This 7-Day Money Challenge is Perfect for Parents — No Matter How Busy

A father takes a break from his work to play with his kids.
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Life gets busy, especially when you have kids.

You go from sleepless nights to messy mealtimes to curious toddlers to, suddenly, tiny humans who talk and have (very strong) opinions. Then, before you know it, they’re in school.

At this point, you definitely know how expensive kids are — we don’t have to tell you that. But we wanted to check in: How are you feeling financially? As your kid gets older, you’ll face even more expenses (e.g. school activities, clothes, food, etc., etc.).

Before you get too overwhelmed, make these smart money moves. Heck, you can do many of these by the end of today!

1. Add an Extra $40K to Your Kid’s College Fund

Does it ever frustrate you that the super-rich can get their kids into any college they want, meanwhile the rest of us are left wondering how to even afford next semester’s textbooks? 

But just because you’re not a millionaire doesn’t mean you can’t use some of the same strategies the super-rich use.

Here’s a secret of the rich: They save their money tax-free. With an app called U-Nest, you can take advantage of that same strategy, which, by the time your kid is ready for college, could mean $40,000 more than you would save in a regular savings account. 

New to all this? U-Nest will hold your hand through the whole thing. It makes it super easy to get started saving as little as $25 a month in one of its tax-free investing accounts (you might’ve heard these called 529 plans.) 

When saving $40,000 is this easy, why wouldn’t you do it? It takes five minutes to download the U-Nest app and create an account.

2. Leave Your Family $1 Million in Life Insurance; Rates Start at $8/Month

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 $8 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.

3. Invest 15 Cents in The Stock Market

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: 15 cents? How’s that going to do me or my kid any good?

Well, that leftover change from your morning coffee and evening grocery hauls could turn into more than $1,000.

That’s what happened when Penny Hoarder reader Jeremy Kolodziej opened an investment account with Acorns. The app’s round-up feature bumps each of your purchases up to the nearest dollar and puts the spare change into the stock market, which helped him mindlessly save $1,076 in about 20 months.

“It’s a virtual coin jar,” he says. “You don’t even think about it.” He used the spare change to pay for two vacations.

Plus, Acorns invested the money for him, allowing him to grow his savings — without studying stock prices or managing trades.

It’s never too early to get kids started too. Explain what you’re doing and how their money will grow with them. Eventually, they can take more ownership of the process, and when they’re old enough, they’ll have a nice little savings to put toward something of their own.

The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.

4. Make Sure You Have the Right Car Insurance

Chances are, you know it’s entirely possible to find a better deal on some of your pesky monthly bills but what a hassle. What busy parent has time for that?

Here’s an easy one to start with, though: Car insurance. You should be shopping your options every six months or so. It could save you some serious money.

A company called The Zebra will do this for you. It makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices in a matter of minutes.

Take Lourdes Robles-Velazquez, for example. The single mom lives on a tight budget. She was paying $205 a month to insure two Toyota Priuses — hers and her daughter’s. By comparing prices, she knocked $80 off her monthly car insurance bill. That’s nearly $1,000 in savings per year.

Wondering how much you could save? Head over to The Zebra for a free quote. It takes all of two minutes.

5. Check in With Your Budget

At this point, you know how expensive it is to raise a kid. Yes, it’s totally worth it, but it’s important to keep tabs on your budget, especially because, as your kid grows, your expenses likely will, too. (Think: After-school activities, clothes and sports.)

Keep tabs on these new expenses as they pop up so you can keep your budget updated accordingly. And if you don’t already have a budget? We like the 50/20/30 budgeting method. It’s super simple.

Here’s how you’ll allot your income:

  • 50% of your monthly income goes toward living expenses. These include rent, mortgage, utilities, groceries, car payments, gas and loan payments.
  • 20% of your monthly income goes toward money goals, which can include investments, savings and debt-reduction payments above the minimum amount.
  • 30% of your monthly income goes toward personal spending. That’s everything else.

Use this budgeting method to keep yourself accountable and on track to hitting your financial goals.

6. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

No, like… the whole bill. All of it.

While you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off those insane interest rates. But a company called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.

Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.

If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 3.84% and terms from 24 to 84 months.

Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.

All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.

7. Consider Quitting Your Job

As a parent, your list of expenses never seems to end. But there’s a great way for busy parents to earn up to $60 an hour working remotely — and on their own time.

Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and business owner, will teach you how to become a virtual bookkeeper through his online course, Bookkeeper Business Launch.

And no, you don’t have to be a CPA to be successful in this business. In fact, all you really need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems.

It’s helped thousands of people launch their own mini-businesses, including Daniel Honan, a military veteran and former painter who’s in his early 30s. He never considered starting his own company, but he signed up for Bookkeeper Launch, and now he’s making $50,000 a year keeping track of business expenses for his 10 clients.

It only took him three months to get started, taking one class a week. If you’re just a little curious, you just have to submit your email address here to take the first free class.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.