How To Build And Improve Your Credit Score In Your 20s

We at Investing Simple are not financial advisors. While we are sharing best practices, your situation is unique. If you have any doubts, your best bet is to talk to a financial advisor about your personal situation.

Here’s something that doesn’t always come up in everyday conversation: your credit score.

You’ve seen the commercials about obtaining your credit score, but what, exactly, is a credit score?

For those looking for a bit of nostalgia, watch this video…

It’s actually very simple: your credit score tells lenders how trustworthy you are based on your financial history.

But what if you have absolutely no financial history? No worries. Many younger adults are facing the same dilemma. The good news is this: you can start TODAY to build up a credit history that will set you up for a healthy score tomorrow.

That means you’ll be able to secure loans you need for purchases like a car, or a lease to rent an apartment, or eventually, even a mortgage for a house. Even better, you will get those loans with competitive interest rates rather than having to pay more because lenders aren’t sure you know how to handle money.

What Credit Score To Aim For

Credit scores generally run with a range between 300-850. For most people, their score falls between 600 and 750, with a score of 700 or above considered good. Log in a score of 800 or above, and you’ve reached the status of excellent.

The higher your score, the more likely that you’ve made very good credit decisions. This, in turn can make creditors more confident that you will repay your future debts and fulfill your commitments to them. You win, they win. No brainer.

FICO.jpg
FICO Credit Score Range, Flickr

Who Looks At Credit Scores?

Credit scores are used by lenders, including banks, that provide mortgage loans, credit card companies, and even car dealerships financing auto purchases, to make decisions about whether or not to offer a credit card or a loan.

Just as important as loan approval is what’s in the small print: the terms of the offer. Terms include the rate of interest and the down payment. As you can imagine, you want to secure a loan with the lowest possible interest, and if you’ve hit a home run with a credit score of, say, 820, you’re in a much better position to negotiate.

How Long Does It Take To Build Good Credit?

It doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time to build up a solid credit history. According to information from some of the major credit bureaus, you can build an average or good credit score in about a year or two. But beyond that, it can take as much as five to seven years to build an excellent credit score of 750 or higher.

It’s possible to build good credit in just a handful of years, but you would need to open at least a few accounts of each type (loans and credit cards) and be 100 percent devoted to making payments on time. Keep in mind, the shorter your credit history, the more a single late payment will tarnish your reputation. And you’re shooting for gold here, not silver.

Most people with credit scores in the top 10 percent (around 800 or better) have at least 10 years of credit history. That’s because the average age of your credit accounts is one of the weightier factors for your score. The longer your accounts have been open and in good standing, the higher the score.

Here is a helpful video on how to build your credit score in 30 days!

Credit Score 101

Here’s a quick overview of factors that are top priority when launching your plan to build good credit:

  • Your payment history. Repeat this mantra: Pay all bills on time. Pay all bills on time. Pay all bills – you get it. A payment that’s 30 days late or more will cause your score to plummet.
  • Best practice calls for paying off the ENTIRE amount owed on a credit card every month, rather than carrying a balance over from month to month. That’s how interest charges rack up quickly.
  • How much credit you are using: Aim to use 30 percent or less of your available credit at all times. If you have a card with a $3,500 limit, by no means should you go crazy and charge $3,499 worth of purchases.
  • The length of your credit history does come into play, but if you’re only in your 20s, lenders aren’t expecting you to have decades of spending history. They know you didn’t start borrowing and paying back money when you were a toddler.

5 Tips For Building Your Credit Score

1. Talk your parents into letting you become an authorized user on their credit card.

Beg, bribe, cajole, do whatever it takes to get your name onto Dad’s credit card, because this option allows you to benefit from the age of someone else’s account (and we all know how o-l-d Dad is!)

One quick caveat: Be certain that the primary cardholder (Dad) has an excellent track record of making payments. You don’t want to hang on the coattails of someone with their own credit woes!

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What you are looking to avoid… (source)

Also, always be certain and get confirmation that the credit card company reports authorized user activity to the credit bureaus. This is what will pop a positive blip onto your score. You want the activity on the card to spotlight your smart spending as well as Dad’s.

This tip also works for suckering – I mean, convincing – Mom, another family member or even an older friend to let you become an authorized user.

2. Get a secured credit card.

If you didn’t manage to sweet talk the parental units into adding you as an authorized user, go to your bank or credit union for a secured credit card. These require a deposit, which usually runs from $200 to $2000, which becomes, in essence, your line of credit.

As you can imagine, you will need an income to qualify for a secured credit card, but for this type of credit, rules aren’t as stringent as those that apply to obtaining a traditional unsecured card.

Banks and financial institutions that issue secured credit cards have their own rules and regs for where your deposit must be – such as a checking or savings account.

Then – and this is crucial – pay off the balance on the card MONTHLY and ON TIME to avoid late fees and other penalties. Remember, if you’re not showing consistent payments, you’re not building credit, you’re digging yourself into a hole.

Also, do your due diligence and check that reports are made to at least one credit bureau. That’s the only way to ensure your efforts won’t be for naught.

When your score rises into the low 600s, make your best effort to get yourself a conventional credit card. Even though by that time you’ll be playing in the big leagues, keep your wits about you and follow the same best practices for paying off your debt each month to avoid interest and late fees.

3. Get a cosigner.

Ok, so failed on the scheme of becoming an authorized user on Dad’s credit card? Guilt him into this option then. Take out a small loan, say for a standard grade preowned vehicle, and ask that loving family member (who already has good credit) to cosign for you.

A cosigner is simply someone who agrees to be responsible for the loan if you stop paying your bills for any reason. Which, of course, you won’t do.

Most financial institutions will approve a loan for somebody with no credit history IF there is a cosigner boasting a stellar score on the application. But keep in mind, you stand to put your dad’s credit score in the toilet if you default on the loan.

What does default mean? It means you – gasp – stop making payments entirely. Let us say this one more time: If someone cosigns a loan for you and you don’t make timely payments, your cosigner’s credit will suffer along with your own.

If you default on the loan, your cosigner is legally responsible to repay the debt. This situation has ruined plenty of close relationships and broken up even the best of friends. Proceed with caution.

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Getting a loan with a BAD score… (source)

4. Take out a student loan.

You’ll start building a flourishing credit history as soon as you open a student loan account. Every type of student loan, including private, federal and refinance loans, appear on your credit report, and eventually count toward your burgeoning score.

Borrow federal loans first, since they have better borrower protections, like repayment plans strongly based on your income, as well as forgiveness subplans.

More good news: Most don’t even require a credit check.

For starters, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get your application rolling.

Private student loans are based on credit, so most undergrads need a cosigner to qualify. Keep in mind that the loan will appear on both your credit report, as the student, and the cosigner’s simultaneously. Before you take any steps towards applying, shop around. Compare multiple loan options to get the lowest interest rate you can possibly qualify for, then go for it.

After you’ve gotten the diploma and scarfed down the graduation cake and the loan has aged a bit, you can expect to see a score in the 600s. That’s the time to refinance your student loan to get a lower monthly payment and/or a lower interest rate. It also merges multiple loans into one main account. This will also give your score a boost, because you
will have fewer accounts with open balances.

