rates) if you sign up for automatic payments.
It’s a great idea to include your credit card, phone bills, and other recurring charges on automatic as well.
But don’t leave it out of sight, out of mind!
Set a date with your money once a month. Double-check all your payments and money moves are good. Move things around if needed. And rest easy knowing your money is working for you, the way it should be. Ahhh, bliss.
Invest for your age. If you’re starting at 32, aim to have 32% of bonds in your investment portfolio. If you’re starting at 20, aim for 20%. This is especially true for your retirement accounts (401k, IRA, etc.)
Why? Risk and Diversity.
Investments are an excellent way to make your money work for you. But, there’s always some risk involved. The best way to protect your money (while making more) is to diversify your investment portfolio.
Diversifying means NOT putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, choose different baskets that will give you different benefits and returns.
Bonds are one of those baskets – the low risk, steady type. So, increasing your bonds as you get older is a savvy strategy for healthy retirement.
An HSA is a Health Savings Account. Set up an HSA if you have lots of medical expenses or if your company offers one.
It’s similar to retirement accounts. With an HSA, you can:
If you have a compatible health insurance plan, this is an excellent way to save money – and save on eligible health expenses. Like, sunscreen.
PS: If you don’t have a 401k or IRA yet, start there! Generally, it’s better to max out your 401k first (especially if you get an employer’s match) then look into the HSA in more detail.
For any extra dough you have above and beyond:
…Get it invested in the stock market or real estate or another endeavor!
Investing is truly the easiest way to make your money work for you. It’s easy to tailor it for your preferences and financial goals. You can go hands-on with a stock-picking approach. Or more hands-off, with a robo-advisor or fund manager.
How to invest with no money?
Start by investing the money in your retirement account. (Bonus: it can be tax-free)
If you don’t have one yet: open one!
You can start investing with as little as $10 today. (Yes, seriously.)
When you make your money work for you, you can spend confidently on all the $10 Starbucks lattes your heart desires – because you know the value of that same $10 can be doubled with investing and smart money moves.
You better give yourself a giant-a** pat on the back often, because YOU EARNED IT! And that’s the confident, money-making energy we’re here for. Cheers to you!
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