No one likes being judged. Especially when it comes to personal finance.
I’m keenly aware of my budgetary state, so having someone totally judge me for it — and not offer constructive advice — is the worst.
Yes, I understand I need to stash more into my emergency savings. And I know I shouldn’t have spent $5 on that latte. And investing… that makes me nervous.
But just help me; don’t chastise me.
That’s why I’ve rounded up some personal finance advisers — and some money management apps — that’ll help you get your money in order.
And they’ll do it without a single shred of judgement.
And, perhaps even better, without an ounce of conversation.
1. Take a Deep Breath, and Check Your Credit Score
One of the judgiest parts of personal finance comes with that three-digit numeral.
It’s called a credit score, and the mere mention of it might send you spiraling back to high school when your worth was measured on a 4.0 scale. But with a credit score, it’s different. You can actually make large strides to improve it — without having to become the teacher’s pet.
Credit Sesame can help you get there. It will provide you a free credit report card — including your credit score. It breaks your score down and grades different aspects of your credit profile.
But don’t worry. If you see a big fat “D” or “F,” Credit Sesame gives you personalized reasoning and recommendations on how to improve your grade.
The whole platform is intuitive (and easier to read than your teacher’s handwritten comments). Kenneth Bain followed Credit Sesame’s recommendations and increased his score by more than 200 points.
No extra credit required.
2. Start Investing While This App Holds Your Hand
Sometimes, when something is really intimidating, you just need someone — or something? — to hold your hand.
Then, once you get started, you’re fine, you’re great, you’re confident. It’s just like homework in grade school.
This is where Stash comes into the picture. The micro-investing app will help you start investing with as little as $5.
All you’ll have to do is fill out some basic information, then choose your investing style: conservative, moderate or aggressive.
Don’t worry: The Stash app explains what these mean, but as a rule of thumb, the younger you are, the more aggressive you should be.
You’ll go on to answer questions about your employment status and citizenship. Heads up: It’s also going to ask for your Social Security number. It won’t check your credit; it just needs to know you’re a real person. Any other SEC-registered investment advisor will ask for it, too.
In “Auto-Stash” mode, the app automatically withdraws a certain amount of cash from your bank account as often as you’d like — from once a week to once a month. Pick whatever you feel like you can handle — even just $5.
Your first month of Stash is free, and you’ll bank a $5 bonus when you sign up here.
Each month after, your fee is $1 until your account hits $5,000. After that, Stash charges 0.25% of your account balance per year.
3. Balance Your 401(k) Without Sass
If you have a 401(k), you’re already on the right financial track — so go, you! If you haven’t looked at it — or even know what to do with it — that’s OK, too.
The world of 401(k)s is a tricky one, but there are robo-advisors out there that’ll help you and prevent you from having to read a textbook-worth of investing definitions.
Warning: This part might make you feel a little judged. Blooom uses a flower to represent your 401(k).
For example, it told me I had the wrong mix of stocks and bonds, and that I could have better diversification. So my account flower was wilted.
But the best part about flowers is they, well, “Blooom.” I opted in for the $10-per-month service, and now Blooom lets me know when it’s optimized my retirement savings.
I feel good about my future — and not so judged.
4. Get a Little Personal… Loan
If you have debt, you definitely aren’t in the mood for criticism.
But you’ll need to open up, just a little bit, if you want to consider some options — like refinancing or consolidating — to help you pay that sum down faster.
Don’t worry. You can hit up Even Financial, a consumer financial technology platform. It’ll help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Complete three simple steps, then Even searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer. Even’s platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
5. Set (Gentle) Spending Notifications
Not being judged is great and all, but sometimes when spending gets out of hand, you need a little slap of the wrist. A gentle one. A tap, really.
That’s where my buddy Trim can help you. Trim is a personal-finance bot that automates a number of tasks for you — including personalized account alerts.
Set Trim to notify you when you’re charged an overdraft or late fee. You can also set it up to let you know when you’ve just completed a large transaction or when it’s payday! Yay!
Set other reminders about upcoming bills including, rent, cable or water.
Then, Trim sends you a text or Facebook Message with reminders.
Bonus: It scavenges your subscriptions for you, so that gym membership you haven’t used in years? Trim’s not judging you. In fact, it’ll just cancel it for you.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a big fan of gentle reminders.
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.
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