Dear Penny: Can My Husband Stop His Brother From Stealing His Inheritance?

Dear Penny, My husband’s brother took their mother to his accountant to make sure her mutual funds, stocks and banking accounts were being taken care of and that nobody would be able to extort money from her. She is wealthy. The will stated everything was to be split equally, half and half.  She has two […]

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


6 Hidden Costs of Starting a New Business in 2021 + How to Reduce Them

If the upheaval of the past year has taught us anything, it's that there are no guarantees in business. But one hidden benefit of mass closures and unexpected downtime at home is the opportunity to reevaluate our careers. Many have taken this time to rethink what life and work really mean to them and decided to start their own businesses.

The thought of going out on your own may bring a mixture of fear and excitement. Maybe it's something you've been thinking about for a while, and now fate has forced your hand. But before you take that step, there are some hidden costs you may not have considered. It’s important to know your market and understand the costs you’re up against when starting your own business

Hidden costs for new businesses

Anyone who has ever worked long hours at a dead end job may have dreamed of being their own boss someday. Maybe you have a side hustle or a hobby you've wanted to expand into a business.

However, being your own boss is challenging, and it’s definitely not for everyone. The reality is that working for yourself often means working harder than you ever have before — not to mention barely breaking even for quite some time.

Costs like office space, equipment, and payroll are to be expected and may be easier to calculate. But, there are many expenses that might take you by surprise when you launch your startup. Everything from the hidden costs of website maintenance to acquiring the right kind of insurance can set you back if you don’t plan for them.

Before you take the leap, here are six hidden costs that you should know about, plus some tips on how to make them more manageable.

Startup funding

You might think that you can just start your business small and build upon it. But even a stellar business idea requires some capital to get it off the ground. Unfortunately, this is also one of the hardest parts of starting a company.

Some new business owners don’t understand the finances behind starting a business well enough to present their financial information to loan officers or potential investors. What’s more, women, persons of color, and other minorities underrepresented in the startup space face additional bias and challenges. For example, one study found that black business owners were 10% more likely to apply for startup assistance but 19% less likely to be approved.

Rather than trying to obtain a bank loan — or using your personal savings — consider crowdfunding or angel investors.

You could also look into small business grants, which don't need to be repaid.

This may be the nest egg you need to get your business off the ground in the event you are unable to acquire a loan or other funding source.

Startup fees

It would be a mistake to avoid the two crucial expenses for starting any business: hiring an accountant and a business lawyer. Regulations about licensing vary from state to state, as do tax filing deadlines and fees. These also vary by the type of business or service and corporate structure. You can cut some of these costs by only using a business lawyer and accountant for your initial consultation about corporate structure, tax obligations, and insurance requirements.

Budget management is also critical from day one. One of the first things you acquire for your business should be quality accounting software. Make sure your accounting tools come with crucial features such as robust small business accounting reports and accountant-friendly software to avoid any regulatory headaches or overlooked expenses on tax day.


Insurance is an expense you'd rather not need, but you'll be glad you have it when the unexpected happens. Plus, for some states and industries, it's a legal requirement. If you have any employees, you'll also need to consider workers compensation as well as health and life insurance.

Insurance is the one expense you can't put off, so it's best to shop around for the best rates and policies for your current situation. Consider only getting a liability insurance plan at first if that is feasible for you in terms of risk, and discuss your options with your provider.

You can always add coverage as your business grows, so it’s important to get flexible insurance plans.

Administrative costs

These are the little costs that you might have taken for granted when you worked for someone else, but they really add up if you aren't paying attention. Admin costs include big things like computers and software, in addition to little things like ink, paper, and other office supplies. If you're working from home, you will even have to consider the effect of running a home office on your electric bill.

If you meet certain requirements, you can deduct part of your rent or mortgage, phone, and utility bills for business use of your home.

Keep in mind that office supplies are less expensive when you buy them in bulk.

As for your tech solutions, consider the cost-benefit of leasing versus buying, outsourcing versus in-house, and SaaS or PaaS. These alternatives may come with upgrades and maintenance built into the contract.

Building your website

No matter what type of business you plan to launch, you're going to need a website. And one thing to beware of is that even "free" websites aren't really free. Hosting services that claim they are free will often make money by selling your data or forcing you to have ads on your site.

There's also a chance that you won't even own your domain or have the freedom to move your website later. When preparing to build your site, you'll need to consider the cost of registering your domain, designing the site itself, and finding a hosting provider.

