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Updated: March 2, 2021 7:20 AM ET | Originally published: September 21, 2020

So you’re making more than $65,000 a year — that’s great! Here are 8 smart money moves you can tackle today to keep more cash in your pocket, grow what you have, and protect your family.

1. Leave your family $1 million in case something happens

Have you considered how your family would fare without your income when you’re no longer around?

Life insurance provides a tax-free lump sum to your loved ones in the case of your death. It allows them to pay rent or a mortgage, put food on the table, and send your kids to college. And it may not be quite as expensive as you think. Depending on your age and health, you may be able to get up to $1 million in coverage for less than $25 a month[1].

Check out Haven Life, a new company in the life insurance space offering term insurance — meaning it’s for a set period of time. You can get a quote from your couch and get covered fast, without salespeople or medical exams[2].

Founded in 2015, Haven Life is backed and wholly owned by MassMutual, a leading life insurance company that has been around for more than 150 years and is rated A++ by AM Best, its top financial strength rating (meaning they think the company has a superior ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations).

Get a quick life insurance estimate on Haven Life’s website >>

2. Start a rainy day fund with just $5

Life is full of surprises and if 2020 is any indication, that trend isn’t going anywhere. These surprises often include unforeseen expenses. Financial experts preach that setting some money aside automatically as part of an emergency fund is key to always being ready for life’s curveballs. A good rule of thumb is to have between 3 and 6 months’ worth of living expenses saved up and kept separately from your main banking accounts. That means if your family spends $5,000 a month, you should have $15,000 to $30,000 in an emergency fund. Feeling behind? Here's your checklist to get back on track:

  1. Open a new account; it's good to keep your emergency fund separate. You can start with as little as $5.
  2. Don't check the balance very often. Avoid using it for expenses that you know are coming. This is for emergency expenses, such as medical bills, a broken-down car, and other similar costs.
  3. Automatically pay yourself every month. Think of it this way: every month you pay other people — cell phone, rent, car payments, etc. You should be paying YOURSELF, too!

Money recommends PenFed: A non-profit, federally insured credit union with fewer fees and better rates for you. PenFed has a Premium Online Savings Account with an APY that is up to 15 times the national average[4], all without any maintenance fees and insured up to $250,000.

Start saving at PenFed >>

3. Refinancing Now Is The Easiest Way To Save Hundreds Each Month

The refinance boom is happening right now. If you’re one of the people who have not been able to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates, there is still time. While many experts claim they’ll remain low, things can change quickly, especially during unprecedented times. Just in the past few months, we’ve seen rates at all-time lows, surge due to recent demand, and now settle back down.

Here’s an example: If you took out a $400,000 mortgage in California just three years ago, and currently have at least a 5% interest rate (which is already a very low rate), you could probably save about $357/month by refinancing today! Whether your house is more or less expensive, or your current rate is better or worse, you can’t argue with the fact that the savings are significant.

If you’re looking for a company to help you with the refinance process, Money recommends AmeriSave. They’re available in 49 states so you don’t have to wonder if they’ll work for you and they’re known for great customer service with no hidden fees.

Get a custom quote today - it takes less than five minutes >>

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4. Already Refinanced Your Home? Get a Low Interest Loan.

Apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit (or HELOC) to get cash for anything. Pay off credit cards, remodel your kitchen or home-office, or simply pay for unexpected bills.

Money recommends Figure. Figure is innovative because they offer a 1-page pre-qualification form online. Enter your address and income and you’ll get a personalized rate. No impact to your credit score. Apply in minutes with Figure's 100% online application and receive funding in 5 days.[5]

Figure’s rates start at just 3.49% APR (includes a 0.75% discount for opting into a Quorum Membership and enrolling in autopay. This rate also includes payment of an origination fee of 4.99%, for those who qualify). If used for home improvement, the interest you pay is tax deductible!

Apply now, and you could have the money in your bank account next week.

