Ah, the American Dream: making lots of money to buy a big house with more toilets than people living in it, then acquiring cars and lots of pretty things to look at.
But as we’ve spent more time than we ever expected in our homes with all of our stuff, we’ve found it’s not our shoe collections or hundreds of kitchen gadgets that bring us joy. It’s our connections with family and friends and creating new memories as we experience the world.
That’s why the minimalism movement has made such an impact on our lives recently. By selling and getting rid of *stuff*, we’re able to free up our cash to put into savings and investments and use it to see the people and things we care about.
So we’ve created this one-week minimalism challenge to cut the excess from our lives and maximize our money. To be able to free ourselves from physical objects weighing us down and grow our cash to be able to do the things we want.
See if you can complete the challenge in seven days!
Day 1: Cut Your Excess Bills
No, we don’t mean cancel your Netflix subscription — art is something that will continue to bring us joy, without taking up any space in our home.
But sure, if you don’t use Amazon anymore, you can cancel your Prime account (it may help you stop buying so much online), but we suggest cutting the bills that make no sense being so expensive. Like your car insurance.
When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices anyway?
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
Day 2: Minimize Your Online Spending
Extreme minimalism might not be up your alley, so we challenge you to alter your spending just a little to make your money go further.
For example, when you do your necessary online shopping, make sure you have an alarm ring when you’re about to overpay and save you hundreds every year.
That’s exactly what this free service does.
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.
In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.
You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.
Day 3: Just Let it Go
One way people kick off their minimalist lifestyle is by doing a 30-day minimalism challenge. Here’s how it works: Every day for 30 days, get rid of something in your house that doesn’t bring you joy. That’s it.
Today is your day to start — and you can make money doing it.
The broken lamp you’ve been thinking about fixing your months/years? Trash it.
The hand-me-down baby toys your kid doesn’t play with? Give it away on your local Buy Nothing Facebook group.
The clothes hanging in your closet that don’t fit or aren’t your style anymore? Sell them! Here are a few easy ways to get cash for your stuff:
- Order a clean-out bag from ThredUp and fill it with your clothes and shoes in good condition. Your mail carrier will pick it up for free and Thredup will pay you. It’s a pretty easy way to clean out your closet and make some cash.
- List your high-ticket clothing items on a website like Poshmark. It takes more effort to create an account, market your items and mail them to buyers yourself, but you can potentially make more money than other resale options
- Have other good condition items you want to get rid of? Sell them on eBay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to clean out your stuff locally.
Day 4: Say Goodbye to Credit Card Debt
Having credit card debt is a surefire way to minimize your savings. The interest rates your credit card company is charging you makes you feel like 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 — some up to 36%. But the sooner you get rid of your debt, the sooner you can start maximizing your money.
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 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
You don’t need a perfect credit score to get a loan — and comparing your options won’t affect your score at all. Plus, AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes less than a minute and just 10 questions to see what loans you qualify for — you don’t even need to enter your Social Security number. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
Day 5: Minimize Your Family’s Worries
Speaking of debt, even if you don’t have any now — you don’t want to create any for your family later. All your hard work to adopt a financially minimalist lifestyle could be crushed.
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? How they’ll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Now’s a good time to start planning for the future by looking into 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 $16 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 6: Maximize Your Cash Back
No matter how much you minimize your finances, you’re still going to need to spend money. It’s just a fact!
But 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 right now?
Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to 5% back every time you swipe.
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?
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.”
Day 7: Maximize Your Investments
Now that you’ve minimized your finances all week long, you’re able to maximize your future net worth — by owning a company.
That may sound expensive at first glance — we’re not Warren Buffet or Elon Musk — but with just a few dollars to start, it’s not totally out of reach when you use an app called Stash.
Stash lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy 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, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1
It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2
Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*
1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.
2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.
For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.
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.