5. Take out a credit builder loan.

Peruse the sites of local community banks and credit unions to see the terms they offer for credit builder loans.

This loan works by stashing away the money you borrow in a savings account. When you take out a credit builder loan, the money you borrow sits in a savings account, which you’ll have access to at the end of the loan term.

You’ll need income to show you can afford the payments, so choose a low loan amount.

As you make on time payments toward the loan, the financial institution reports that activity to the credit bureaus. You’ll end up with better credit and some money saved, making it a win-win.

When your score reaches the mid-600s, you can apply for a traditional, unsecured credit card. If you’re still under 21 at that time, though, you’ll also need to prove that you have a steady income from a full time job.

Final Word On Credit Score

One final tip we just can’t NOT share with you: Once you’ve built your credit history and are ready to drive in the fast lane…be very careful with retail store credit cards. These are frequently the card of choice for novices who lack fundamentals of managing credit.

These cards are offered (read: pushed as a hard sell) at every checkout in every store because they benefit the company so hugely. They have high interest rates, and worse, encourage binge shopping that quickly erases that 20% off perk for applying.

They’re enticing and easy to get because they generally have lower credit limits than major credit cards. What does that mean? It means you’re more likely to get the rubber stamp of approval even with scant credit history.

But don’t be lured in! If you must take out a retail store card, make small purchases and pay off before penalties and interest start stacking up. Sure, it would be nice to outfit the entire fam in GAP apparel at the holidays, but hold back and just get Dad a nice scarf. You owe him, after all, for the co-sign.

Got any credit score tips or horror stories? Comment below…

Webull VS Acorns: Which Is The Better Investing Platform?

Investing Simple is affiliated with Webull and Acorns. This relationship does not influence our opinions of these platforms.

With so many new investing and trading platforms coming to market, it can be difficult to choose which one is the best for you. Recently, a variety of trading platforms have emerged. In this article, we are going to review two of the top trading platforms available today; Acorns and Webull.

Webull vs Acorns
Webull vs Acorns

What Is Webull?

Webull is a commission free stock and ETF trading platform. Webull is designed for the active trader who is looking for a more dynamic user interface. Webull has a variety of features that benefit traders such as technical indicators, research agency ratings, financial calendars and free margin trading as well as short selling. With easy access to margin, research tools, and live data, Webull has built an ideal platform for active traders. Check out our detailed review of Webull here.

Webull is a platform that is designed for the intermediate trader who already has some experience with the stock market. If you are a complete beginner, you might experience information overload. If you are a somewhat experienced trader, Webull will give you all of the data you will likely need.

Webull review investing simple
Webull Trading App

Webull Free Stock Promotion!

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock worth up to $1,000! You don’t need to fund the account to get the stock, you just have to open it.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

Webull Features

Technical Indicators: Webull has a variety of technical indicators available on the platform. You can choose from up to 22 technical indicators such as moving averages, relative strength indexes and more. Here is the full list in our complete Webull review.

Virtual Trading Simulator: Webull has a useful feature called the virtual trading simulator. This feature lets you create a virtual portfolio with fake money to test out strategies before risking real money. This is an ideal feature for someone just starting out, who may need to gain more investing knowledge and know how before investing real money.

Smart Alerts: Webull lets you set a variety of alerts for different holdings. You can be alerted when a price level is hit, or a rate of change has hit a defined level. There are also alerts for volume levels or changes, this can be useful for traders get a sense of where the stock may be headed in the short term.

Financial Calendar: The financial calendar feature keeps you informed on all the latest and upcoming financial news. Important events such as upcoming IPOs, dividend payouts, and earnings releases are all provided to you in a calendar format on the Webull platform.

Margin Trading: Webull allows margin trading on its platform to certain users. You must have a minimum account balance of $2,000 to be approved for margin trading. Below are the margin interest rates charged by Webull…

webull margin investing simple
Webull Margin Rates

After Hours Trading: Webull offers after hours and premarket trading. You can trade securities from 4 am to 8 pm on the Webull platform offering more flexibility in placing trades.

Commission Free Short Selling: There are no trading commissions to short a stock in Webull. Short selling occurs in a margin account, but all trades are completely free.

Who Is Webull For?

Webull is designed for active traders that focus on investment research. Webull provides an array of research tools for both the technical and fundamental investment researchers.

That being said, in most cases this platform is best for those with some prior investment experience. If you are completely new to investing in the stock market, you might be overwhelmed by the number of research tools available to you.

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock worth up to $1,000! You don’t need to fund the account to get the stock, you just have to open it.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

What Is Acorns?

Acorns is an online robo advisor that helps you save and invest a portion of your debit and credit card transactions. Acorns will round your purchases to the next dollar and send the difference to your brokerage account to be invested.

The Acorns platform is simple and aims to help more people begin investing their extra cash. Once the cash is in your account it will be automatically invested into your Acorns portfolio. Acorns is designed to help the forgetful investor who does not remember to contribute or the type of person who would like to invest but has a hard time saving.

Click Here To Get Started With Acorns!

Acorns Features

Acorns Spend: This is an Acorns provided debit card. A checking account that has Acorns built in and will save and invest for you. Fees are $3 per month for Acorns spend.

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Acorns Spend

Acorns Later: Acorns offers Individual Retirement Accounts. Both Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

Acorns Earn: Partnerships with brands and other retailers. Acorns partners include Nike, Apple, Airbnb, Blue Apron, Macy’s, DirecTV, Lyft, Walmart and more. When shopping with an Acorns partner, you can earn an extra 5% to 10% of the transaction in cash back. This cash is then sent to your Acorns brokerage account and invested.

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Acorns Earn

Acorns Grow: On Acorns grow you can access a variety of educational content that will help you learn more about investing and personal finance. Acorns grow aims to educate beginner investors and guide them through the learning process.

What Are The Fees?

The basic Acorns platform known as Acorns Core is $1 per month. This $1 fee is waived for college students. If you want to invest in a retirement account through Acorns, this plan will cost you $2 per month. If you are interested in the Acorns Spend checking account, this will cost you $3 per month.

Click Here To Get Started With Acorns!

What Are The Investments?

Once you create your account, Acorns will ask you a series of questions for your investment objective. You can choose from five different options:

  1. Long Term Investment
  2. Short Term Investment
  3. Major Purchase
  4. Children
  5. General

Once you choose your objective, Acorns will suggest a portfolio that aligns with your investment objective. Portfolios on Acorns were designed by Economist Dr. Harry Markowitz and are based on Modern Portfolio Theory. Each portfolio uses a stock and bond allocation that represents its level of risk. Conservative portfolios hold more bonds which tend to be less volatile when compared to stocks. Aggressive portfolios will hold more stocks which may generate higher returns over time, but are more volatile when compared to bonds. Acorns also offers a variety of Vanguard and iShares ETFs on their platform.

Acorns Portfolio Options

PortfolioStocksBondsReal Estate
Conservative18%80%2%
Moderately Conservative36%60%4%
Moderate54%40%6%
Moderately Aggressive72%20%8%
Aggressive90%0%10%

Who Is Acorns For?

