Turning 38? Here are 18 Smart Money Moves to Make This Year
So, you’re turning 38! You’re deep into your 30s, and every day brings you just a little bit closer to the big 4-0.
No matter how young you may feel, you’re smack-dab in the middle of adulthood. It’s time to start thinking differently about your money.
There are steps you can take right now that’ll help set you up for the rest of your life.
Financial Tips and Tricks Every 38-Year-Old Should Know
Now that you’re freshly 38 — or getting close to it — we’ve got a bunch of tips and tricks for making, saving and managing your money so you’ll cruise into your 40s with the wind at your back.
1. Don’t Just Wish for Better Car Insurance
For many, car insurance is just one of those things where we cave in and pay. Because, just like the electric bill and phone service, we need it, right?
Yes. There’s no getting around car insurance, unfortunately. But one way you could save money is by shopping and comparing rates twice a year.
“Not only can a lot of circumstances in your life and your car (mileage, age) change in that time, but insurance companies may be changing their pricing as well, and you want to be sure you’re getting the right coverage, service and of course pricing to suit your changing needs,” says Alyssa Connolly, the director of marketing insights at The Zebra.
According to The Zebra’s 2019 State of Insurance report, consumers just aren’t doing this. And car insurance rates keep increasing, with the average person paying $1,470 a year for coverage.
The takeaway? Compare rates regularly. The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.
Just enter information about your car and your coverage needs, and The Zebra shows dozens of side-by-side quotes from top insurance companies for free.
2. You’ve Built a Great Life. Now Protect It
Chances are, by the time you reach your 30s, you’ve established a life. That could mean you own your dream business. Or it could mean little ones who look up at you with awe as you read them bedtime stories. It could mean that house on a few acres with the big porch you always wanted.
You’re building your dream life. If that includes a family, the last thing you want is to leave them without any financial support once you’re gone.
Maybe it’s time to think about life insurance. It doesn’t have to be the uncomfortable experience you might expect. Some newcomers in the industry are updating the old model.
Ethos, for example, can get you term life insurance in less than 10 minutes — with no medical exam — for coverage up to $1 million. Ethos offers a digital application, and customer service is available if you have questions.
It partners with a major life insurance carrier to quickly offer policies as low as $6 a month. It’s helped thousands of folks access term life insurance, including independent contractors who use Uber, Postmates, TaskRabbit and other gig apps to find work.
Don’t think about a life insurance policy as preparing for death; think about it as a birthday gift you’re giving yourself. Peace of mind.
3. Let This Company Help You Get Rid of Your Credit Card Debt
Don’t go into the rest of adulthood with debt dragging you down.
When Cheryl Cavalli, a stay-at-home mom of two, decided to launch a business as a home-based travel agent, she knew she would need to secure a loan to give herself the best possible financial foundation.
Cavalli and her husband, Virge, used Fiona (previously Even Financial) to find a loan offer that would work for them.
“All of the major loan providers were presented in a very simple table — what their rates were, what the terms were,” Virge says. With a simple search, they found a loan that ticked all their boxes and had an interest rate of just 5.9%.
A good resource is consumer financial technology platform Fiona, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Fiona searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds.If your credit score is at least 620, its 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.
Whether your goals have to do with paying off debt or financing a new business venture, Fiona’s marketplace makes it easy to find the right loan for your situation.
4. Start Investing for the Price of a Cup of a Coffee
If you’re going to be a real adult who makes small talk at parties hosted by other people your age, investing is a good place to start. And sure, becoming an investor sounds intimidating — but it really doesn’t have to be.
If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.
You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.
Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.
The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $420 a year!
At that rate, you could set aside $1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.
The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
5. Get a Better Credit Card
At your age, you know enough to know that credit cards aren’t necessarily evil. You just have to be smart about how you use them. Oh, and isn’t it time you got one that gives you something back?
If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
6. Get a Piece of the Real Estate Action
What’s the most adulting thing you can think of?
Stumped? OK, here it is: Investing in real estate.
The cool news is you can start investing in real estate without having to play landlord, and we found a company that helps you do just that.
Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.
Katie Smith, who recently graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., has always been a saver.
But after years of watching her carefully tucked away funds sit in a low-interest savings account, Smith decided it was time for her money to start making more money — so she decided to invest it in real estate through a company called Fundrise.
While she technically only needed $500 to get started, Smith decided to invest a little more than that. “It’s a pretty low barrier to entry in terms of the amount of money you need,” Smith said. “I invested a couple grand, and I’ve been really pleased with the results.”
Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.
“I can go into my Fundrise account and see what I actually own,” Smith said. “I own a piece of an apartment complex in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Property on the West Coast. Bits and pieces of apartment complexes in Texas and Denver, a construction loan, a mixed-use property.”
7. Negotiate Everything — Especially Your Bills
When you bought your car, did you settle for the sticker price? How about your house? At your age, you’ve seen enough to know that everything is negotiable.