5. Have a car loan? Don’t Overpay.

Interest rates are at all time lows right now. Everyone is looking to refinance their mortgage, but a lot of people are missing out on another huge opportunity - refinancing their car loan. Chances are that you can put a few hundred dollars in your pocket this year.

Lowering your interest rate is almost always a ‘no-brainer’. Money recommends Auto Approve, they have an A+ BBB rating and super low rates starting at 1.9%.

Start here. They’ll ask you about yourself, your car, and your job. They’ll then take that information to calculate a personalized rate.

6. Don’t get caught without a warranty

A home warranty is coverage for the things that home insurance does not cover. It covers the replacement for normal wear and tear on the appliances and systems in your house (think AC, refrigerator, plumbing, electrical, etc.). If your 15 year old dishwasher suddenly breaks down, your home insurance won’t cover it, but your home warranty will.

You're spending more time at home now, which means that you’re using your appliances more. The home warranty companies haven’t adjusted their models yet, so buying now is one of the best values for a home warranty. For around $35-$50/month, you can sleep well knowing that you’re covered.

Money recommends American Home Shield. They are not only the industry leader with 1.8M customers, but they also founded the industry almost 50 years ago! They’re currently offering $75 off their most popular plans.

Click here to get started. Put in your home address, email, and check out a free quote.

7. This socially conscious financial account pays you for purchases you’re already making.

You won’t find many (if any) cards on the market that can give you up to 5% cash back every time you swipe your debit card, but Aspiration is a new kind of financial firm. One with a conscience. For those companies that are part of their ‘Conscience Coalition’, members will receive up to 3%-5% cash back on every purchase (think companies like Toms shoes, Blue Apron food delivery, and Warby Parker glasses). They’ll also give you cash back on other companies they deem to have a high social impact score (just to name a few - Apple, Walmart, Allstate, Verizon, and AT&T are all on the list).

Aspiration is also running a promotion that Money readers are eligible for - $100 back when you spend your first $1,000 with Aspiration.

In order to be eligible for the $100 offer, use this link. Enter your email address, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can save with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC-insured up to $2.46M.[6]

8. Protect everything you’ve earned

Home security used to be a complicated matter — think long installations, codes to remember, and the fear of having cops show up at your house because you accidentally set it off. SimpliSafe has changed all that by providing an easy-to-use system that protects every window, room, and door in your household from potential burglaries — with a no-fuss setup.

Starting at just 50 cents a day, your home can be monitored by professionals around the clock. SimpliSafe also protects against fires and water leaks, and should you need medical assistance, you can call them with the press of a button on your smartphone. In the event of a home invasion, Simplisafe’s video verification can send real-time footage to the police, adding an extra layer of protection.

And if that wasn’t enough, installing a quality home security system like SimpliSafe can drop your homeowners insurance up to 20%.

Check out current deals on SimpliSafe's Website >>

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[1] $20 quote healthy, non-smoking, woman seeking $500,000 for 20 years.
[2] Issuing the policy or paying its benefits depends on the applicant’s insurability, based on
their answers to the health questions in the application, and their truthfulness.
[3] MassMutual and its subsidiaries C.M. Life Insurance Company and MML Bay State Life Insurance Company are rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of [insert today’s date] and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
[4] Federally Insured by NCUA.Sourced directly from: http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates. Rates are accurate as of June 29, 2020. APY (Annual Percentage Yield) is accurate as of July 1, 2020 and is subject to change at any time. Fees may reduce earnings. $5 minimum to open the account.
[5] Five business day funding timeline assumes closing the loan with our remote online notary. Funding timelines may be longer for loans secured by properties located in counties that do not permit recording of e-signatures or that otherwise require an in-person closing.
[6] Deposits are FDIC-insured up to $2.46 million per depositor by being swept to FDIC Member Institutions. Visit fdic.gov. Aspiration’s Program Banks. For additional Cash Back details, click here & here. Aspiration’s Additional Disclaimers.