Acorns is a suitable platform for beginner investors who would like to begin saving and investing over time. The biggest advantage Acorns has over other platforms is the automation of micro savings into your brokerage account over time. You may not realize it, but these small amounts add up over time. For other investors who schedule automatic deposits into their investment accounts every week or month, this feature may not be as useful. With Acorns, you are limited to just five prebuilt portfolios. You cannot customize your portfolio or pick individual stocks or ETFs.

Click Here To Get Started With Acorns!

Webull VS Acorns

 WebullAcorns
FeesNone, Commission Free$1 to $3 a month
Fractional SharesNoYes
InvestmentsStocks, ETFs5 Prebuilt Portfolios
CustomizationYesNo
Prebuilt PortfoliosNoYes
Account TypesIndividual TaxableIndividual Taxable, Retirement
Account Minimum$0$5
Research PlatformYesNo
Free Trading SimulatorYesNo

The Verdict

Acorns and Webull are both offering completely different services to the potential investor. Webull offers an intermediate to advanced trading platform geared towards the research oriented active trader. Acorns is offering an automated investment solution to those who are forgetful or have a hard time saving money. If you fall into that category, Acorns might be a better fit for you. If you are interested in researching investments and building your own portfolio, Webull is likely a better fit for you.

Is The Webull Free Stock Promotion Legit? (FREE Stock Worth Up To $1000)

Investing Simple is affiliated with Webull. This relationship does not influence our opinion of this platform.

As I am sure your parents have told you, if something seems too good to be true it probably is. But is this the case with the free stock promotion offered by Webull? They are offering new users a free stock worth up to $1000 just for opening an account with them. You don’t even have to fund the account!

If you aren’t familiar with Webull, here is our full review!

Webull review investing simple
Webull App

Here is what you need to know about the Webull free stock promotion…

During the activity, customers will only get a free stock for opening their first brokerage account with Webull financial LLC. The value of the free stock may be anywhere between $3 and $1000. The price of the stock can fluctuate based on market movements. – Webull Activity Rules

So, you will be getting a free stock worth between $3 and $1000 a share. As I am sure you can imagine, most people are going to get a stock valued closer to $3 than $1000. If you look at the terms and conditions, Webull outlines the odds of receiving a stock of a given value.

The Reward Program Inventory is composed of stocks with a minimum market capitalization of $10 billion and is listed on either the NYSE-listed or NASDAQ-listed markets. The current program inventory is composed of widely held, recognized brand names and consumer & service-related industries. – Webull Terms & Conditions

Here are the odds:

  • 1:1 = $4 a share to $6 a share
  • 1:24 = $10 a share to $20 a share
  • 1:200 = $50 a share to $100 a share
  • 1:333 = $150 to $250 a share
  • 1:1000 = $1,000+ a share

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock worth up to $1,000! You don’t need to fund the account to get the stock, you just have to open it.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

At the end of the day, you are getting a completely free stock for opening an account. Odds are that you will end up with a $4 stock, but you could end up getting a more valuable stock.

You might be wondering what Webull gains from this. Webull is looking to acquire more users and gain market share in the brokerage industry. They are trying to compete with some big players like Robinhood. It is common for brokerages to offer an incentive to people who sign up for new accounts in order to gain market share and build a user base.

Webull makes money through a few different avenues. One of these avenues is offering paid subscriptions to market quotations. For example, if you wanted access to TST Level-1 you would pay them $4.99 a month or $53.99 a year. Webull knows that a certain number of users will be interested in this service, so it is cost effective for them to offer a free stock in order to acquire new customers.

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Webull FINRA & SIPC Member

So, if you are interested in giving it a shot and seeing what stock you get, feel free to use our link below. As mentioned above, this is an affiliate link.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

 

Webull VS Stash: Which Is The Better Investing Platform?

Investing Simple is affiliated with Webull. This relationship does not influence our opinion of this platform.

With so many new investing and trading platforms coming to market, it can be difficult to choose which one is the best for you. Recently, a variety of trading platforms have emerged. In this article, we are going to review two of the top trading platforms available today; Stash and Webull.

Webull vs Stash.png
Webull vs Stash

What Is Webull?

Webull is a commission free stock and ETF trading platform. Webull is designed for the active trader who is looking for a more dynamic user interface. Webull has a variety of features that benefit traders such as technical indicators, research agency ratings, financial calendars and free margin trading as well as short selling. With easy access to margin, research tools, and live data, Webull has built an ideal platform for active traders. Check out our detailed review of Webull here.

Webull is a platform that is designed for the intermediate trader who already has some experience with the stock market. If you are a complete beginner, you might experience information overload. If you are a somewhat experienced trader, Webull will give you all of the data you will likely need.

Webull review investing simple
Webull Trading App

Webull Free Stock Promotion!

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock worth up to $1,000! You don’t need to fund the account to get the stock, you just have to open it.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

Webull Features

Technical Indicators: Webull has a variety of technical indicators available on the platform. You can choose from up to 22 technical indicators such as moving averages, relative strength indexes and more. Here is the full list in our complete Webull review.

Virtual Trading Simulator: Webull has a useful feature called the virtual trading simulator. This feature lets you create a virtual portfolio with fake money to test out strategies before risking real money. This is an ideal feature for someone just starting out, who may need to gain more investing knowledge and know how before investing real money.

Smart Alerts: Webull lets you set a variety of alerts for different holdings. You can be alerted when a price level is hit, or a rate of change has hit a defined level. There are also alerts for volume levels or changes, this can be useful for traders get a sense of where the stock may be headed in the short term.

Financial Calendar: The financial calendar feature keeps you informed on all the latest and upcoming financial news. Important events such as upcoming IPOs, dividend payouts, and earnings releases are all provided to you in a calendar format on the Webull platform.

Margin Trading: Webull allows margin trading on its platform to certain users. You must have a minimum account balance of $2,000 to be approved for margin trading. Below are the margin interest rates charged by Webull…

webull margin investing simple
Webull Margin Rates

After Hours Trading: Webull offers after hours and premarket trading. You can trade securities from 4 am to 8 pm on the Webull platform offering more flexibility in placing trades.

Commission Free Short Selling: There are no trading commissions to short a stock in Webull. Short selling occurs in a margin account, but all trades are completely free.

Who Is Webull For?

Webull is designed for active traders that focus on investment research. Webull provides an array of research tools for both the technical and fundamental investment researchers.

That being said, in most cases this platform is best for those with some prior investment experience. If you are completely new to investing in the stock market, you might be overwhelmed by the number of research tools available to you.

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock worth up to $1,000! You don’t need to fund the account to get the stock, you just have to open it.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

What Is Stash?

Stash is an online trading and investing platform that aims to be simple, easy to use and low cost. You can begin investing in Stash with as little as $5.

Invest with caution, because there is a minimum fee of $1 per month to use Stash. You may want to wait until you have more cash to begin investing.

