You’ve done it. You’ve built up a little cushion in your bank account — $1,000! It feels good. Those days of checking your account balance in a panic are behind you.
Congrats! Now it’s time to think about some longer-term goals. What do you want to accomplish next with your money? Do you need to save more? Do you want to buy a home someday? Invest?
What’s the next step you should take? What are some specific things you can do to take your finances to the next level?
1. Invest in Real Estate (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire)
The stock market can be a scary place. Stock prices shoot up and down like a roller coaster ride, and who knows when the whole thing might crash?
It would be nice to diversify and invest some of your money in real estate, but don’t you have to be wealthy to do that?
Now you can invest like the 1% does, and all you need to get started is $500. A company called DiversyFund will invest your money in commercial real estate — specifically, in apartment complexes that it owns — and you only need $500.
Real estate can potentially earn you more money than the stock market. Over the long term, investing in the stock market will earn you an average annual return of 7%, adjusted for inflation, according to a number of studies. DiversyFund can’t guarantee how its investments will perform in the future — no one can — but historically, it has earned an annual return of 17% to 18%.
So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. All you need to get started is $500.
2. Take Money Out of Your Checking Account
Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash?
Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 10% back every time you swipe. How much does your current bank offer you?
Need to buy groceries? Extra cash.
Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Even more extra cash.
You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process? Do yourself a favor and deposit $100 into an Aspiration account today so you can start taking advantage.
To get started, enter your email address here, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
3. Spend $5 to Own a Piece of Amazon, Google or Other Companies
Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company.
But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.
That’s why a lot of people use the app Stash. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies for as little as $1.
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google or Apple, for as little as $1. The best part? When these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.
It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.
4. Find Out if You’re Overpaying
Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert any time you’re shopping on Walmart and are about to get ripped off?
That’s exactly what a free service called Capital One Shopping does. (No need to be a Capital One customer to use it!)
Capital One Shopping’s free alerts can be added to your browser. Before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Amazon, Target, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. It will also show you coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even let you see the item’s price history.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV. You’re ready to check out, and you assume you’re getting the best price. Here’s when Capital One Shopping will pop up and let you know if you’re about to overpay. It will even automatically apply any known coupon codes to your order.
So far, Capital One Shopping has saved users more than $70 million.
You can get started with Capital One Shopping in just a few minutes to see if you’re overpaying online.
5. Cancel Your Car Insurance
If you need to free up some extra room in your budget, one of the easiest places to start is to cut back on your monthly bills — like your current car insurance.
In most places, it’s straight up illegal not to have it, so you’ve probably accepted that you’re going to pay through the nose for it. But you don’t have to.
A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826/year.
All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search dozens of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. Best yet: This is totally free.
If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.