Like most folks, I miss hanging out with my friends, I miss going to restaurants and parties and festivals, I miss traveling. Oh GOD how I miss traveling. Never have I been so bored in all my life. But also, never have I spent so little on dining out, traveling, or getting pretty-fied. Without the drinks with friends, brunches, coworker lunches, plane tickets, hotel costs, getting my lashes, nails, hair, and brows done…I am saving a TON!
Realizing how much money I wasn’t spending actually prompted me to take this time to step up my financial game! I’ve definitely found myself being far more disciplined and organized with my spending, focused on building my credit, and even investing!
1. Watching my spending/budgeting
Late last year, I was introduced to You Need A Budget. Actually, full disclosure, I was introduced to it years ago but brushed it off cuz “duh, everyone needs a budget. Thanks Captain Obvious, I have a budget!” but one day I stumbled upon a post that raved about the app and so I figured I’d give it a shot.
Guys. I am completely and utterly in love with this app. So much so that it is one of the MOST USED app on my cell phone. I interact with it pretty much every day.
Here’s what I love about @YNAB:
- It’s a complete mindset shift in budgeting: you only “budget” money you actually have
- You allocate ALL of your money to SOMETHING. Even if that something is saving up for a new house. Every dollar gets a job
- It really shows you that spending $20 dollars on that dinner means you can’t spend that $20 on that make-up you wanted from Ulta. I mean, we wall know that theoretically but the concept clicks so well using this app because you literally end up having to move money from one bucket to another when you overspend.
I’ve been trying to become more financially disciplined for decades. This app is what finally did it for me. To be completely candid, the app took a little bit of time and effort to understand up front and a lot of getting used to because, as I said, it’s a mindset shift from the way we’ve always been taught to budget. But I watched some of their Youtube videos, sat in on some live workshops and stuck with it and now I’m hooked. I’m a huge fan. I love it so much I paid for my best friend’s membership for 1 year!
You can sign up for a free 34 day trial of YNAB right here. If you sign up, you get a free month and so do I! It’s $11.99/month or $84/year if you decide to stick with it. In my opinion, it’s totally worth it.
2. Binge Watching My Credit Score
Listen, people are looking for something to binge watch on television and I’m over here binge watching my credit score like its the most entertaining thing I have ever seen.
I use MyFico to track and monitor my credit score from all three credit bureaus. I love love love to get notifications that my score has changed. It’s like seeing the previews for the next episode of a dramatic show. I “run” to open the app to see what’s happened now, did it go up or did it go down or…plot twist, no change!
A MyFico subscription will also give you an updated credit report every three months so you can see exactly what the credit bureaus have in your file. I typically use that to determine if I need to dispute anything or write a letter asking to remove negative items or if something is going to fall off.
Note, you can get your free government mandated credit report once per year from www.annualcreditreport.com. There is no sign-up or subscription required for this, it is the ONLY website mandated by the US Government to provide us with our credit report for free every year.
What I enjoy about having a MyFico subscription is that:
- It runs simulations on your score based on your last credit report telling you what your score may do if you pay down a certain amount of your debt over a certain period of time. You can move the slider back and forth to see how it changes your score.
- It notifies you if your personal data is found on the dark web. Sounds scary and it sort of is. It means a hacker has your data and may be using it for nefarious reasons.
- It tells you what rates you’re likely to get on car loans, personal loans, credit cards, or mortgages based on your credit score
You can sign up for a MyFico subscription here (and you can cancel it at any time).
3. Dabbling in Investing A Lil Bit
I’ve always wanted to be an investor but somehow I was under the impression that investors are folks that have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to “gamble with” and I am FAR from that.
Then I discovered Robinhood. A no fee investment app that’s great for newbie investors with small amounts of money to invest. They even let you buy fractions of shares. Ever looked at the price of Amazon stock and been like “eh I ain’t got it?” well, do you have enough for half a share? Cuz you can buy that using Robinhood.
I decided I could set aside $500 to invest in some airline and restaurant stocks while they were low, because I felt like, within 2-3 years, they’d be making a comeback. I think I invested this money a month ago, as of today, that $500 is worth $546. Not a great return…YET! But also, I have more than I had before.
I’m planning to start putting about $100 per month into this account to invest in stocks and start learning to become a truly savvy investor. They do provide loads of details and there are a WEALTH of tutorials on the Youtubes about how to use Robinhood.
There is no cost to sign up for Robinhood and you’ll get a free stock share for signing up as well! You can sign up right here.
So that’s what I’ve been doing mostly and I have to say, just in the last 4 months in quarantine, I feel like I’m leaps and bounds from where I was financially before this year even started. At least something good is coming from being stuck in the house EVERY.DAMN.DAY.
What financial habits have you improved on during this time?
Also, before I forget to mention it, this blog post does contain affiliate links, which means if you sign up for anything I’ve recommended, I get a small bonus for referring you. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, it’s the company’s way of saying “thanks for talking us up!” I also want to assure you that I have actually used everything listed in this blog posted and loved it, so if you sign up for any of these it’s a win for both of us 😉