Stash allows you to invest in a variety of stocks and ETFs on their platform. Stash is not a robo advisor and does not manage your investment account. However, they will provide a platform where you can learn more about investing and view and invest in a variety of prebuilt portfolios.

stash investingsimple.blog 1.jpg
Stash Investing App

Once you have your account open, you will be guided through a questionnaire. Stash will ask a variety of questions to analyze your risk tolerance, investment horizon and personal preferences. Once Stash has an idea of what type of investor you are, they will offer you a variety of portfolios customized to your investment objective. You will build your own portfolio and Stash will make suggestions for which funds should make up the foundation of the portfolio.

Most portfolios on Stash are composed of a group of ETFs as well as a limited number of individual stocks. Stash uses clever names and easy to understand themes for their portfolios such as “American Innovators” “Blue Chips” and “Clean & Green”. Similar to M1 Finance, Stash offers the ability to buy fractional shares of stocks or ETFs. Investors with smaller account balances may benefit from increased diversification when utilizing fractional shares, as you will not be limited to stocks and ETFs with small dollar share values.

stash investingsimple.blog.jpg
Stash Investments

Who Is Stash For?

Stash is a suitable platform for beginner investors, but we believe the fees outweigh the benefits. M1 Finance offers similar prebuilt portfolios to what Stash is offering for free. While the platform is easy to use and get started with, you will likely outgrow it in a short period of time. Stash is designed for mobile users who are looking to invest that have little to no prior investing experience.

Webull VS Stash

 WebullStash
Monthly FeeFree$1/mo* ($2/mo Retirement Accounts)
CommissionFree (Short And Long)Free
Fractional SharesNoYes
Prebuilt PortfoliosNoYes
Account TypesIndividual TaxableIndividual Taxable, Retirement, Custodial
Account Minimum$0$5
InvestmentsStocks, ETFsStocks, ETFs
Research PlatformYesLimited
Free Trading SimulatorYesNo

*To use stash there is a minimum fee of $1 per month for accounts below $5,000, and 0.25% annual fee on accounts greater than $5,000. There is also a $2/month fee for retirement accounts (this fee is waived if you are 25 or younger).

The Verdict

The research tools and number of investments available on Stash are quite limited. You will have more options for research tools and investments with Webull or M1 Finance. On top of that, these platforms are free whereas Stash is charging $1 a month and $2 a month for retirement accounts. In our opinion, there are better options out there than the Stash investment platform.

 

Best Free Investing Platform? (Webull VS M1 Finance 2018)

Investing Simple is affiliated with Webull and M1 Finance. This relationship does not influence our opinions of these platforms.

With so many new investing and trading platforms coming to market it can be difficult to choose which one is the best for you. Recently, a variety of commission free trading platforms have emerged. In this article, we are going to review two of the top trading platforms available today; M1 Finance and Webull.

Webull vs M1.png
Webull vs M1 Finance

What Is Webull?

Webull is a commission free stock and ETF trading platform. Webull is designed for the active trader who is looking for a more dynamic user interface. Webull has a variety of features that benefit traders such as technical indicators, research agency ratings, financial calendars and free margin trading as well as short selling. With easy access to margin, research tools, and live data, Webull has built an ideal platform for active traders. Check out our detailed review of Webull here.

Webull is a platform that is designed for the intermediate trader who already has some experience with the stock market. If you are a complete beginner, you might experience information overload. If you are a somewhat experienced trader, Webull will give you all of the data you will likely need.

Webull review investing simple
Webull Trading App

Webull Free Stock Promotion!

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock worth up to $1,000! You don’t need to fund the account to get the stock, you just have to open it.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

Webull Features

Technical Indicators: Webull has a variety of technical indicators available on the platform. You can choose from up to 22 technical indicators such as moving averages, relative strength indexes and more. Here is the full list in our complete Webull review.

Virtual Trading Simulator: Webull has a useful feature called the virtual trading simulator. This feature lets you create a virtual portfolio with fake money to test out strategies before risking real money. This is an ideal feature for someone just starting out, who may need to gain more investing knowledge and know how before investing real money.

Smart Alerts: Webull lets you set a variety of alerts for different holdings. You can be alerted when a price level is hit, or a rate of change has hit a defined level. There are also alerts for volume levels or changes, this can be useful for traders get a sense of where the stock may be headed in the short term.

Financial Calendar: The financial calendar feature keeps you informed on all the latest and upcoming financial news. Important events such as upcoming IPOs, dividend payouts, and earnings releases are all provided to you in a calendar format on the Webull platform.

Margin Trading: Webull allows margin trading on its platform to certain users. You must have a minimum account balance of $2,000 to be approved for margin trading. Below are the margin interest rates charged by Webull…

webull margin investing simple
Webull Margin Rates

After Hours Trading: Webull offers after hours and premarket trading. You can trade securities from 4 am to 8 pm on the Webull platform offering more flexibility in placing trades.

Commission Free Short Selling: There are no trading commissions to short a stock in Webull. Short selling occurs in a margin account, but all trades are completely free.

Who Is Webull For?

Webull is designed for active traders that focus on investment research. Webull provides an array of research tools for both the technical and fundamental investment researchers.

That being said, in most cases this platform is best for those with some prior investment experience. If you are completely new to investing in the stock market, you might be overwhelmed by the number of research tools available to you.

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock worth up to $1,000! You don’t need to fund the account to get the stock, you just have to open it.

Click Here To Open An Account With Webull!

What Is M1 Finance?

M1 Finance was launched in 2016 and is an online robo advisor and brokerage hybrid for everyday people who want to invest in stocks or exchange traded funds (ETFs). M1 Finance combines features of a traditional brokerage account with a modern robo advisor. First, you select your investments and your allocations. Then, you automate the entire portfolio! Check out our detailed review of M1 Finance here.

M1 Finance focuses on low cost passive investing with additional features such as automatic rebalancing, professionally built portfolios and tax minimization strategies. The only fees you pay are the fees associated with any ETFs you invest in. M1 Finance is a completely free investing platform!

Click Here To Get Started With M1 Finance!

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M1 Finance App

How Does M1 Finance Work?

M1 Finance operates by creating portfolios of stocks and ETFs called “Pies”. Each pie can be customized meaning you can choose specific stocks and ETFs that you want to add. For example, you could build a pie with 50% Tesla stock and 50% Google stock.

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M1 Finance Pies

Within each pie, you can have up to 100 stocks or ETFs. Each can carry a different weight in the portfolio. There is no limit on the number of pies you can have in your M1 Finance account! For example, you could have one growth oriented pie and one income oriented pie in your M1 Finance account.

There are also prebuilt pies that M1 Finance has created based upon the amount of risk you would like to take, investment time horizon, and personal preferences. These are called expert pies.

It is important to understand that these portfolios or expert pies are not tailored to any one person. Each investor has a unique set of circumstances. If you want a personalized portfolio, you should consider a robo advisor like Betterment or a financial advisor. Betterment is another cutting edge platform that saves investors money by leveraging technology.

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M1 Finance Expert Pies

Most investing platforms charge an asset management fee in exchange for any kind of investment guidance. M1 Finance offers these prebuilt pies for free. They do not charge any fees outside of the ETF expense ratio. This is an expense you pay regardless of what platform you invest with.

