How to Use Your Money to Make You More

I’ve said to myself that I’ve got to get that money out from under the mattress, out of a stagnant savings account, out of an ill-run retirement account. There are better options to make your money work.

That includes the big stuff — like putting money into a business and earning more in return, or buying real estate and renting or selling it for profit. Also saving up for retirement helps.

I could put 4% of every paycheck in my bank each year and have around, $100,000 saved by the time I retire. That sounds fine, but it won’t last long.

Instead, stick that same money into a retirement account, and it grows to, say, a cool million dollars that’ll get you through a couple decades of retirement. That’s making your money work for you.

Here are a few tools that helped me be a tough boss and ensure my money’s hard at work.

1. Check in on 401(k)

Got a 401(k)? You’re on the right track. Now, just need to make sure it’s doing what you need it to. However, tapping into that account and deciphering the information can prove to be a difficult task.

There’s a robo-advisor for that called Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that works well to optimize and monitor my 401(k).

By Letting Blooom know my target retirement age; it can help by investing more or less aggressively.

2. Investing for Beginners

Outside my retirement plan, what am I doing to grow my money?

Investing in the stock market can be a smart way to make your money work, but it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.

Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee (the first month is free).

Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors, while letting you choose where to put the money money. But it leaves out the complicated investment terms. Bonus: Right now, Stash will give you an extra $5 to get started. Download the Stash smartphone app and create an account with the same address. Within two days, the $5 bonus will reach the account.

3. Open a High-Yield Checking Account

I’m not like a lot of people, so my paycheck(s) go into a single bank account. It’s probably a checking account, but what if you are maybe a savvy saver and want to stick some of each check into a savings account.

That comes with a problem. A lot of bank accounts — even savings accounts — leave your money to do diddly squat while it’s there.

If you want your money to work for you, stick it into an account that pays a high interest rate.

A good one to start with is Summit checking account. Putting a portion of your check in here can act as savings for travel and emergencies.

Here’s why I prefer it to a traditional checking or savings account:

  • It’s online only, so I don’t have to leave my home to handle finances.
  • It offers 1% APY on a balance of $2,500 or more. If my balance is less, it offers 0.25% APY. That’s more than the average savings account interest rate of 0.06%.
  • It’s free — no mandatory monthly minimums or fees.
  • It comes with a debit card, and I can use any ATM in the world for free.
  • Plus, 10% of the company’s revenue goes to charity, so I can feel like a charitable person!

4. Get Money Back for All Purchases

Regardless of how frugal I could be, I still have to spend money on the regular to get by. Like shopping for groceries — and other essentials, like wine, fresh clothes and that new Bestseller everyone’s been talking about.

I can make the most of these purchases by earning money back every time I shop.

These cash-back sites and apps will help you get started:

  • Ebates: This platform has everything — from rebates to deals to promo codes to discounts. It’s always worth checking before venturing out (or online) for a shopping trip.
  • Ibotta: This gem helps save big on groceries, booze and more just by snapping a photo of the receipt after you shop.
  • Paribus: This tool is too easy to ignore. It scans your emails for online-shopping receipts, then keeps an eye on the items you bought from participating retailers. If it finds a lower price, it helps you get reimbursed for the difference. It can also help you get a shipping refund if something doesn’t appear on time.
  • MyPoints: Shopping through the online MyPoints portal earns you points with each purchase, which you can cash in for gift cards to major retailers like Amazon and Walmart.