That doesn’t mean that you want to go through the hassle of negotiating it all yourself. That’s why it’s time to call in a robot.
The negotiation bot Trim will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast and other major providers.
You can sign up simply with Facebook or your email address. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.
Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you.
Trim takes 25% of the savings tab, and you get the rest.
Your 30-year-old self would never believe this is possible. Being 38 rocks!
8. Give Your Retirement Fund A Boost
Remember when retirement seemed like some concept set for the far, far distant future?
Yeah, that future’s coming up kinda fast, isn’t it?
You have a 401(k) — kudos for that, but is it doing what you need it to?
If you’re like most people, you have no idea whether your 401(k) is on pace for your retirement or just sputtering along.
Chances are, it could be doing a lot better. Take control with help from Blooom, an investment advisory firm registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission that can optimize and monitor your retirement account for you and keep it speeding toward retirement.
It just takes a few minutes to get a free 401(k) analysis that will show you whether your investments are allocated properly and whether you’re losing money paying hidden investment fees. It’ll even tell you just how much more money your account could earn by the time you want to retire.
After that, if you sign up, it’s just $10 per month to have Blooom monitor and maximize your 401(k). Bonus: Penny Hoarders get the first month free with the code PNNYHRD.
It’s like giving yourself a birthday present for a future birthday.
9. Get Smart About Shopping
By 38, you’re probably a shopping pro — no denying that. But what if you could go from a shopping pro to a shopping expert?
By simply saving your receipts, you can start earning cash back when you shop. And if earning money every time you walk into Target doesn’t scream, “I just leveled up in adulthood,” I don’t know what does.
If you’re not earning cash back when you shop, you’re basically missing out on free money.
We know it sounds strange, but Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.
Here’s how it works: Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.
Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
Don’t feel like leaving home? No worries. You can earn cash back online when you shop through Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online.
We love it around here, because it’s an instant way to save on everything you buy. For example, Ebates gives you 10% cash-back on online purchases at Walmart.
Plus you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.
To earn your gift card:
- Sign up for Ebates with your email or Facebook account.
- Use the Ebates portal the next time you need to buy something. It’s connected to thousands of stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. You’ll need to make your first purchase through the site within 90 days and spend at least $25.
- Your account will be credited with rewards points you can cash in for your $10 Walmart gift card.
10. Protect Your Home and Cool Stuff
You’ve worked hard and for a long time to create your home. The stuff you’ve accumulated, whether you rent or own a home, is worth protecting.
If you have homeowners or renters insurance, you might be paying too much for it. Try shopping around.
If you’ve never looked into it, start by getting a free quote.We recommend the online insurance company Lemonade, through which renters insurance starts at $5 a month and homeowners insurance starts at $25 a month.
Beyond affordable rates, Lemonade adds a layer of transparency you don’t often see in the insurance world. Instead of profiting extra when it doesn’t have to pay out claims, the company keeps a set 20% of your premium for itself, and 80% goes into a pool for paying claims. Money left over after paying claims each year goes to a cause of your choice.
That also means Lemonade isn’t going to be super stingy about granting customers the claims they deserve — ’cause the money isn’t going into its pockets.
Lemonade is available in Arizona, California, Connecticut Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
OK, so now that you know Lemonade has your back, here’s how to get a free quote. It’s easy — and you can do it all online. (Nope, it won’t hurt your credit score!)
- Click “Check Our Prices.”
- Get to know Maya, Lemonade’s chatbot. She’s nice and will ask you a few questions.
- Once you complete the application, you’ll receive a quote within a minute or two.
Plus, at the end of the day, you’ll feel better knowing your hard-earned belongings are insured. Now that you’re 38, it’s time to squeeze the most out of life and your finances!
11. Start a Budget. All the Cool Kids Are Doing It
Clarity Money* is a free app that helps you see, organize, and take control of your finances.
The way it works is simple. You just download the app, connect your existing accounts, and get ready to learn more about where your money’s disappearing to… and how to keep more of it.
Clarity Money analyzes and uses your spending history to provide budgetary insights. It’ll show you exactly how much you spend in different categories, like bars and restaurants, as a percentage of your total expenses.
But it’s not just a recap of your weekend spending with pretty graphics.
It also gives you the tools and information you need to start making better financial choices. And they’re all super-easy to use, and accessible right inside the app.
12. Get Rewarded Just for Paying Your Bills on Time
Your mom probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor when you were a kid. Now all you get for doing it is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.
As an adult, you don’t typically get rewards for doing things that are expected of you… until now.
This app kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.
The app also connects with all your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
13. Get a Grip on Your Credit Score
Your credit reports are basically the Holy Grail of your finances — and your life.
Financially, they can influence many of your big life decisions, like buying a house or a car. These decisions can become a whole lot more difficult if your credit reports have an error.