M1 Finance also allows you to buy fractional shares of a corporation within your pie. For example, if your M1 Finance account had a total of $1,000 in it, but you would like to buy a share of Amazon for $1,885.60 then you would be offered a fractional share of Amazon to hold in your portfolio valued at $1,000 or less depending on its weight in your pie. With fractional shares, you can buy as little as 1/10,000th of a share!

Who Is M1 Finance For?

M1 Finance has a great platform for long term investors. In most cases, the ideal user for M1 Finance is someone who is a somewhat passive investor, relatively fee sensitive and does not want to spend a significant time managing their investments. M1 Finance offers a greater amount of flexibility because you can choose exactly what you invest in. With other robo advisors, you are limited to a handful of ETFs.

M1 Finance is also a great platform for dividend investors. Your dividends will automatically be reinvested back into your portfolio once the cash balance exceeds $10. Other free investing platforms like Robinhood and Webull do not offer any kind of automated dividend reinvestment. Typical brokerage accounts that offer dividend reinvestment and fractional shares charge a fee for this service.

Click Here To Get Started With M1 Finance!

Webull VS M1 Finance

 WebullM1 Finance
Commission Free TradingYesYes
Margin TradingYesYes
Prebuilt PortfoliosNoYes, Expert Pies
Account TypesIndividual TaxableIndividual Taxable, Joint, Traditional, Retirement, Trust
Account Minimum$0$100
Short SellingYes, Commission FreeNo
Technical IndicatorsYesNo
Virtual Trading SimulatorYesNo
InvestmentsStocks, ETFsStocks, ETFs
Tax Efficient SellingNoYes
Portfolio AutomationNoYes
Dividend ReinvestmentNoYes
Fractional SharesNoYes

The Verdict

M1 Finance and Webull are both very powerful investing platforms. A decade ago these types of platforms would only be offered by the best and most advanced investment companies. Now with so many platforms available to the retail investor, people have a wide variety of options to choose from.

We believe M1 Finance and Webull offer two different services that each meet its own target user. In most cases, M1 Finance is a good platform for someone who is investing for the long term and using a relatively passive investing approach. Whereas Webull fits best with more of an active trading style. Investors who use technical indicators and those who need to make more frequent trades would be better off using the Webull platform. In the end, both platforms are free so you can always give both a try and see which is best for you!

LendingClub United MileagePlus Rewards Partnership: Earn 40,000 Miles!

Investing Simple is affiliated with LendingClub. This relationship does not influence our opinion of these platforms.

Everyone loves a discount or deal, especially when we are spending a significant amount of money on a purchase. Now, LendingClub and United have teamed up in providing a rewards program for its mutual users. This means that you can earn up to 40,000 miles in the United MileagePlus rewards program when you take out a LendingClub loan.

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LendingClub United MileagePlus Promotion

LendingClub and MileagePlus have partnered up in providing a great offer to its customers. In the United MileagePlus program, 40,000 miles is the equivalent value of a round trip plane ticket anywhere within North America. If you are already thinking about taking out a loan, this promotion may be a good option for you.

You can earn 1 MileagePlus mile for each dollar borrowed in LendingClub, up to 40,000 miles. This means anyone who takes out a LendingClub loan, no matter the size, has the ability to earn MileagePlus miles.

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LendingClub United MileagePlus Promotion

Not only can you use MileagePlus miles for United flights, but you can also use your earned miles on other United partnered airlines. Miles are not limited to airlines, you can also use your miles for hotels, cruises, rental cars, Broadway shows, gift cards, restaurants, and other shopping experiences. United MileagePlus partners with many other companies to offer a wide variety of options for your MileagePlus miles.

This promotion is available to current MileagePlus members as well as those eligible. You have the option to link your MileagePlus account to your LendingClub account online or by phone. Once the money for your loan has been deposited to your bank account MileagePlus will post your award miles 6 to 8 weeks after.

Here are some of the requirements for the promotion…

  • You must submit your loan application through the MileagePlus promotion page or by phone. Loan applications not submitted through those methods, as well as prior loans issued through LendingClub, are not eligible for this promotion.

  • You must be a current MileagePlus program member at the time you apply for the loan and the loan is issued through LendingClub. Your MileagePlus account must be linked to your LendingClub account before you receive your loan.

  • You may be eligible to participate if you apply jointly with someone else for a loan through LendingClub, but only one of the joint applicants can receive the promotion miles.

LendingClub and United MileagePlus have teamed up in providing a valuable offer to its users. If you are already thinking about taking out a LendingClub loan, this promotion may be a great benefit to you.

Click here to get started with LendingClub!

21 Ways To Make Some Extra Money In College!

So, you’re in college – congrats! By investing in yourself, you’re taking a great step forward in securing your financial future. Trouble is, though, until that point when you’re out in the real world launching that lucrative career…. you’re flat broke.

Don’t lose any sleep over your current money probs. There are plenty of ways to bridge the gap between where you are, and where you want to be.

Here are 21 suggestions for rolling in the dough – ok, at least fattening your wallet – while you’re in college.

1. Drive for Uber or Lyft.

This wildly popular avenue to potentially high earnings is sweeping the nation, putting people in the driver’s seat of setting their own sked and working independently.

Sure, there are requirements, such as a vehicle that’s not a clunker, but once you jump through a few hoops, you will be up and running.

Driving for Uber or Lyft lets you work when you want. You simply turn off your availability through the networks and get back to your studies on business administration, art history, or what have you.

With would-be customers clamoring for rides day and night, you can pick up fares around the clock.

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Uber App

2. Sell unwanted and unused items online.

It’s an old adage that still holds water: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. That guitar you haven’t picked up since your high school days, the perfectly good laptop that’s accumulating dust, or the tux you bought for prom because it was just as cheap as renting could be gold for someone else. Go on Craig’s or eBay and list your junk, er, items, alongside stellar photographs and watch the deals roll in.

Want to take this a step further? Ask a few of your friends, particularly the lazy ones, if they want you to sell some stuff for them online. Sell items for your friend online and keep a cut for yourself!

3. Design websites for small businesses.

Admit it, you have a flair for design and secretly love playing on the computer with color, fonts and logos. There are zillions of small businesses out there that don’t have the budget to have a web expert on staff, and some of them don’t even realize the potential for growth leveraged by a solid site and memorable logo and branding.

Finding these hidden gems is simple enough: Google businesses near you in an area of interest, say, dog groomers, or chiropractors or clowns who do birthday balloon sculptures. Compose a generic pitch outlining your skills, then personalize it to their niche and get that message out there. You can crank out a dozen emails in less than 10 minutes while your college student staple dinner – boxed mac and cheese – is boiling.

Create some sample logos for anywhere – doesn’t matter if you’ve been paid to craft them or not – and ask every new client for testimonials. Also ask for recommendations, and watch business grow through word-of-mouth.

4. Tutor other students over Skype.

You can tutor a ton of kids of all ages without ever leaving campus. Put your natural acuity for algebra, or that high school Spanish you mastered to work and you will find lots of struggling students looking for help.

Nailed your college essay? Critiqued the works of Shakespeare? Find your strong points and make the most of them! You can also offer tutoring to international students of all levels in math, history or English.

