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    FYI, Your Money Probably Isn't Working As Hard As It Should β€” Here Are 12 Ways To Fix That

    Because you're already busting your bum to make a living.

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    Money management can be tough, especially when it feels like you're doing all the right things but your savings aren't growing fast enough and your debt isn't disappearing. But it doesn't always have to be that way.

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    When your money works for you, you're able to grow your cash and take advantage of perks and discounts without doing too much extra work. And, it doesn't have to be a convoluted process! Here are some ways you can get started:

    FYI, what might work for one person may not work for another. No financial advice is one-size-fits-all. Be sure to take your personal circumstances and needs into consideration, and do what works for you.

    1. Pay yourself first.

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    Saving money can be hard sometimes, especially when it feels like you have bill after bill, debt, and household expenses. Even when you intend to save a little cash this month, it can be easy to just get caught up in taking care of (and even overspending on) your expenses. Then before you know it, "I'll save money this month" becomes "I'll save money next month." And the cycle just continues.

    When you pay yourself first, aka save or invest a little money as soon as you get your paycheck, saving is no longer an afterthought; it's no longer something you might be able to do if you have some leftover cash. That's not to say that you should totally neglect your expenses, though.

    You can even set up an automatic schedule for having money transferred into your savings account, so you won't have to lift a finger to save!

    2. Take advantage of that sweet, sweet interest by putting your savings into a high-yield savings account.

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    Your current bank might be offering you a veeeeery low return on your savings. While the average interest rate is 0.04% for savings accounts, many offer even less β€” which means you're earning literal pennies on your hard-earned cash. But there are other ways to make your money work a little harder.

    Some banks offer high-yield savings accounts, which can earn you more interest back on your money. Keep in mind that these rates can change as the interest rates set by the Federal Reserve change, but you'll still get a higher return compared to keeping your money in a super-low interest account. Online banks usually offer higher interest rates than brick-and-mortar banks. This is because they typically have fewer overhead expenses, so they're able to offer more.

    3. And choose a bank that doesn't charge you various, wallet-busting fees.

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    When you're just beginning to build your savings, It's kind of hard to keep your money in the bank when monthly maintenance fees and overdraft charges are taking huge bites out of your balance. Oh, and did we mention that sometimes if you make too many withdrawals in a given time period, you could be charged a fee for that as well? Oh, and BTW, you can also be charged for insufficient funds, ATM usage, and wire transfers. At this rate, it almost feels like you'll barely have any money left to actually live on. Make sure the bank doesn't eat up too much of your money by picking a bank with very few or no charges. You still have to be responsible with your money, but at least you won't literally have to pay for the tiniest slipups. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is one option that offers a high-yield savings account without fees, but doing some extra research could help you pick the account that best suits all of your needs.

    4. If your company has a 401(k) plan, opt in, especially if they offer to match.

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    A 401(k) can be a game-changing retirement tool. Some employers offer a 401(k) matching program (if you aren't sure about yours, double-check with your HR department). Basically, when you contribute up to a certain percentage of your paycheck, your employer will match all or part of your contribution. So let's say you need to contribute 5% to get a dollar-for-dollar match; this is actually like getting 10% socked away for retirement, even though you're only contributing 5%. The match can be quite powerful. Just pay attention to the matching terms of your company: If you don't contribute the minimum match percentage, you WON'T qualify for the extra money from your employer!

    And if you wanna learn more about 401(k) plans, we did all the hard work for you! We got financial experts to answer the most common questions about 401(k)s.

    5. One-up your retirement fund by opening up a Roth IRA account.

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    And if you reaaally want to put your retirement savings to work, open up a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is a retirement account but, unlike a 401(k), it is not company-sponsored. You can open the account on your own! In other words, it's a great option if you're self-employed or your employer doesn't offer retirement benefits.

    If you have a 401(k), you might be asking yourself, "Do I really need more than one retirement account?" But here's the ~beautiful~ thing about the Roth IRA: When you make withdrawals in retirement, you WON'T have to pay taxes on the money. This is because you'll be using your after-tax dollars to contribute to the account. With the traditional 401(k), however, you WILL pay taxes on withdrawals in retirement. There is a Roth 401(k) option that has similar tax advantages to a Roth IRA; however, not all employers offer this account.

    So basically, your Roth IRA can help you save for retirement in a tax-advantaged way. Pretty neat, huh?

    6. And consider investing small amounts of money outside of retirement accounts.

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    It's important to save for emergencies, big purchases, and other future goals. But nowadays, it's equally important to create a healthy balance between saving and investing. Thanks to inflation, the cost of goods and services has increased, but the value of money hasn't. In other words, the same amount of money affords you less over time.

