40 Money Habits Every Black Woman Over 40 Needs
These savvy steps that save money, slash debt and protect your assets take as little as 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
- Use a savings app to round up purchases and funnel that “change” into a savings or micro-investing account.
- Create a financial vision board. Spend 10 minutes weekly pinning inspiring digital images that reflect your savings goals (new car, home, retirement, etc.).
- Schedule 10-minute “money buddy” talks. Swap savings ideas weekly with a friend or relative as an accountability partner.
- Review your restaurant and delivery costs. Most of us spend more than we think. Spend 10 minutes monthly to target savings.
- Cancel unwanted subscriptions. Many service, content and retail providers bill us monthly. Take 10 minutes each month to review them, including sneaky auto-renewal payments.
- Shop your closet. Spend 15 minutes creating new outfits and purging unused garments. You’ll see what you have — and avoid buying duplicates!
- Prune your budget. Each month, pick one item to trim or eliminate.
- Mark your calendar for Dec. 1 to give unused items to charity. Donations made by year-end can give you a nice tax deduction.
- Comparison shop utilities. For the best deal on cable TV, internet or other services, take 15 minutes once a year to call competitors and explore savings.
- Set up alerts to avoid overdraft fees, plus keep daily tabs on your spending and cash balances. Download your bank or credit union’s app to start.
- Track supermarket sales cycles. Shelf-stable items tend to go on sale every six weeks. Take five minutes each trip to update your price journal, and you’ll know when to stock up.
- Pay yourself first. Request the human resources (HR) form needed to have automatic savings deposits deducted each pay period.
- Set up overdraft protection. Learn your options for avoiding fees.
- Max out your 401(k) to shrink your tax bill and grow your money faster. Inquire with HR. The update takes about five minutes.
- Pick out a financial book. Here’s a list of empowering reads. Reserve one on your library’s app or website.
- Repeat to yourself, “I only buy what I need,” when tempted to pay for extras or impulse purchases.
- Open your mail without fail. Even if you can’t pay the bill, knowledge is power. Know the interest rate, payoff date, loan status (active, in deferment or forbearance) and contact information for all your loans.
- Decrease debt anxiety. Schedule 15 minutes a week to journal thoughts, feelings and debt-reduction goals.
- Review credit card statements. Every month, spend 10 minutes to make sure you’re not billed for phantom charges, erroneous amounts or things you meant to cancel.
- Opt-in for special perks. Many rewards credit cards rotate spending bonuses or cash-back deals. Do a five-minute online check for the newest offers around the first of each month.
- Calculate your debt-to-income ratio. It’s a good gauge of your financial health, so take 10 minutes to calculate it monthly.
- Add an extra amount to the minimum monthly payment on your debts.
- Set a reminder each Nov. 1, before you make holiday charges, to ask your credit card companies for lower interest rates.
- Circle these dates to dump debt faster. In certain months, you take home five weekly paychecks instead of four. That’s a boon when paying down balances. For the rest of 2021, that will be in October and December. Find dates through 2029 (plus information for biweekly earners) here.
- Transfer high-rate balances to another card with a zero percent APR. Learn how.
- Stop the clock on dated debt. Your state bars lenders from suing for collection past a statute of limitations — if you know what simple steps to take. Take five minutes to get the facts here.
- Make a purchase with those little-used cards in the back of your wallet to avoid getting cut off by issuers. Set an annual reminder.
- Avoid the temptation. Safely store away credit cards on any day you want to avoid what researchers suggest is a craving to spend.
- Walk away from an item or leave it in your online shopping cart for 15 minutes before going through with an unplanned purchase.
- Tap your app. Spend two minutes each morning checking account balances and financial progress. Take another minute to review your vision board.
- Guard against identity theft. Annualcreditreport.com is the government-mandated website for weekly, free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Checking one takes five minutes.
- Destroy sensitive documents. Once a month, take 10 minutes to shred discards containing bank account information or your personal data.
- Add to your emergency fund. Pick a realistic amount, then take five minutes to set up a balance transfer.
- Change your banking passwords. It’s risky to use one password for years or for multiple accounts. Spend 15 minutes changing yours annually.
- Take 10 minutes to update beneficiaries on your 401(k), IRA and life insurance policies. Do this yearly to ensure your assets go to the people you want when you die.
- Pause before hanging up and take a minute to ask that relative or friend for a referral to a reputable life insurance agent. Adequate coverage protects your family.
- Create a will using a lawyer, standard templates or an online will-preparation site. Meantime, learn 10-minute money moves to take if you don’t have a will.
- Check if you’re eligible for property tax reductions offered in your state. Take five minutes to learn how AARP can help.
- Volunteer. In the book Rich Habits, author Thomas Corley found that 72 percent of self-made millionaires volunteer at least five hours per month. Helping others offers connections and boosts skills. Discover volunteer opportunities with AARP.
- Get a money or business mentor who has accomplished what you’d like to achieve. Try micromentor.org to access a network of volunteers in all fields.