5. Take care of pets for others.

Sure, there are dog walkers out there, but how many are willing to roll up their sleeves and give Fido a bath? Hand out business cards and stuff flyers in neighborhood mail boxes offering a full range of services. Some work-obsessed people have even been known to look for others to play with their dogs (they call it “socialization”) during busy weekdays.

If you can manage more than one leash, walk several at a time! Throw a galvanized tub in the back of your car with some dog shampoo and offer on-site scrubbing for dogs of all sizes and breeds. Or invest in a brush and offer to comb out snarls. Or clippers to trim nails. You get the idea.

If you’re a true pet enthusiast, people will pay big bucks for your care and attention to their pups.

6. Plan parties and events for others.

Speaking of work-obsessed people, many parents today lack the time and patience to plan a children’s birthday party at the local bowling alley, play place or even their own backyard.

Suggest a theme, shop for paper goods, hire that clown, order the cake. Extras could include personally designed invitations, tracking RSVPs, and taking photos/videos of the event itself.

7. Become a personal shopper or assistant.

No, we are not talking about someone who buys clothes for a wealthier person. Amazon has cornered that market. We mean everything from a trip to the grocery store to a run to the dry cleaner to delivering outgoing mail to the post office.

Perhaps a better title would be “errand assistant.” Grocery stores charge high premiums for assembling items off a list and getting them bagged and ready. You can do this for people, and add the service of convenient home delivery. Along with a standard charge, you may even get tips.

Try apartment complexes near campus for starters and watch business take off.

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Woman Shopping, Pixabay

8. General car service and maintenance.

Think hard about things required by car owners who have no time or inclination to do them.

Start a part-time business installing new windshield wipers, helping out with flat tires or even changing oil at customers’ homes.

9. Driving instructor or tutor.

Speaking of cars, this is one of those required parenting tasks that many people do not look forward to at all.

Make sure your parallel parking skills are up to snuff, then advertise driving lessons to teens. Check with your insurance carrier first, of course, but this is a niche side hustle that isn’t as well known yet but would be very sought after and propel your earnings into high speed.

10. Create and sell an online course.

Ready to demonstrate how to write the perfect resume? Knit a sweater? Read tarot cards? Buy a car? Balance a checkbook?

If you’re an expert (or willing to do the footwork and become an expert) on any topic, you can create an online course to teach others your skills.

Setting up the curriculum requires a time commitment, as does marketing your course, but once it’s up and running, you’ll earn passive income based on the number of students.

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Course Creation Companion, Free Online Course Guide!

Ryan Scribner, one of the site authors, offers a free course all about building a successful online course or membership site. You can enroll here!

This is one of the best ways to make passive income. Once the course is completed, you just collect the payments! Hosting sites like Teachable will handle the rest. There are countless examples of people who are making $100,000 or more with an online course.

Take Tai Lopez for example. In this video, Tanner J. Fox estimates that he does close to $90,000,000 a year in revenue from his online courses and coaching!

11. Manage social media accounts for small businesses.

Investing Simple is affiliated with Kevin David.

Many people don’t know the difference between a Tweet and a Facebook post, or what Instagram even involves. Whether they want to learn these skills for a small business or for keeping in touch with family and friends, you can use your knowledge and experience with social media to teach others lacking understanding and practice. There are plenty of technology shy people out there too embarrassed to ask for help but willing to work privately with someone who knows their stuff. Leverage the social media know how you already have into a great consulting gig!

Check out this video to learn more about how you can make money through social media marketing. Here is the free training link.

12. Babysit or become a part time nanny.

Gone are the days when an evening of watching kids sent you home with a $20 bill.

These days, parents will pay a premium for a trusted, responsible person to babysit. Ditto for a part-time nanny, which usually includes your meals. You might want to register with a reputable child care company online that pre-screens everyone and will help get your foot in the door.

13. Launch your own blog. (Like we did!)

This will require some initial time invested, but hey, if you love to write it won’t be difficult to churn out blogs about anything and everything.

Get blogs up and running, then pitch your services to small local businesses who aren’t yet up to speed with social media and the attention it can command. Find a niche market, thoroughly research your subject matter, then spend a few hours a night at your keyboard. Always ask everyone on your client list to refer you to other business owners.

You may even want to attach a perk to referrals, such as 5 free blog articles if a referral proves fruitful. Now get typing!

14. Write an eBook and sell it on Amazon.

While you’re polishing your writing skills and becoming an expert on a niche topic, expand on your word count and create an eBook.

Selling books via Amazon is a stellar start to earning passive income. That means you’re making money without active work on your part once the initial time investment is made. Your eBook could be selling while you sleep!

The eBooks cost nothing to produce since they sidestep the traditional publishing process, and makes you money based on sales. Talk it up among family, friends, your parent’s neighbors, distant cousins, anyone you can think of who will support your work. Ask for testimonials touting the eBook as clearly the next best seller. Who knows, a publisher may get wind of your book and pick it up for paperback publication.

One caveat: always have your manuscript professionally edited and proofread, because you’re only as good as your work is concise, accurate and grammatically on point.

15. Become a personal chef or baker.

Love to cook? Have a ton of recipes from your Grandma? Able to bake (and decorate!) fancy cakes? This could be the money-maker for you. Get word out about your small business, then whip up samples for hungry prospective clients.

It would be wise to stick to your strong points rather than taking on something new, but that gives you the opportunity to market yourself as The Pasta King, or The Cupcake Lady. Once you’ve gained confidence and compliments, set up cooking classes for small groups of novices. Most high schools and veteran’s organizations have commercial sized kitchens where you can teach people everything from omelets to chicken marsala to red velvet cake (hungry yet?) It’s amazing how much people will pay to watch other people cook for them, so give this side hustle a try, from soup to nuts.

16. Wash and detail cars.

Taking a vehicle through a commercial car wash comes at a high cost for a little soap and water and some turbo brushes. You can pay an average of $15 for a simple, no frills wash and dry. But nothing beats a good old hand wash and buffing to dry. Get your name out there, then make a small investment of gas for your own car and go wash vehicles on-site. Add waxing services, then take pics of your finished work for advertising purposes. Bonus: you’ll be working outside, which is a great contrast to the college dorm or library or lab.

17. Become a mystery shopper.

This income option isn’t well known, but many mid to large size companies offer mystery shopping gigs. Mystery shoppers blend in with customers and make transactions, including buying and return, then provide feedback about the retailer. This can be done at a physical store, or if you’re lucky and look hard enough, you can get shopping jobs at an online store. Google “Mystery shopping” to start, or if you really want to put yourself out there, contact companies and pitch your mystery shopping services. Restaurants also use this service, and many offer free meals!

18. Clean homes and offices.

Another ideal side hustle because this can be done at night. Cleaning offices can be as simple as vacuuming and taking out trash! Pop in earbuds and zone out; the work will be done before you know it. There’s a huge demand for house cleaners, and this can be done around your class schedule. Most people have cleaning products at their houses, so all you need is energy and motivation, and maybe a couple friends to get the jobs done quickly. Most cleaning services come with a hefty price tag. Find out what the going rate is in your area, then go 10% lower to reel in more customers.