    But when you invest your money into an account that earns you a return, your money grows despite the increasing cost of goods. Think of it this way: If you keep $500 in a piggy bank, in 10 years it's still going to be $500. You haven't accrued interest or invested it in anything to make it grow. But let's say you put that $500 into an account that earns you a 5% return every year. In 10 years β€” without ever adding to your initial amount β€” $500 will become $814. Try this handy-dandy investment calculator to play around with the numbers and see for yourself how much you can earn through investing.

    There are several ways to invest money. You can pick individual stocks and invest in index funds, mutual funds, and more. Just keep in mind that different investments carry different levels of risk. Be sure to do your research before you invest, and when in doubt, you can always ask a financial adviser to help you figure out which investments are right for your comfort level and goals.

    7. Pay more than just the minimum on your monthly debt payments.

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    Interest charges can seriously eat into your monthly payment. Oftentimes, when you make just the minimum monthly payment on a bill, all or most of that cash just goes toward interest. Not your principal balance. In other words, it ends up feeling like you're paying and paying and paying, but you aren't seeing a lower balance. This is obviously super frustrating!

    So to make sure you can also attack some of that balance, try paying a little more than just the minimum each month if you can afford it. Even $20 more than the minimum can go a long way. Just be sure to contact your loan servicer to confirm that the extra money will go toward your principal and not toward next month's interest.

    8. And, if you can, pay off your credit cards in full each month.

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    When you use a credit card to pay for something, you often end up paying more than it really costs. That's because you'll accrue interest on the charge if you don't pay off the balance in full. Credit cards have notoriously high interest rates: The average is 17.87% for new accounts. So your wallet's really taking a beating if you don't fully pay off your balance every time you make a purchase.

    Plus, consistently paying off your balance can help improve your credit score. Your credit score gets used to determine whether or not you qualify for a loan (hello, future home buyers!), and it can even determine the interest rate you'll pay on that loan. So having a healthy credit score can basically pay for itself over and over. If you aren't sure what your credit score is, you can get yours from your bank or sign up for a service like Experian. You'll get all the tools you need to monitor your score, understand how it's calculated, and understand what habits you need to improve in order to increase your score.

    9. Use credit cards with rewards you'll actually use.

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    It feels like rewards credit cards are all the rage β€” for good reason, too. I mean, it's pretty cool to earn points toward free flights, cash back, and gift cards just for making the purchases you normally would! It's like getting a prize for buying your groceries.

    There are sooo many rewards cards out there, but the one that'll really put your money to work is the one that best suits your lifestyle needs. For example, if you love traveling, a credit card that earns you points toward free flights and hotel stays can help you save a lot of money in the long run. And if you just like earning a lump sum of cash back and using it any way you want, then a card with a high cash back percentage might suit your fancy.

    Keep in mind that many credit cards with the biggest reward offers often have high annual fees, so you'll have to weigh your needs and figure out if the fee is personally worth it. And rewards cards work best when you can pay off your balance each month; avoid making extra purchases just to get rewards points.

    10. Create a budget that works for you.

    11. Use your health insurance, student, or work perks for discounts on popular products and services.

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    If you work for an employer, your company might have discount programs with big or local brands so their employees can snag coupon codes, free trials, and more on popular products and services. If you aren't sure if your company has these offers, reach out to the benefits team or HR department. But once you're sure this is a money-saving perk available to you, get into the habit of exploring your company discount options before you purchase anything. Saving this money can free it up for use toward other expenses.

    BTW, if you have health insurance, you might also be able to get discounts on gym memberships, medical supplies for conditions like diabetes, meditation apps, and more. Just look at your policy and make sure you're not missing an opportunity to save.

    And of course, if you're a student, you can get discounts on all kinds of things with your student ID card. Even if a business doesn't advertise student discounts, it never hurts to ask!

    12. Lastly, don't forget to claim any tax credits you may be eligible for.

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    For example, if you took classes last year, under the American Opportunity Tax Credit, you miiiight qualify to claim a tax credit to receive up to $2,500 of the cost of tuition. In order to be eligible, you must be at least a part-time student at a recognized university who hasn't claimed the tax credit for more than four tax years. Your income must also be below $80,000 if you're single (or below $160,000 if you're married) to receive the full credit amount (though, you can receive a partial amount if your income is above $80,000 but below $90,000). The IRS has more info on their website, but this is just a rundown of their most important points.

    But a tuition tax credit is just one of the types of credits you can receive. There are also tax credits for families and credits for households earning a certain amount of money. Be sure to ask a tax professional what credits you may qualify for.

    What are some genius money tips you use to get more out of your hard-earned cash? Share them in the comments below!

    And if this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.