This is easy to prevent, though, especially if you just check in on your credit reports (you’ve got three major ones) every so often.
One option is to use a free app like CreditWise® from Capital One®. There, you’ll get a free TransUnion® credit report, which you can review for signs of error, theft or fraud. It’ll even give you personalized suggestions to help you improve your credit score.
14. Get Some Help Paying Your Credit Card Bills
Carrying more than one credit card balance can feel a bit like herding cats. Just when you think you have one under control, you realize you’ve let a different one slip away.
High interest rates and late fees can make it feel like you’ll never get those bills under control.
That’s where Tally comes in. It’s a simple app that lets you store and manage your credit card payments in one place, optimizing the amounts and times.
Simply download the iOS app, scan in your credit cards, and if you qualify (with a minimum credit score of around 675), Tally will give you a line of credit with an interest rate between 7.9% and 19.9%* and use the lower interest rate to make managing your payments easy.
No more missed payments. Lower interest rates. All in one place. And don’t worry, Tally uses bank-level security, so your information is safe.
Tally is currently available in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
*Your APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will depend on your credit history and varies with the market based on Prime Rate. Accurate as of July 2018.
15. See if You Can’t Cut Back on Your Monthly Bills
It’s important to make sure you’re getting a good deal on any product or service you use, and this is a lot easier than you might think.
Hop on Squeeze, a website that allows you to compare rates for mortgages, auto loans, student loans, renters insurance, and mobile and internet plans (among others) for free.
Say you want to compare internet prices. Based on your location, the site aggregates all your options and shows you companies alongside price points and download speeds.
16. Refinance Your Mortgage for a Better Interest Rate
If you’re about to hit 38, you’re probably at a point in life where you’re hearing your friends talk about refinancing their homes and thinking, “Wait, is that something I should do?”
If you’re still paying interest on your mortgage at an old rate, refinancing could help you take advantage of better interest rates and save thousands of dollars over time.
But getting a new mortgage can take months and can be a hassle — and it’s enough to make you throw your hands up in defeat and just go on living with the uncomfortably high interest rate from years ago.
And… you might find out in the end it’s not even worth it.
Before you take the leap, we found a company that wants to help you avoid a common mortgage mistake.
17. Get Some Passive Income
If there’s anything you know in your 30s, it’s that passive is OK. No, it’s better than OK. Passive is great. You know, like a nap.
Passive income is exactly what it sounds like: income that comes to you without you lifting a finger — at least after the initial setup.
While you can’t expect free money to just appear in your bank account, you can take steps to set yourself up with a cash flow that comes in automatically with little to no upkeep.
Why is it important to have a source of passive income? Well, Brad Hines, who estimates 10 to 15% of his income is passive, puts it this way:
“When zero of your money is passive income, that inherently means every minute you’re not working, you’re not making money.”
To make the most of your down time — like that big trip you’ll take to celebrate turning 38 — set up a passive income stream of your own.
Passive income sources can range from really big (think: owning a business) to really tiny (think: owning a gumball machine).
If you don’t mind the initial work of setting up your passive income streams, the payoff and peace of mind can be sweet. Let’s face it, you don’t really want to work any harder than you need to anymore.
18. Start Saving to Send the Kids to College
If you already have kids, you know just how expensive they can be. If you think it’s bad now, just wait until tuition, rent and all of the other bills that come along with college start rolling in.
Whatever your situation, it’s time to start thinking about saving for your kids’ futures.
It’s important to think about all the ways you can save for your child’s future, such as a low-risk savings bond or a 529 plan to cover college expenses. Why?
Because if they don’t go to college, they may still be living with you. Forever. For. Ever.
19. Get Your 30-Year-Old Body Back
Tina Russell/The Penny HoarderWhat better gift can you give yourself than better health and fitness?
In 2016, Teresa Suarez was frustrated by the thought of a possible future in which she continued to ignore her health — and by her own lack of motivation.
“I knew I could be at 300 pounds within months,” she recalls.
So Suarez signed up for HealthyWage, a company that will literally pay you to lose weight.
She bet $125 per month that she would lose 60 pounds in six months. When she achieved that goal, she won a whopping $2,415.28 — more than tripling her initial investment in herself.
Betting on herself and knowing she would lose the money if she didn’t follow through was the kickstart Suarez needed to actually make lasting lifestyle changes.
Depending on how much you have to lose, how long you give yourself to do it and how much money you put on the table, you could win up to $10,000!
Be like Teresa and give yourself an awesome birthday gift. Then go ahead and have a piece of cake. You’ve earned it.
*Fundrise Disclosure: Redemptions are subject to certain restrictions. See Full Disclosures for more information.
The publicly filed offering circulars of the issuers sponsored by Rise Companies Corp. (parent company of Fundrise), not all of which may be currently qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission, may be found at fundrise.com/oc.
**Chase Disclosure: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
Disclosure: Clarity Money compensates us when you download the app using the links we provide.