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Cleaning Floor With A Mop

19. Write cover letters and resumes.

You will be doing your own resume soon when looking for a job post-graduation, so why not hone your skills while helping others? Many people freeze up and get writer’s block when it comes to composing cover letters and resumes. You can start with a template then work in the details for each client. Take the time to consult with clients first (electronically) so you have a good working knowledge of their strengths, accomplishments and career goals. This will also help you organize your own resume that will stand out from the sea of applicants.

20. Flip cars on Craigslist or other marketplaces.

One of the best ways to make some extra side money is flipping cars. If you know what you are looking for, you can find great deals on used cars online. This is usually a result of a seller needing to get rid of a car that day for some reason. While you should be mechanically inclined, this can be a great way to make some extra side income!

Check out this video here. These guys flipped a 2007 Toyota Camry for a hefty profit of $1,000! You can too.

21. Build a following on Instagram and make money.

Investing Simple is affiliated with Online CEOs by Josue Pena.

Use what you do every day to your advantage. There are so many businesses getting left behind because they don’t know how to use social media. If you are able to help businesses with their social media and get them more customers, they will pay you massive sums of money.

Take Josue Pena for example, he has a social media marketing agency that does close to $100,000 per month in revenue. It took Josue months to learn the ins and outs of social media, but now clients all over the world pay him for his expertise.

Here is a video that talks about his social media marketing agency.

Click here for a free Instagram training guide by Josue Pena!

Become an expert on Instagram and other social media platforms, then go look around where you live for local businesses you think could use some help. Take over their social media, and get them more customers while earning a monthly retainer in return.

Once you become too busy, hire an employee or outsource the work to someone overseas! This business is very easy to scale.

Got a money making idea for college students? Comment below!

Making Money On LendingClub: When Do You Get Paid?

Investing Simple is affiliated with LendingClub. This relationship does not influence our opinion of these platforms.

LendingClub is a peer to peer lending platform that allows investors to earn interest by lending money to borrowers. LendingClub provides a medium of exchange between borrowers looking to take out loans and investors looking to lend money. This new method of lending takes the bank out of the picture, allowing individual investors to benefit and earn monthly cash flow from the notes they invest in.

Looking to learn more? Check out our full review of LendingClub.

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How LendingClub Works

How Does LendingClub Work?

Peer to peer lending is an alternative lending process that takes a new approach to traditional borrowing and lending. With peer to peer lending, you are essentially taking the middleman out of the picture. Lenders will directly lend money to borrowers who apply for a loan. Borrowers then pay back their loan over time, paying both interest and principle with each payment to the lender.

To reduce risk, each investor on LendingClub has the option to invest a minimum of $25 in each note. The investor may then purchase 40 or more notes in order to diversify their portfolio and reduce risk. This will allow investors to spread risk across a number of notes. Rather than lending one person one thousand dollars, you will lend 40 different people $25 each. This greatly reduces the risk for the investor in the case the borrower defaults on their loan. This is similar to diversifying investments in the stock market. You don’t want to have all of your eggs in one basket!

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LendingClub Diversification Explained

LendingClub gives you the option to use their automated investing tool to match your risk with your optimal portfolio. Automated strategies allow you to invest in preset strategies that align with your investor profile. You may also choose to manually choose your notes creating strategies based off of loan grade, interest rates, or borrower criteria.

When Do I Get Paid On LendingClub?

LendingClub notes are installment based loans meaning borrowers must pay interest and principle back monthly. These monthly payments made by borrowers mean that investors will receive payments on a monthly basis as well. It is important for investors to understand that with each payment they are receiving a portion of their initial principle investment as well as interest earned for that period. Investors who want to maximize their return may want to reinvest their principle in order to keep earning interest on their capital.

Click here to get started with LendingClub!

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LendingClub Notes Explained

What Happens If Borrowers Don’t Pay?

LendingClub collects the majority of monthly payments by automatic electronic transfers directly out of the borrower’s bank account. Once the funds are available, the funds are withdrawn out of the borrowers account, then sent to LendingClub, and finally disbursed to the individual owners of the notes.

If a borrower fails to make a monthly payment then LendingClub’s collection team will reach out to the borrower the same day via telephone, email and letter. If the borrower fails to respond then LendingClub will evaluate their best course of action for collecting and bringing the account current. Once the payment is 30 days delinquent then LendingClub will turn the account over to their external collections agency. This agency has more resources and will make efforts to contact the borrower and learn information about changes in information or recent locations. External collections may negotiate with the borrower to structure a new payment plan, or they may take further legal action to collect the amount owed.

Once the Note is 121 days past due then it officially enters Default Status. Once the note is in default a Charge Off will occur within 150 days past due (no later than 30 days after it has reached default status). Once the note is charged off, the remaining principle will be deducted from your account balance. Bankruptcies may be charged off at the time LendingClub is notified of the bankruptcy. LendingClub adheres to the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) which ensures collectors use fair and non-harassive collections policies.

Click here to get started with LendingClub!

17 Huge Financial Mistakes To Avoid In Your 20’s

You’re in your 20s and looking to make smart financial decisions; congratulations! There are so many pitfalls out there, mistakes everyone makes at one time or another during their life. That said, now’s the time to understand and be on the lookout for money mishaps that can easily be made in your 20s…and beyond! Check out the following 17 no-no’s, and consider yourself smarter.

1. Spending too much money.

It seems simple enough: Never spend more than you take home in your pay check. But it’s easy to fall into this trap when you’re not tracking your expenses down to the penny. Always remember to live within your means!! Sure, it’s nice to buy a round of drinks for friends on Friday night, but how much is that going to cost, and what kind of dent will it make in your monthly budget? Which leads to the next point…

2. Not setting and following a budget.

This is imperative and should be the first step once you are out in the working world. Make a complete list of EVERY expense you will encounter, right down to incidentals like laundromat quarters, bus tokens or having one draft beer after work. Add everything up and see how it compares to your monthly income. Certain expenses are fixed, such as rent/mortgage, utility bills for electricity, cable/WIFI, gym membership, etc. Other expenses are something you have control over, including groceries, clothing, grooming and entertainment. What does this mean? You can (and need to) set a fixed amount you will spend monthly in these categories. Then – and this is key – STAY WITHIN THOSE LIMITS!

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Budgeting, Max Pixel

3. Comparing yourself to others.

This will bring nothing but trouble. Envy is an emotion to which we can all relate. Your friend, neighbor or co-worker may have the best car on the market, a fabulous home, take luxury vacations, but here’s the thing: you have no way of knowing HOW they’re amassing these things. Could be, they are spending money they don’t have. If they’re plunking down the old credit card for purchases, this won’t serve them well in the long run. In fact, it’s one of the worst financial decisions people make, no matter what their age and income. The lesson here is to be satisfied with what you have. Spend more time being grateful and less time being envious!

4. Not setting financial goals for yourself.

This is imperative for both short- and long-term goals. Maybe you want to buy a new cell, outfit your home with new furniture, or save enough to invest in a stock portfolio. You need a plan with precise steps on how you can make that happen. Remember, it won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without a lot of pre-planning. Set aside a very specific amount of your earnings each month towards these goals, and stick to it. Don’t be deterred by instant gratification items like a 4-Star dinner or weekend at the casino…these will put you right off your path and your sound financial plan. It’s important to WRITE DOWN your goals and how you will meet them. Consider them written in concrete, and don’t modify them. Before you know it, you will have reached that financial goal and be making smarter money decisions as a direct result.