Usually, the main expenses are domain registration and a reliable hosting provider. There are some trustworthy, inexpensive options out there, but be wary of hidden costs. According to Alex Williams of Hosting Data, you should be strategic about the hosting service you decide to use. This is because some hosting providers will try to up-sell, such as trying to get you to purchase add-ons that you could get for free simply by making clever use of your control panel.

“If your main goal is to save time without worrying about the cost, upsells won't bother you,” says Williams. “But for the budget conscious among us — keep a lookout for these features that improve upon your inexpensive plan – at a premium.”


Perhaps you think that telling your friends and family or posting on Facebook is enough to get your business going. While your mom and your next door neighbor might account for a few sales, it's not enough to keep you going for more than a few weeks. Social media is only as good as the effort — and sometimes, money — that you put into it.

You can save money on advertising by leveraging digital platforms and letting technology do the heavy lifting.

You can pay a small fee for targeted ads on most social media platforms, reach out to influencers with sway among your target demographic, or look into affiliate marketing.

The bottom line

Our goal is to help you avoid the pitfalls that can derail your new venture, and funding issues are one of the most significant challenges for new businesses. As you’re starting out, keep these practical tips in mind so you don’t overlook any critical costs that might bring your business planning to a halt.


Steps to Getting A Financial Advisor in your 20s

Getting a financial advisor in your 20s is a responsible thing to do. At the every least, it means that you are serious about your finances. Finding one in your local area is not hard, especially with SmartAsset free matching tool, which can match you up to 3 financial advisors in under 5 minutes. However, you must also remember that a quality financial advisor does not come free. So, before deciding whether getting a financial advisor in your 20s makes financial sense, you first have to decide the cost to see a financial advisor.

What can a financial advisor do for you?

A financial advisor can help you set financial goals, such as saving for a house, getting married, buying a car, or retirement. They can help you avoid making costly mistakes, protect your assets, grow your savings, make more money, and help you feel more in control of your finances. So to help you get started, here are some of the steps you need to take before hiring one.

Need help with your money? Find a financial advisor near you with SmartAsset’s free matching tool.

1. Financial advice cost

What is the cost to see a financial advisor? For a lot of us, when we hear “financial advisors,” we automatically think that they only work with wealthy people or people with substantial assets. But financial advisors work with people with different financial positions. Granted they are not cheap, but a fee-only advisor will only charge you by the hour at a reasonable price – as little as $75 an hour.

Indeed, a normal rate for a fee-only advisor can be anywhere from $75 an hour $150 per hour. So, if you’re seriously thinking about getting a financial advisor in your 20s, a fee-only advisor is strongly recommended.

Good financial advisors can help you with your finance and maximize your savings. Take some time to shop around and choose a financial advisor that meets your specific needs.

2. Where to get financial advice?

Choosing a financial advisor is much like choosing a lawyer or a tax accountant. The most important thing is to shop around. So where to find the best financial advisors?

Finding a financial advisor you can trust, however, can be difficult. Given that there is a lot of information out there, it can be hard to determine which one will work in your best interest. Luckily, SmartAsset’s free matching tool has done the heavy lifting for you. Each of the financial advisor there, you with up to 3 financial advisors in your local area in just under 5 minutes.

3. Check them out

Once you are matched with a financial advisor, the next step is to do your own background on them. Again, SmartAsset’s free matching tool has already done that for you. But it doesn’t hurt to do your own digging. After all, it’s your money that’s on the line. You can check to see if their license are current. Check where they have worked, their qualifications, and training. Do they belong in any professional organizations? Have they published any articles recently?

Related: 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring a Financial Advisor

4. Questions to ask your financial advisor

After you’re matched up with 3 financial advisors through SmartAsset’s free matching tool, the next step is to contact all three of them to interview them:

  • Experience: getting a financial advisor in your 20s means that you’re serious about your finances. So, you have to make sure you’re dealing with an experienced advisor — someone with experience on the kind of advice you’re seeking. For example, if you’re looking for advice on buying a house, they need to have experience on advising others on how to buy a house. So some good questions to ask are: Do you have the right experience to help me with my specific needs? Do you regularly advise people with the same situations? If not, you will need to find someone else.

