You know more than anyone that having kids makes a busy life even busier.
Pre-baby, you were able to eat what you wanted, sleep when you wanted and spend wherever you wanted.
Now you’re managing bottles and diapers, snacks and activities, and wrangling a squirmy tot into pajamas before collapsing on the couch after the sun has set. What was even on your own to-do list today?
Keeping your family’s expenses under control is probably at the top of the list, but it can be hard to check off those tasks when there’s so much going on in your life (and so many things to pay for!). How are you feeling financially? Do you feel confident in your ability to take on more expenses as your kids grow?
Here’s a tip: Start slowly, and don’t get overwhelmed. This seven-day money challenge breaks up important steps to financial relief into a single task each day. Go ahead and get started before your baby wakes up from his nap!
Day 1: Save An Extra $40K For Your Kid’s College Fund
College is expensive. Period. Between tuition, dorm fees and books, a five-figure yearly payment can be the best case scenario.
And the college-debt crisis is deterring some kids from even applying to schools in the first place. If this is something you can’t imagine, starting to save while your kids are young is super important.
Here’s a secret: Save money for your kid’s education tax-free. With an app called U-Nest, you can take advantage of this strategy, which, by the time your kid is ready for college, could mean $40,000 more than you would save in a regular savings account.
New to all this? U-Nest will hold your hand through the whole thing. It makes it super easy to get started saving as little as $25 a month in one of its tax-free investing accounts. (You might’ve heard of these: 529 plans.)
When saving $40,000 is this easy, why wouldn’t you do it? It takes five minutes to download the U-Nest app and create an account.
Day 2: Leave Your Family $1 Million
If something happened and you were no longer here, how would your family manage without your income?
It’s not a fun thought to have, but it’s an important one if you have children who depend on you. Monthly bills, mortgage payments, daycare and eventually college tuition … all of these could be in jeopardy. Which is why today is the day you should start planning for the unexpected and protect your family with a term life insurance policy.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes — and you could leave your family up to $1 million with a company called Bestow.
Rates start at just $8 a month. The peace of mind 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 or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
Day 3: Invest Pennies in The Stock Market
Instead of using your spare change in questionably genius art projects, consider using some of those coins to start an investment account for your little one.
A few cents may not seem like it’ll make a big impact on your finances, but hear us out! The leftover change from your weekly grocery haul could turn into $1,000 if put in the right place.
That’s what happened when Penny Hoarder reader Jeremy Kolodziej opened an investment account with Acorns. The app’s round-up feature bumps each of your purchases up to the nearest dollar and puts the spare change into the stock market, which helped him mindlessly save $1,076 in about 20 months.
“It’s a virtual coin jar,” he says. “You don’t even think about it.” He used the spare change to pay for two vacations.
Plus, Acorns invested the money for him, allowing him to grow his savings — without studying stock prices or managing trades.
Think of it as a lesson in financial literacy for your kids. Explain what you’re doing and how their money will grow with them. Eventually, they can take more ownership of the process, and when they’re old enough, they’ll have a nice little savings to put toward something of their own.
The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
Day 4: Make Sure You Have the Right Car Insurance
Today your challenge is to find a better deal on car insurance than the one you have now. Chances are, you could be paying less each month, but it’s been easier to just let the insurance company take an automatic withdrawal on the first of the month.
You should be shopping around for new quotes every six months or so to save money — but who has time for that? Not you.
But a company called The Zebra will do all the heavy lifting to compare car insurance prices for you in a matter of minutes.
Take Lourdes Robles-Velazquez, for example. The single mom lives on a tight budget. She was paying $205 a month to insure two Toyota Priuses — hers and her daughter’s. By comparing prices, she knocked $80 off her monthly car insurance bill. That’s nearly $1,000 in savings per year.
Wondering how much you could save? Head over to The Zebra for a free quote. It only takes two minutes.
Day 5: Check in With Your Budget
We’re five days into your challenge, and it’s time to take on a heavy-hitter: your total monthly expenses.
Raising a kid is expensive, and it will only become even more so, which is why it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on your spending each month. After-school activities and clothes in the next size up will be a hit to your budget — but don’t let them wreck it!
Keep tabs on these new expenses as they pop up, so you can keep your budget updated accordingly. Have you set up a realistic budget? We like the 50/20/30 budgeting method. It’s super simple:
- 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 all the fun stuff like going to the movies, buying materials for an art project and maybe even treating your kids (and yourself) to some ice cream.
Use this budgeting method to keep yourself accountable and on track to hitting your financial goals.
Day 6: Don’t Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month
None of it. Does this seem like a trick? It’s not.
A majority of Americans have some sort of debt and if yours is credit card debt, your credit card company is making tons of money off of you with those insane interest rates. The only way to avoid them is to pay off your bill 100%, which might not be possible for you right now.
A company called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona matches you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 3.84% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.
Day 7: Consider What a New Career Could Do For Your Family
Your one-week challenge is almost complete! Today, ask yourself if your income is enough to cover your expenses and ensure your family is living comfortably.
If it’s not, busy parents like you can earn up to $60 an hour working remotely. Would making $50,000 a year improve your life?
Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and business owner, will teach you how to become a virtual bookkeeper through his online course, Bookkeeper Launch.
And no, you don’t have to be a CPA to be successful in this business. In fact, all you really need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems.
It’s helped thousands of people launch their own mini-businesses, including Daniel Honan, a military veteran and former painter who’s in his early 30s. He never considered starting his own company, but he signed up for Bookkeeper Launch, and now he’s making $50,000 a year keeping track of business expenses for his 10 clients.
It only took him three months to get started, taking one class a week. If you’re curious, you can sign up to take the first class free by submitting your email address here.
This story originally ran on The Penny Hoarder.