5. Not keeping track of where your money is going.

Track, track, track every dollar you spend. Get a notebook and write it down, or better yet, develop a spreadsheet to monitor every purchase and expense. You may be surprised by what you find out about your spending habits! Sure, it’s cheap to buy a $2.99 movie on Netflix, but if you’re doing it to binge watch your faves every weekend, it will add up, even though it seems like nothing major. One of the most common expenses people do not track is dining and entertainment. Even if you split the bill with friends, that night of beer and wings will add up. Ditto for Amazon purchases like new kicks or protein shakes. See if there are less costly ways to have these items than spending money on a regular basis. Buy fresh produce and yogurt and make your own smoothies. Wear your Nikes one more season. You get the idea.

6. Not being realistic.

You need to be brutally honest with yourself about your finances and expenses. Sure, you may make a pledge to yourself to never eat out, but if you’re starving and there’s nothing in the fridge, or if you have to join a colleague for a business lunch, this will break that rule. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. For example, vow to buy groceries and bring your lunch to work most days of the week. Learn to cook some simple meals like tacos and burgers and make dinner on weekdays. Give yourself a break Saturday night and get takeout or order in from Grubhub.

7. Living off credit cards.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the vast majority of people have credit card debt that will take years, if not decades, to pay off. Most of the temptations to buy on credit are for instant gratification items (think: not groceries, which are needs instead of wants) that won’t bring much enjoyment when you start seeing the interest adding up. If you absolutely can’t avoid making a purchase on credit, pay off the balance immediately, and don’t even think about paying the minimum amount monthly. A better bet than using any plastic – including debit cards – is to use old fashioned hard cold cash. Studies show when you pay in cash, you’re less likely to overspend than when you don’t have to hand over your hard-earned dollars. Even better, put a precise amount of cash your wallet (money clip, whatever), and spend not a penny more than you have allotted for the entire weekend. Well, maybe a penny more, but you get the idea.

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Credit Card Spending, Max Pixel

8. Not having an emergency or rainy day fund.

Yea, so you’re 25, what could happen, right? Think again. Emergencies can happen to anyone at any time. Your car breaks down. You twist an ankle at the gym and have medical bills. Your basement floods. Your work hours are cut back. These are worst case scenarios for sure, but the point is, you need a cache of cash to tide you over. Experts recommend having a savings of 3 month’s salary in emergency funds.  Save it, don’t spend it.

9. Not starting a side hustle.

We know you work full-time. And we know you need down time. But there must be a few throw-away hours each week when you allow yourself to do…nothing. Get motivated and get moving! A side hustle could bring in hundreds of dollars more per month, and you might even enjoy it. Walk dogs, rake lawns, personal shop, wash cars, do whatever sounds interesting and maybe even fun. Find a niche need and fill it. Who knows, you might find that entrepreneurial spirit that has lain dormant ever since you quit selling Boy Scout popcorn door-to-door.

Looking for some side hustle ideas? Here is our list.

10. Believing your own financial lies.

This has something to do with superstition. For example, if you leave a bill in the mailbox or don’t open the envelope, then the bill doesn’t exist, right? Many people fall into this state of denial about their expenses and, as a coping mechanism, pretend debt isn’t there. If you’ve made a budget (see #2 on this list) and are doing your absolute best to stick to it, you should have a very good idea what’s inside those envelopes and how you’ve allotted for it. When you spend within your budget, there won’t be any surprises, and you can safely check your bank statement by email without going into shock.

11. Allowing student loans to stop you in your tracks.

Granted, college tuition is through the roof. But if you’re in your 20s, you will never have the time and energy again to pursue higher education. So, take advantage of the opportunity. Live off campus, go to a community college, then transfer those credits to a four-year college. Buy used books and eat Ramen Noodles. Take classes part-time while you maintain a full-time job. Forego sleep if you must. Research and apply for scholarships based on income and also on merit. Do your best to avoid student loans, which will need to be repaid with interest.

Consider pursuing your degree an investment in your own future. Aim for a better paying career that will motivate you to work hard and excel. Your 20s are a great time to further your education, and there are many ways out there to do it without digging yourself into a financial ditch.

12. Putting off saving for your retirement.

The sooner you start stashing money away into a 401(k) or other retirement account, the better. You want to give your money optimal time to accumulate interest and build up a nest egg that will benefit you in your old age (yes, you will be old one day).

Financial experts recommend squirreling away around 10 percent of your income starting in your 20s. It’s not a huge stretch for you right now, and it will pay off remarkably to your future self.

If you are ready to get started with investing, check out our beginner’s guide.

13. Not working on building good credit.

Having an excellent credit score will be an enormous benefit in all your financial endeavors. You will need it to rent an apartment, buy a car, get a loan or take out a mortgage. Start with a single credit card and pay off the entire balance monthly. Never miss a payment or pay a late fee. Stay well within your credit limit. For example, if your limit is $7,500, resist the urge to rack up $7,499 in charges! Keep it low and pay it off immediately to build a good credit history. Also, avoid opening too many accounts at one time. It’s much easier to keep track of one account and will reign in your utilization as well. This leads to the next item to avoid….

Check out this video by Honest Finance about how to build your credit score.

14. Not checking or knowing your credit score.

As you know from all the commercials, there are plenty of free credit score sites that take literally seconds to pull up your number. Knowing where you stand is key to your overall financial well-being. If your score is low, take immediate steps to improve it. If it’s good, put all your energy into maintaining it. Challenge your friends to see who has the best score. Loser buys beer. Actually, loser might not be able to afford beer.

15. Not taking smart risks.

You’re young, probably single, and it’s a great time to grab life and see where it takes you. Smart risks are things like moving to a new area with better job opportunities, launching your own business, or furthering your education. In a few short years, you will likely have far more weighty responsibilities on your shoulders (think marriage, mortgage, kids). Now is the time to take that leap – but make it a smart, calculated risk. We’re not saying quit your day job to become a stand-up comedian. Maybe just add the comedy as a side hustle (see #6).

16. Skipping renters insurance.

A wise fortune cookie once said, always expect the unexpected. Renter’s insurance may seem frivolous…until the ceiling leaks and ruins your leather sofa, a freak lightning storm fries your computer or television, or a break-in results in losing your jewelry. For the small monthly cost, renter’s insurance pays you back a thousand times fold in security that it’s there when you need it.

17. Having no health insurance.

OK, so maybe the last time you had a cold was 2010. But who knows, you could forget to get the vaccine and come down with the flu and need a doctor’s visit. Twist a wrist at the gym and need an x-ray. Even a single visit to a walk-in emergency clinic could rack up charges quickly, or worse, you might be tempted not to seek medical care. Don’t play this risky game. Invest in low-cost health insurance and for goodness sake, get that flu shot.

Do you know of any financial traps that didn’t make the list? Comment below!