5 Reasons You Need to Hire A Financial Consultant

  • Fees – as mentioned earlier, if you don’t have a lot of money and just started out, it’s best to work with a fee-only advisor. However, not all fee-only advisors are created equal; some charges more than others hourly. So a good question to ask is: how much will you charge me hourly?
  • Qualifications – asking whether they are qualified to advise is just important when considering getting a financial advisor in your 20s. So ask find about their educational background. Find out where they went to school, and what was their major. Are they also certified? Did they complete additional education? if so, in what field? Do they belong to any professional association? How often do they attend seminars, conferences in their field.
  • Their availability – Are they available when you need to consult with them? Do they respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner? Do they explain financial topics to you in an easy-to-understand language?

If you’re satisfied with the answers to all of your questions, then you will feel more confident working with a financial advisor.

In sum, the key to getting a financial advisor in your 20s is to do your research so you don’t end up paying money for the wrong advice. You can find financial advisors in your area through SmartAsset’s Free matching tool.

  • Find a financial advisor – Use SmartAsset’s free matching tool to find a financial advisor in your area in less than 5 minutes. With free tool, you will get matched up to 3 financial advisors. All you have to do is to answer a few questions. Get started now.
  • You can also ask your friends and family for recommendations.
  • Follow our tips to find the best financial advisor for your needs.

Articles related to “getting a financial advisor in your 20s:”

  • How to Choose A Financial Advisor
  • 5 Signs You Need A Financial Advisor
  • 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor

Thinking of getting financial advice in your 20s? Talk to the Right Financial Advisor.

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your saving goals and get your debt under control. Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post Steps to Getting A Financial Advisor in your 20s appeared first on GrowthRapidly.


25 Best Jobs for Introverts To Feel the Most Fulfilled

When navigating which career is right for you, finding something that aligns with your personality is no doubt a fine place to start. But if you fancy yourself as an introvert, you might want to avoid careers involving a lot of social interactions. Thankfully, there are many careers introverted people can excel at while still feeling comfortable.

Studies show that your personality has important effects on early career outcomes. Therefore, success does not depend on your extroversion, but on your ability to put your skills, experiences, and personality to work in your favor. So if you’re an introvert, knowing the best jobs for introverts is the first step to discovering what career suits you best. Keep reading to find out what are some of these jobs or jump to our infographic for some interview tips.

What Is an Introvert?

Introversion and extroversion are popular terms you might’ve seen if you’ve taken a personality test, and most people have some degree of both. Introverted people tend to be more reserved, usually prefer less stimulating environments, and enjoy time alone to recharge. Although not all introverts fit one standard definition, here are some common characteristics of introverts:

  • Quiet and reserved
  • Introspective
  • Feel tired from social interactions
  • Enjoy being alone
  • Self-aware
  • Have a small group of friends
  • Independent
  • May experience shyness and social anxiety

qualities of introverted people

Best Jobs for Introverts

What jobs are introverts good at and what are the highest paying jobs for introverts? We gathered data from Mint’s salary tool to discern just that, and to help these quiet but ambitious people find true job satisfaction. Get your resumes ready, introverts!

1. Accountant

If you like working with numbers and having the opportunity to work in almost any industry, becoming an accountant can be the career for you. As a stable and growing job field, accountants prepare and examine financial records and analyze any opportunities or risks. This is a job more often done on your own and with some one-on-one client meetings.

  • Average Salary: $66,500
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Certified Public Accountant license

2. Actuary

Do you love working with statistics, math, and financial theories? Becoming an actuary can be a great introverted job option. Actuaries determine the financial risks for certain outcomes and help businesses develop policies to minimize those risks. Since most of the work is done from a computer, this is a good career for introverts who like to spend time working on their own.

  • Average Salary: $113,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Casualty Actuarial Society certification
    • Society of Actuaries certification

3. Application Developer

Application developers design, create, and update programs and apps for devices. In this job you’re able to work for different industries and companies, full time or self-employed, and with the possibility of working remotely. If you want to bring ideas to life and help develop applications, this can be the job for you.

  • Average Salary: $79,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Google Developers Certification (recommended)
    • Apple Developers Certification (recommended)
    • Industry experience

4. Architect

Spending most of their time working independently, architects plan and design houses, office buildings, and other structures. If you are a creative that loves problem-solving, architecture might be just right for you. This job also won’t require much social interaction, other than meeting with clients and going to construction sites.

