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The 7 Biggest Money Mistakes (Almost) All Americans Make

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I’m a massive coupon/savings nerd, and an embarrassing amount of my time is spent talking to people to find out how they’re spending their money.

In my experience, the average American is making pretty serious financial errors on a daily basis.

Here are the 8 worst mistakes I typically see (and how you can save money by avoiding them):

Important note: This post contains affiliate links – we get paid when you click on them:

1. Not getting a financial advisor.

99% of people don’t have one, and it’s typically a huge mistake.

Sure, you can manage things on your own if you want to, but most people don’t have the time to actually do things right. There are huge benefits to having somebody pay attention to your money all the time.

  • People with financial advisors tend to beat the market by ~3%/year (according to a 2019 Vanguard Study). That can make a huge difference over time.
  • But more important: a good advisor will handle ALL of the annoying retirement stuff & bizarro tax implications you would have never thought of

If you don’t know a financial advisor personally,use a comparison site (like WiserAdvisor and find somebody near you that has good reviews.

Or if you want something easier, here’s a quiz you can fill out that will find an advisor/planner based on your reqs.

2. Not getting paid for screentime (Earning potential: up to 4k/week)

Sounds nuts, obviously, but the idea of playing cash solitaire as a side gig has been around for years, and can be surprisingly lucrative (if you’re good enough, anyway).

The whole thing revolves around Solitaire Cash (a free mobile game).

The game itself is really simple: You play solitaire head-to-head against another real person. Whoever solves their deck the fastest wins real cash.

If you can get good at the game, it can be surprisingly lucrative: typically up to $80/game for the winner. Each game takes ~2 minutes, in my experience.

You can grab the game here.

3. Not paying off credit card debt.

Debt can make you feel hopeless—even if you’re responsible about making payments on time, the interest sometimes prevents you from paying off the debt.

But, believe it or not, plenty of companies (National Debt Relief, for example) are willing to help you pay off your debt.

Here’s how it typically works:

  • A company like National Debt Relief (there are plenty of others, too) negotiates with your credit card companies, banks etc. to try and reduce your debt
  • If possible, they’ll consolidate all of your different sources of debt so you only have to make one monthly payment to one place.

A lot of times you’ll end up paying significantly less than you owe. Here’s an example from NDR’s site:

E.g. he was $36k in debt, but only ended up paying $23kish.

If things go well, you could be debt-free in 24-48 months or so. Here’s a calculator you can use to get a savings estimate, if you’re interested.

4. Not using an ad blocker.

If you aren’t using an ad blocker yet, I am begging you to try one. I am not exaggerating when I say it will change your life.

A good ad blocker will eliminate virtually all of the ads you’d see on the internet.

No more YouTube ads, no more banner ads, no more pop-up ads, etc. It’s incredible.

Most people I know use Total Adblock (link here) – it’s $2.42/month, but there are plenty of solid options.

Ads also typically take a while to load, so using an ad blocker reduces loading times (typically by 50% or more). They also block ad tracking pixels to protect your privacy, which is nice.

Here’s a link to Total Adblock, if you’re interested.

5. Save $400+/year on auto insurance.

Sounds crazy, but the average American saves $410+/year when they switch auto insurance.

Try using a free tool like to compare prices from a bunch of different providers all at once. You’ll likely save yourself a bunch of money.

See how much you could save.

6. Not investing in real estate (start with as little as $20).

It’s no secret that millionaires and billionaires love investing in real estate, but for the rest of us, buying property has been prohibitively expensive (if not impossible, for some).

Times have changed. There are a few amazing real estate startups that allow you to buy shares of rental homes for as little as $20/share (Ark7 is one of my favorites).

They take care of the property management and collect rent checks for you. Then, on the 3rd of the following month, your share of the property’s profit is distributed to your account.

It’s an interesting way to build yourself a little rental home empire (without spending like a magnate).

If you’re interested, take a look at Ark7’s properties here.

7. Keeping your money in a checking account.

If you’re like the average American, your savings account pays you virtually zero interest (typically under 0.3% a year, in my experience).

But believe it or not, plenty of banks are willing to offer you 10x that rate.

SoFi, for example, has an account that pays a whopping ~4%/year right now (as of the time that I’m writing this).

(E.g. if you store $100k in a 4% interest savings account today, in a year you’ll have netted $4,000 from interest alone)

If you’re interested, here are a few bank accounts with solid interest rates.

8. Not getting paid for playing games

There are a bunch of apps that will pay you to test out new games & apps and provide your feedback (sometimes physical products too).

I typically use TesterUp, but there are others too. It’s free: you just sign up and pick which tests look fun/interesting to you. I’ve seen tests pay as much as $160, which can add up pretty quickly.

Here’s a link to the app.

9. Giving away your screentime for free

Believe it or not, your screentime (and your attention) is worth money to a lot of companies.

Very few people know about it, but Nielsen (the company that measures TV ratings) will actually pay you for the time you spend on your phone or PC.

You basically are part of a mini-research study: you just install an app on your device that will give Nielsen anonymous data on how much you use your phone, etc.

Not everybody qualifies for it (here’s a link to their application form), but if you do, it’s a sweet gig.

That’s all (for now).

Thanks for reading!

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