If you get a biweekly paycheck more than $1,500, you’re probably feelin‘ pretty good.
Uncle Sam took his taxes out, you’ve funneled some money into your retirement fund, and now you’ve got an extra $1,500 sitting in your checking account.
So, now what?
After you’ve taken care of the bills, take these simple steps to level up before next payday.
1. Get Every Single Penny From Your Employer
If your employer offers a 401(k) plan as part of its benefits package and you’re not fully taking advantage of the matching contribution, now’s the time.
“Take advantage of your full company match,” says Jeff Dixson, a financial adviser in Vancouver, Washington, who hosts a radio show called “The Retirement Coach.”
“If they match 3%, contribute 3%. If they match 6%, try to get to 6%. That’s free money. There’s nowhere else you’re going to get free money.”
If you’re already at the full company match, consider increasing your contributions even more, if you can afford it. Try raising it by at least 1%.
If your employer doesn’t have a 401(k) package, you should strongly consider stashing retirement savings in a tax-free IRA. Contribute to it routinely and automatically, if you can.
2. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bills This Month
You can be earning a healthy paycheck, but that credit card debt just won’t go away. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape… It starts taking a toll.
And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.99% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could help you pay off your debt years faster.
3. Claim up to $500 in Free Stock
Although your paychecks are over $1,500, you might still feel like you don’t have enough money to start investing. But guess what? You really don’t need that much — and you can even get free stocks (worth up to $500) if you know what you’re doing.
Whether you’ve got $5, $100 or $800 to spare, you can start investing with Robinhood.
You’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits. Plus, it’s super easy to use.
What’s best? When you download the app and fund your account (it takes no more than a few minutes), Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $5 to $500 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.
4. Get Up to $1 Million in Life Insurance; Rates Start at $5/Month
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your paychecks after you’re gone? How they’ll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Now that you’ve got a steady income, it’s a good time to start planning for the future by securing a life insurance policy.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes — and you could leave your family $1 million with a company called Bestow.
Rates start at just $5 a month, and you can change or cancel your plan at any time. Plus, the security of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam, pushy sales calls or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
5. Find Hidden Errors on Your Credit Report
When you’re making a steady paycheck, you might find you start thinking about some bigger goals, like buying a new car or even a new home. But did you know your credit score — not your paycheck — can play a big role in whether or not you’ll be able to do that?
And if you have an error on your credit report (one out of five reports do), that could stand in your way.
Thankfully, a website called Credit Sesame will help you detect any errors — for free. If you find any, it will even help you dispute them.
Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report this way. Using Credit Sesame, she was able to fix the mistake (which wasn’t her fault) and take additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.*
Now she and her husband feel like they’re in a better position for their biggest goal — purchasing a house.
Want to check for yourself? It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
6. Plan to Stop Breaking Even
There was probably one point in your life you never imagined getting a steady $1,500 paycheck. Now you’re here, and it feels great.
But as you make more and more money, you might find your spending habits (and needs) change, too. No matter how much you make, it’s easy to get in the rut of just breaking even each month. That makes it difficult to accomplish any real long-term financial goals — buying a home, paying off debt, investing your money or saving for retirement.
That’s where a budget can help. Wait! Before you keep scrolling because budgeting sucks, we suggest giving the 50/20/30 budgeting method a try. Here’s what it looks like:
- 50% of your monthly income goes toward living expenses. These include rent, mortgage, utilities, groceries, car payments, gas and loan payments.
- 20% of your monthly income goes toward money goals, which can include investments, savings and debt-reduction payments above the minimum amount.
- 30% of your monthly income goes toward personal spending. That’s everything else.
By using this simple framework, you can better track where your paycheck goes and tackle some of your big life goals.
*Like Buitureria, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at Codetic.