  • Average Salary: $76,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Master’s degree (recommended)
    • Paid internship (three years, generally)
    • State license

5. Archivist

People who are especially introverted could find working as an archivist a great opportunity to work mostly on their own. Archivists can work at universities, libraries, and research institutions overseeing and maintaining collections of historical items and artwork.

  • Average Salary: $49,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Master’s degree
    • Industry experience

6. Artist

With endless mediums to choose from, becoming an artist is a job for all personality types. Whether you want to become a textile artist, a painter, or a sculptor, this is a great career for creative-minded people who want to work at home or in a studio independently.

  • Average Salary: $32,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Industry experience

7. Content Manager

If working with clients to develop content, such as blog posts, videos, and interactives, and building a strategy for them to perform better sounds interesting, becoming a content manager might be the right career for you. Many content managers are able to work remotely as they oversee a company’s content creation and strategy, as well as manage writers.

  • Average Salary: $54,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Content management systems course (recommended)
    • SEO course (recommended)
    • Industry experience

8. Data Architect

Data architects manage and design data systems, as well as research new opportunities for data acquisition. If you enjoy working with data and technology, this is a challenging and rewarding job that won’t require a lot of social interactions and could be done from home.

  • Average Salary: $115,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Industry experience and certifications

9. Digital Marketer

One of the many jobs with work from home capability is digital marketing. If you love problem-solving and promoting products and services, becoming a digital marketer might be what you’re looking for. Digital marketers utilize technology to promote content, reach customers, and increase brand awareness.

  • Average Salary: $57,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Digital marketing course (recommended)
    • Google Analytics certification (recommended)
    • Industry experience

10. Editor

If you’re a language fanatic and like reading, you might find it fulfilling to become an editor. They work mostly alone with the option to work from home, reading and revising content to be published. Editors can span many media industries, including magazines, book publishing, and even company communications.

  • Average Salary: $57,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Industry experience

11. Executive Chef

If you’re a foodie at heart and love to please people with your cooking, you might have to look into becoming an executive chef. They manage the kitchen to ensure everything is prepared to the right standards, as well as train the staff and create menus.

  • Average Salary: $55,000
  • Requirements:
    • Culinary school (recommended)
    • Industry experience

12. Graphic Designer

Graphic designers use digital tools to create visuals that communicate ideas. From creating logos to app designs, this is the perfect job for those creative-minded introverts that love technology. Since many graphic design jobs are done from home, this is a very rewarding and flexible profession that’s great for introverted people.

  • Average Salary: $40,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Adobe Creative Suite courses (recommended)
    • Industry experience

13. Information Technology Manager

Information technology managers don’t need to be outgoing as long as they have a passion for technology and problem-solving. This is a fast-growing job, where you would fix software and hardware issues and provide upgrades, as well as work with the security of the company’s information systems.

  • Average Salary: $85,500
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • IT management certifications (recommended)
    • Industry experience

14. Landscape Designer

If you love the outdoors and want to flex your creativity, a career as a landscape designer combines both. They develop landscaping plans for parks and other outdoor spaces with features such as water fountains, ponds, walkways, and gardens.

  • Average Salary: $50,500
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Industry experience

15. Librarian

If your preferred workplace is a quiet one, becoming a librarian could be just what you’re looking for. Librarians help visitors find and check out books, prepare catalog books and periodicals, and possibly manage the library budget and oversee events.

  • Average Salary: $48,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Master’s degree
    • Teaching credential (for public school librarians)
    • Praxis II Library Media Specialist test (requirement varies by state)

16. Mechanic

If you enjoy working with your hands and fixing things, becoming a mechanic is a job that won’t require much social interaction since a big part of it is spent working on vehicles. Mechanics repair, inspect, and perform maintenance, as well as use tools and technologies to maintain and modify vehicles.

  • Average Salary: $45,500
  • Requirements:
    • Complete an automotive education program
    • Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification

17. Photographer

If you see the world in a creative way and like to capture moments, becoming a photographer is a great flexible job for introverts. With many genres to pick from, such as wedding, portrait, travel, and landscape photography, this job can lead to many different experiences and is a good way to put your creativity to work.

  • Average Salary: $30,000
  • Requirements:
    • Photography courses
    • Industry experience

18. Psychiatrist

If you’re interested in how the mind works and understanding the importance of mental health, becoming a psychiatrist might be right for an introvert. Psychiatrists diagnose, treat, and help prevent mental disorders, as well as prescribe medication and recommend hospitalization in some cases.

