At this point, most of us are living within the confines of our home, only venturing out for groceries or exercise.
And that’s what we should be doing — what we need to be doing — to flatten this COVID-19 curve. But we get it: We feel a bit stir-crazy, anxious and helpless, too.
That’s why we created a quick 24-minute money challenge. This is perfect for those of us stuck at home and worried about the uncertain state of our country and our own personal finances. It’s a great way to spend 24 minutes today, and you’ll feel more productive for it.
Ready? Set the timer!
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1. Stop Overpaying on Your Monthly Bills (2 Minutes)
Your monthly bills are non-negotiables, right? They’re just something you’re stuck paying.
The truth is, you can probably find better deals on a number of your monthly bills, freeing up room in your budget for other necessities during this trying time.
The easiest one to start with? Car insurance. Experts suggest shopping your options every six months or so, but let’s be real — when’s the last time any of us have done that?
But a free website called The Zebra will do the shopping for you — in just two minutes.
All you have to do is enter basic information about your car and driving history, then The Zebra compares prices from more than 100 companies to find you the best price.
In fact, The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year. If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.
After you take two minutes to do this, take a look at some of your other monthly bills, like your cell phone (check out discount providers) and home insurance (compare rates).
2. Ask This Website to Take Care of Your Credit Card Bill (2 Minutes)
If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape…
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 right now is the perfect time to take action. 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.
AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call your bank, either — you can do this from your couch. 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. Grab Yourself a $5 Amazon Gift Card After You Take 5 Surveys (10 Minutes)
Since we’re trying to leave the house as little as possible, many of us will likely notice an uptick in our Amazon orders. That’s good — we’re doing this whole social distancing thing correctly — but our wallets might not be too thrilled.
If you want to help offset the costs, snag yourself a free $5 Amazon gift card with MyPoints.
MyPoints is a research company that’ll pay you to answer questions about different products and services you use. In return, it’ll give you free gift cards. You can even do this from your phone.
To date, MyPoints has paid people more than $236 million in gift cards.
To get your $5 Amazon gift card, just sign up and complete your first five surveys. Then, next time you’re posted up on the couch watching Netflix, take a few more surveys and keep earning.
4. Finally Check Life Insurance Off Your Perpetual To-Do List (5 Minutes)
For many of us, getting life insurance is something we know we need to do. After all, you’ve probably wondered how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone. How will they pay the bills? Send the kids through school?
Now that life’s slowed down a little, it’s time to finally check this off your to-do list.
With a company called Bestow, this shouldn’t take more than about five minutes, and rates start at $5 a month. You can cancel or change 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.
You’ll feel better once you can finally get this done.
5. Check Your Credit Report for Any Errors (3 Minutes)
At this point, you understand the importance of your credit score. It will help you make big purchases one day, like a house or a new car. But when’s the last time you checked in on your score?
You could have an error on it that’s unknowingly holding you back. (One out of five reports do, according to a study from the FTC.)
Now that you’ve got some extra time on your hands, take a look with a free website called Credit Sesame. It’ll show you your credit score and help you detect any errors. If you find one? Credit Sesame will even help you dispute it.
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 and take additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.*
Want to check for yourself? It only takes about three minutes to sign up and take a look.
6. Launch an Investing Portfolio With $5 (2 Minutes)
It’s no secret the market has had its fair shares of ups and (mostly) downs these past few weeks, but you shouldn’t panic. If you’ve got money you’ve invested, hold tight and ride it out. Over time, the market tends to go up.
If you haven’t started investing and have some money to spare, you can start small. Investing doesn’t require you throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, you can get started with as little as $5.
We like Stash, because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what you feel.
Plus, with Stash, you’re able to invest in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in funds you wouldn’t normally be able to afford (and with a little bit of a lower risk than a full share).
If you sign up now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you one month free and throw in a $25 bonus when you make your first investment. After your first free month, subscription plans start at $1 a month.*
* 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.
** The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash.
First for Women has partnered with The Penny Hoarder to bring you expert money saving tips like these.
Carson Kohler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s spent much of her time at home watching Netflix and coloring.