Whether you're a student or you have a house, spouse and kids, here are five easy steps to take control of your money.

1. Upgrade your bank account

Milan, Italy - August 10, 2017: Chase bank website. It is a national bank that constitutes the consumer and commercial banking subsidiary of the U.S.  holding company, JPMorgan Chase
Casimiro PT / Shutterstock

Bank accounts are more than just places to stash your dough until you spend it. As soon as you start making some money, the first thing you’ll want to do is put it to work for you.

Choose a checking account that won't charge you for everyday ATM transactions or hit you with other ridiculous fees that take bites out of your hard-earned money.

And, look for a high-interest savings account that will grow your money faster and help you put aside funds to start reaching goals like traveling more or buying a car or your own place.

For impressive returns on savings accounts, online banks like Ally and Discover lead the pack. While more traditional banks offer just 0.01% annual interest on your savings, high-interest accounts from web-based banks can pay close to 2%.

2. Apply for a (new) credit card

LA, CA, USA - May 26, 2016: Credit card is a method of payment that issuer grants a line of credit to the cardholder, from which the cardholder can borrow money for payment to a merchant.
Supannee_Hickman / Shutterstock

You have hundreds of different credit cards to choose from — and some are better choices than others. If you have a student card with a low credit limit or a card with no rewards or cash-back options, then you're definitely missing out.

You can find rewards credit cards that offer cash back when you buy gas or shop for groceries. Other cards will help you earn free flights or hotel stays, or can save you money at your favorite store.

Once you get a new credit card, make sure to always pay your balance in full at the end of the month. Because each time you use the card, you'll be adding to your credit history — and helping the credit bureaus set your credit score.

Using 30% or less of your available credit will make it easy to pay your balance and will show the credit agencies you’re not overextending yourself. This will translate to a healthy credit score and easier access to mortgages, car loans and other credit you'll be needing.

3. Invest in your future

JEMBER, EAST JAVA, INDONESIA, MAY 31, 2018. Acorns - Invest Spare Change app in App Store. Close-up on the laptop screen.
FOOTAGE VECTOR PHOTO / Shutterstock

Even a very modest investment can grow substantially over time. Financial advisers agree that the sooner you start investing, the better!

If you were to put aside $100 a month from age 20 until you’re 65, you’d save $54,000 — and investing it at an average annual return of 7% would grow it to nearly $370,000. But if you don't start until you're 40, you'd retire with just $81,000.

Don’t despair if you’re in your 30s and haven’t started investing yet! Now’s the time, and it’s easier than ever.

There are easy to use micro investing apps like Acorns, that make it easy to save for your future. In fact, start investing with a $5 bonus on Stash. You can start with just $5, and learn as you go.

4. Insure yourself

life insurance policy
ssguy / Shutterstock

You’re not planning to leave this world anytime soon — but if something happens that shortens your schedule, you can save your family a lot of pain by having life insurance.

If you have outstanding private student loans, then a life insurance payout could cover the rest of your payments so your family isn’t saddled with debt. Or, when you own a home, insurance could cover your mortgage payments after you're gone.

Buying insurance in your 20s or 30s is dirt cheap, and term life insurance for 10, 20 or 30 years is the best option for young people.

If you have no debt at all, have some insurance coverage through your job, or are not planning on owning a home or having kids, then you may not need to buy life insurance.

5. Make out a will

Word text Make a will on white paper on office table / business concept
OoddySmile Studio / Shutterstock

Everyone needs a will — even you. According to estate law experts, writing a will should be a prerequisite to graduating from high school!

With a will, you can give directions on how your social media accounts, photos and finances should be handled if you make an early exit. You can name a guardian for your pet and give instructions to sell certain possessions to cover expenses for your fur-baby.

If you’re the charitable type, you can even will your money or belongings to your favorite nonprofit. And — getting heavy here — you can leave directions on the lengths that should be taken to keep you alive.

More importantly, having a will ensures that your money and possessions are kept out of the court system and that your family or partner can access your life insurance money.

High-Interest Savings Accounts for January 2020

When selecting the best high-interest savings account for you, look for the highest yield while also considering introductory rates, minimum balances and accessibility.

Bank/Institution APY Min. Balance for APY Est. Earnings
Estimated interest earnings calculation is based on a $25,000 deposit amount for a period of 1 year and rounded to the nearest dollar.
CIT Bank Logo

CIT Bank
1.80%
$25,000
$450
Learn More
Credit Karma Logo

Credit Karma
1.80%
$0.01
$450
Learn More
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
1.70%
$0
$425
Learn More
American Express Personal Savings
1.70%
$1
$425
Learn More

Advertising Disclosure

Many of the savings offers appearing on this site are from advertisers from which the website receives compensation for being listed here. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). These offers do not represent all deposit accounts available.

Disclaimer

Rates/Annual Percentage Yield terms above are current as of the date indicated. These quotes are from banks, credit unions and thrifts, some of which have paid for a link to their website. Bank, thrift and credit unions are member FDIC or NCUA. Contact the bank for the terms and conditions that may apply to you. Rates are subject to change without notice and may not be the same at all branches.

About the Author

Esther Trattner

Esther Trattner

Freelance Contributor

Esther is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.