  • Average Salary: $190,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Medical school
    • State license
    • Certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
    • Residency (four years)

19. Research Scientist

If you’re fascinated by science and performing experiments, look into becoming a research scientist. Working in laboratories for the government, environmental organizations, and educational institutions, research scientists perform trials and experiments and can work in many different fields.

  • Average Salary: $66,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Master’s degree
    • Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) certification (recommended)
    • Industry experience

20. Social Media Manager

If you enjoy creating content for Instagram, Facebook, and other social media but don’t necessarily want to post about yourself, consider becoming a social media manager. They plan and create social media posts and marketing campaigns for clients, as well as analyze social media performance and engage with followers and customers.

  • Average Salary: $41,500
  • Requirements:
    • Social media experience
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Internship experience

21. Software Test Engineer

Another great career for techies is to become a software test engineer. They analyze software programs by creating and implementing methods of testing, and recommend improvements. There’s a variety of opportunities for this job since you can work for different companies and even as a contractor.

  • Average Salary: $70,500
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • ISTQB Foundation Level Certification (recommended)
    • Industry experience

22. Therapist

If you love helping people, becoming a therapist may be the path to take. Some common qualities of introverted people include empathy and the ability to listen, which are also characteristics of a good therapist. They listen to their patients’ challenges and help with strategies to improve their lives.

  • Average Salary: $82,030
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Master’s degree (recommended)

23. Translator

If you are fluent in more than one language and want to find a job that lets you work from home, a translator might be right for you. This is a flexible job since you would work translating and converting information into another language.

  • Average Salary: $40,500
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Industry experience and training

24. Veterinarian

Although you might have to interact with pet owners often, as a veterinarian you will spend most of your time caring for animals. So if you have a passion for animals and love to see them grow healthy, becoming a veterinarian might be a career that will make you happy and fulfilled.

  • Average Salary: $91,500
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Experience working with animals
    • Certification from an accredited veterinary program
    • North American Veterinary Licensing Examination
    • State license

25. Writer

Introverts can be great at expressing themselves in writing rather than verbally, which makes becoming a writer a great option. If you have a passion for creating stories, writers have a wide possibility of jobs, such as content writing, copywriting, technical writing, and creative writing, which can be done from the comfort of your home.

  • Average Salary: $51,000
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Industry experience

What To Look for in a Job as an Introvert

When looking for jobs as an introvert, it’s important to find something that will energize instead of drain you. Although some introverts might enjoy jobs that require a lot of social interaction like sales or customer service, they can often be mentally and even physically draining.

Instead, focus on jobs in which you can be independent and have limited social interactions, such as a graphic designer or a translator. Opting for a remote job can also be a great way to limit draining interactions, since meetings tend to be less frequent and are done virtually. You can also look for freelance job opportunities that let you work independently and at your own pace.

Bottom line: Don’t let your introversion hold you back. An inherent desire to work independently doesn’t mean you can’t become a CEO or take on traditionally extroverted roles. It’s all about finding ways to leverage your introverted qualities in your favor. Once more, that begins with learning about the best jobs for introverts.Time |

The post 25 Best Jobs for Introverts To Feel the Most Fulfilled appeared first on MintLife Blog.


8 Micro Money Habits for Guaranteed Success

You've probably noticed that the small things you do (or don't do) every day add up. In many cases, your micro habits make the difference between success and failure in different areas of your life, such as health, relationships, career, and finances. 

Today's episode will review eight micro money habits to help you take control of your finances, feel secure, and know that you can reach any realistic financial goal you want. 

Keep reading for the details on how to use these eight habits to create massive financial success:

Money Habit #1: Review your financial priorities frequently

It doesn't matter if you're a college graduate who's just starting a career, a parent who wants to pay for college, or a pre-retiree dreaming of traveling the world, you need to identify your unique financial priorities. Your money goals don't have to be complicated, but they do require an action plan for breaking them down into manageable smaller targets.

For example, if you want to save $60,000 for a house downpayment over the next five years, you'll need to put aside $12,000 a year or $1,000 a month. If you want to retire in 30 years with $1 million, you'll need to invest approximately $800 a month. 

Knowing what you're working and saving for helps you stay focused on the long-term — and tolerate short-term sacrifices you need to make. One trick to achieving your goals is remembering them. If you don't frequently review your financial priorities goals, it's easy to forget them. 

