Forget Penny Pinching: 7 Big Money Moves to Build Wealth Faster

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

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We hear about the “Latte Factor” all the time: Cut out small purchases each day and your savings could add up to a million dollars in a few decades, provided you invested them.

But what if instead of sweating the small stuff, you paid attention to the bigger expenses in your life?

Rather than spending the rest of your life counting pennies, here are seven money moves that might have a bigger impact on your financial well-being. You might not even have to give up your favorite luxury splurge.

1. Downsize your home

Do you have more space than you need?

That’s probably costing you, said Thomas Nitzsche, the communications lead at Money Management International, a nonprofit focused on financial education.

Nitzsche went from a four-bedroom home to a tiny house with only 220 square feet.

“I was able to pay off the tiny home remodel in less than two years, and now I have almost no housing expenses,” Nitzsche said. “I only have a few utility and communication costs.”

You don’t have to buy a tiny house to see savings, though. Natasha Rachel Smith, a personal finance expert at TopCashback.com, pointed out that any downsize in your living situation can reduce your bills in several ways:

  • Smaller housing payment
  • Lower utility bills
  • Less temptation to buy more things due to excess space
  • Lower property taxes (if you own)

I’m planning to downsize my own living situation when my son graduates from high school. Instead of paying $995 per month on rent, I’ll be able to find something for $600 per month — a monthly savings of $395.

With that much saved, I could buy a $5 latte each morning ($150 per month) and still come out ahead.

2. Refinance your home

What if you’re not quite ready to downsize but still want to save money on homeownership costs?

Refinancing your home can be one way to do it. Using our mortgage calculator, here’s an example of what you could save if you refinanced a $180,000 loan with 20 years left:

Save money each month by refinancing your home

By refinancing, you’d save $222 each month on your mortgage by nabbing a lower interest rate. Those savings would be automatic and amount to $2,664 annually. Use our investment calculator to see what you could earn by investing those savings.

Invest your money and see great returns

Assuming an 8% rate of return, you’d have an extra $131,723 after 20 years of investing. That would be on top of what you already had in your account. And it sure beats paying more than $53,000 extra in mortgage interest.

3. Bundle your insurance policies

“Bundling home insurance with auto insurance typically saves the consumer between 10% and 25% per policy,” said Smith. “You can get additional savings if you include life insurance.”

By bundling, I save 30% overall on my auto, renter, and life insurance coverage. Rather than paying about $350 each month for these three policies, I pay $245 — a savings of $105 each month.

It’s not just about bundling, though. Joel Ohman, a certified financial planner and the founder of the insurance website CarInsuranceComparison.com, pointed out that taking a few minutes every six months to get new quotes on your policies can save you big time over the years.

“The cheapest insurance company six or 12 months ago might not be the cheapest today,” said Ohman. “Your situation, coverage needs, and insurance rates all change. Take 15 minutes to compare rates and reap the savings.”

4. Improve your credit score

No matter your situation, you can save money when you take the time to boost your credit score — and maintain it.

“Credit scores affect a wide range of financial realities, including car insurance rates in some states,” Ohman said. “The better your credit score, the better your insurance rates, the better your interest rates, and the better your financial options overall.”

According to Nationwide Credit Clearing, a credit repair company, here’s what you could save with a credit score of 750 compared to a 650 score:

  • Five-year $25,000 auto loan: $4,239 in total interest
  • Thirty-year $274,640 fixed-rate mortgage: $1,956 in the first year

In addition to saving money on insurance premiums and loan rates, you could also see a reduction in security deposits required by landlords or utility companies, according to Nationwide Credit Clearing.

All of that can add up over time, making it worthwhile to pay attention to what’s happening with your credit score.

5. Refinance your student loans

Depending on your credit and income situation, you might also be able to save big bucks by refinancing your student loans.

You can choose to refinance both federal and private student loans, but be careful. Choosing to refinance federal student loans isn’t always the best decision, even if you could get a lower interest rate. For example, if you’re eligible for loan forgiveness, getting rid of federal loans through refinancing could be a poor choice.

With private student loans, on the other hand, you’re almost always better off refinancing if you can get a better interest rate.

Run the numbers on both your federal and private loans to see if you could benefit. Our student loan consolidation versus refinancing calculator can help you get a rough idea of where to start.

For example, consider how refinancing or consolidating could affect repayment on a $25,000 federal student loan.

Find out if you should refinance your federal student loans

As you can see, both refinancing and consolidating can save you money in terms of monthly cash flow. But only refinancing will result in overall interest savings.

6. Increase your insurance deductibles

“While everyone realizes that the higher your deductible is, the cheaper your monthly premium will be, many people balk at having a high deductible,” said Ohman.

According to Insurance.com, you could save, on average, between $261 and $419 on your annual homeowner’s policy by boosting your deductible to $2,500 from $500.

While that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider if you raised your deductible on other insurance policies. Back when I paid for self-employed health insurance, my premium savings were about $250 a month, thanks to a high-deductible plan and my Health Savings Account.

I’m also saving money on my auto insurance, thanks to a $1,500 deductible rather than a $500 one.

These changes to your situation are fairly large, but the savings each month and year become automatic and add up over time.

Before you rush out to increase all your deductibles, though, take some precautions. “Start a savings account designed to cover these deductibles,” Ohman said. “Only after you have enough money saved up to cover the deductible should you call your agent and make the change.”

7. Start a retirement plan

Rather than focusing on all the penny-pinching, Smith recommended making sure you start saving for retirement early.

“Even if you only save 5% of your salary, the longer you contribute, the more money you end up with,” Smith said. “It’s more important to start a solid savings habit than cut out cheap, small pleasures from your life.”

If your employer offers a match, take advantage of the free money that can help you grow your future wealth. Even if you don’t have access to an employer plan, you can open a tax-advantaged retirement account on your own.

You don’t need to be a miser to save big bucks

While it’s always important to be smart with your money, that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun in life. Rather than stressing out over every penny spent, consider a few bigger strategies that can lead to more efficient wealth-building over time.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.