One trick to achieving goals is remembering them. If you don't frequently review your financial priorities goals, it's easy to forget them.

A wise micro habit is setting a daily or weekly calendar reminder to review your goals. Getting clear about what you want to accomplish with your money is the first step to success.

A simple tool I created to help you monitor your goals and financial progress is the Personal Financial Statement (PFS). It tracks your net worth, which is a crucial indicator of your financial health. You can download my PFS workbook and get started today.

And if you're not sure what your financial priorities should be, I have lots of ideas! The first box to check is an emergency fund that keeps you safe, no matter what. 

If you aren't building a cash reserve, ask yourself why. Maybe you need to cut frivolous spending, stop making impulse purchases, create a realistic spending plan, or create a side hustle. 

Money Habit #2: Automate your money goals

Since it's easy to forget about your financial priorities or lose motivation, I recommend outsmarting yourself by creating systems that help you keep up good behaviors. Financially healthy people protect their goals by using the micro habit of automation.  

Here are some ways to put your money goals on autopilot:

  • Participate in a retirement plan at work, such as a 401(k), which takes your elected contributions from your paycheck before you get the chance to spend them. 
  • Set up recurring transfers from your bank account to a savings or retirement account, such as an IRA or SEP-IRA (for the self-employed). 
  • Have a portion of each paycheck or a tax refund sent to savings so you can quickly build your emergency fund. 
  • Contribute to a 529 college savings plan to pay future college expenses for you, a child, or other family members. 

The sooner you automate saving and investing, the more financial security you and your family will have. 

And speaking of family, did you know that there's no age restriction for contributing to a traditional or Roth IRA? Even teenagers who get their first job can have a retirement account and put it on autopilot. 

Investing even small amounts pays off when you start early and make automation a micro habit.

Let's say your teenager earns $3,000 working a summer job. That qualifies them (or you on their behalf) to contribute up to $3,000 to an IRA. Consider this: If your 15-year-old child invested $3,000 per year, or $250 per month, until age 65, with an average moderate 6% return, they'd have $1 million to spend in retirement. 

Investing even small amounts pays off when you start early and make automation a micro habit.

Money Habit #3: Increase your savings rate slowly

Another micro money habit that won't disrupt your lifestyle but give you a considerable return is boosting your savings rate each year slowly. For instance, if you're saving 1% of your income to build an emergency fund, make a goal to save 2% next year.

Or, if you're contributing 5% to a retirement account at work, enroll in your plan's auto-escalation feature. Most plans allow you to schedule when, and by how much your elected contributions will increase, such as every January 1, you contribute 1% more than the prior year.

The idea is to slowly increase your retirement contributions until you hit the maximum amount allowed. For 2021, you can put up to $19,500, or $26,000 if you're over age 50, to a plan at work. With IRAs, you can contribute up to $6,000 or $7,000 after your 50th birthday.

If you're self-employed, you can use an IRA or other retirement accounts that come with higher annual contribution limits, such as a solo 401(k) or a SEP-IRA.

Money Habit #4: Check your credit regularly

Checking your credit is a micro money habit that only takes a few minutes. You can use the official credit reporting site,, or other tools, such as Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.

When you review your credit report, look for errors that could be hurting your scores or indicate you're a victim of identity theft. That includes incorrect payment information (such as showing a late payment when you paid on time), errors in account balances, available credit limits, or accounts that aren't yours.

Correcting mistakes can quickly increase your credit scores, helping you pay less for credit cards, various loans, insurance (in most states), certain utilities, and more. Make a habit of reviewing your credit reports at least once a year, and ideally more regularly, such as once a month or quarter.

Money Habit #5: Spend money consciously

Most people have limited financial resources which means that every cent is valuable and how you spend them matters. If I reviewed your spending over the past 30 days, I could tell you precisely what you value, such as clothes, dining out, or saving money. Values are the things you believe are most important, and they influence how you live, work, and relate to other people. 

Identify your values and closely align your financial life with them by making conscious spending a daily micro habit.

Every action you take, including your spending, either builds up or breaks down your values. So, identify your values and closely align your financial life with them by making conscious spending a daily micro habit.

In other words, cut back in areas that don't give you lasting fulfillment. That will leave you with more money to achieve your most meaningful goals.

Also, if you're a compulsive shopper or tend to make impulse purchases, be aware of your triggers. Financially healthy people have counterproductive impulses too, but they're more aware of them and resist them. 

Here are some effective strategies to control impulse spending:

  • Create a spending plan that accounts for your expenses and financial goals. 
  • Don't shop in person or online for entertainment (unless you can genuinely afford it). 
  • Unsubscribe from retail newsletters that offer promotions and sales you can't resist. 
  • Wait at least 24 hours before buying anything over a certain amount, such as $50 or $100, so your impulse settles down, and you can clearly decide if you really need the item. 
  • Go on a spending freeze, where you don't buy anything except dire necessities for a period, such as a week or a month. 
  • Calculate what an item costs you in time. For instance, if you earn $25 an hour after taxes, buying a $250 pair of shoes costs ten hours of work. Only you can know if an item is worth a long workday. 
  • Shop secondhand sites such as ThredUp, TheRealReal, eBay, and Craigslist to find new or slightly used items at massive discounts.

A 5-Day Plan to Improve Your Financial Life

Money Habit #6: Observe your money mindset

Your ability to build wealth and have financial success doesn't depend on your education or earning power. You've heard about pop stars and fashion models who end up bankrupt even though they've made millions. 

Focusing on your money mindset might seem frivolous. However, it's a critical micro habit to develop because it's the precursor to your behavior. None of your actions or behaviors happen in a vacuum; they spring from your mindset.

If you make a big financial mistake (and who hasn't!), learn from it and never let it happen again. Failure can teach us important lessons if we allow it. If you stay focused on what's most important, you can set yourself up for a rewarding and secure financial future.

Money Habit #7: Ignore the financial markets

For most investors, what's happening in the financial markets, such as the Dow or the NASDAQ, is irrelevant. Daily or weekly changes only matter if you need to sell or liquidate your investments in the short term. 

Make a micro habit of ignoring the financial markets and owning a diversified portfolio for long-term growth.

That's why you should never invest money that you might need in the next few years. The value could plummet at the precise moment you need to spend it.

Instead, make a micro habit of ignoring the financial markets and owning a diversified portfolio for long-term growth. Diversification means you own various investments that don't all move in tandem. That allows you to reduce investment risk because when some investments lose value, others may go up. 

The easiest way to diversify your investments is to own one or more low-cost funds, such as a mutual fund, index fund, or exchange-traded fund (ETF). They're made up of hundreds or thousands of underlying assets, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, currencies, and cash, giving you instant diversification.

A Beginner's Guide to Investing in Stocks

Money Habit #8: Leverage the right money pros

The last micro money habit to adopt is to be sure to use the right financial professionals. Consulting with experts can help you make giant leaps forward in your financial life.

Depending on your personal and business situations, you might benefit from hiring an expert. That might include a financial advisor, tax accountant, attorney, or estate specialist who can help you navigate hardships, answer questions, and manage complex life events you're facing.

For instance, if you want to get all the tax benefits you're entitled to, hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). If you don't have the best insurance for your family or business, seek an independent insurance broker who can help you get the best coverage at the lowest price. 

And if you have retirement questions, many investment firms offer free advice. So, take advantage of it and take control of your financial future.


Tips to Maximize Your Tax Refund in 2021

If you’re like most people, the pandemic has upended your life in numerous ways. It’s caused sickness, isolation, anxiety, and financial hardship for millions of Americans. The economic stimulus packages have been a bright spot for many who desperately need assistance.

Not only did the stimulus give qualifying individuals and businesses direct payments, forgivable loans, and increased unemployment benefits, but the laws changed many aspects of your 2020 income taxes.

I interviewed Cece Leung, CPA, for expert advice about taking advantage of the new tax rules. Cece is a Certified Public Accountant and author of the upcoming podcast and book, Dear Accountant. She’s also the founder of Entrepreneur CFO, an advisory firm that helps growing companies get financially and operationally ready for their next big thing.

On the Money Girl podcast, Cece and I discuss many critical tax tips to cut what you owe or increase the tax refund you receive. Some of the topics we cover include:

  • When is the optimal time to file your 2020 tax return
  • How delaying Tax Day may affect when you receive a refund
  • What to do if you didn’t receive an economic stimulus payment
  • Which stimulus benefits are taxable and non-taxable
  • What to do if you moved to another state during the pandemic
  • How to handle expenses related to a home office
  • Common mistakes individuals and business owners should avoid this year

Listen to the interview by clicking the audio player above or listen on Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.