When it comes to advice about money, some of the stuff you read can be pretty unrealistic.
Of course, you should start saving for retirement as soon as you start working, but what if you have student loan debt and bills to pay? And, yeah, it’d be nice to save 20 percent of your paycheck, but what if you’re a single mom trying to raise two kids?
That’s why it’s nice to hear advice from real women — women who’ve paid off debt, improved their credit scores, and started successful businesses. Here are five stories from women who’ve shared their money tips and secrets with us.
And the best part? You can start using much of their advice today.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Secret No. 1: You’re Not Stuck With Your Credit Card Debt Forever
Sure, sometimes it feels like you’ll never escape your debt, but the truth is, you can. One of our favorite steps to take to get out of credit card debt is actually pretty simple, too: Refinance it with a personal loan.
If you’re not sure where to start, use a website called Fiona to search your options. It’ll match you with a low-interest loan. You can then use that loan to wipe out your credit card debt. Then you’re left with just one bill to pay every month.
The key is to look for a loan with lower interest rates and more manageable monthly payments. You might even be able to find an option that allows you to get out of debt faster.
We chatted with one San Francisco resident who struggled to keep up with her credit card debt. She faced a minimum monthly payment of $274 plus $154 in monthly interest plus a $99 annual credit card fee. She said it felt like she was on a treadmill.
She decided to refinance with a personal loan, which spared her from what would’ve been $14,000 in interest over time.
Plus, Fiona makes this super easy. It won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online in as little as two minutes.
Secret No. 2: Leave Your Kids $1 Million (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire)
If you’re a mom, you’ve probably had one of those dreaded thought spirals about what would happen to your kids if something were to happen to you…
For single mom Rebekah Pearsall, this was difficult to consider. “Since my son doesn’t have a biological father in his life, I wanted to make sure he was secure if something were to ever happen to me,” she said.
That’s when she started looking into life insurance.
Before you start thinking you don’t have the time or money for that, look into policies through a company called Bestow. It offers $1 million policies, and plans start at $5 a month. Your application shouldn’t take more than about five minutes.
You can change or cancel your plan at any time. Plus, the security of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.
It takes only a few minutes to get a free quote.
Secret No. 3: You Don’t Have to Have an MBA to Start a Business
If you dream of starting your own business, don’t let the fact that you don’t have a business degree from an Ivy League school hold you back. (Yeah, imposter syndrome is the worst.)
Consider Kumiko Love’s story: She graduated with $100,000 worth of debt from student loans, credit cards and medical bills. She tried to stick to a budget, but it always fell through. So she gave up…
…until she started studying the psychology of money. She took some of the mind tricks she learned and combined several budgeting methods. She logged her progress through her blog, The Budget Mom.
And guess what? She’s now debt-free and shares her advice on her website, which is now a full-fledged, seven-figure business. Yup — she quit her full-time job and now focuses on The Budget Mom.
Pretty cool, right?
Secret No. 4: You Can Increase Your Credit Score Hundreds of Points
Sometimes your credit score might feel frozen in place. No matter what you do, it feels like it won’t ever budge. But before you start feeling complacent (that three-digit number is a big deal!), try this trick: Use a free website called Credit Sesame to check your score and get some advice.
When you’re checking your score, you’ll want to keep an eye open for any errors. Yup — it might be possible you’re doing everything right, but your report has an error (one in five do).
Salome Buitureria, a working mom of nine in Louisiana, was struggling to keep her credit afloat when she got laid off. After she secured a new job, she decided to take a look at the damage. Her score was 524.
Credit Sesame helped her figure out what she could do to improve her score — and even helped her find an error on her report. Using Credit Sesame, Buitureria fixed the mistake and took additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.*
Now? She’s focused on buying a home.
It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up with Credit Sesame.
Secret No. 5: Women Should Invest Differently Than Men
Traditional investing companies have never really considered the fact that women statistically get paid less, yet live longer.
That’s why Sallie Krawcheck, the former head of Merrill Lynch, designed an investing company for women called Ellevest.
With Ellevest, you can start investing with as little as $1. Plus, when you sign up through Woman’s World and The Penny Hoarder, you’ll get a $25 bonus in your Ellevest account.**
When you sign up, Ellevest will build an investing plan just for you and your financial goals. It considers gender pay differences, any potential career breaks, and overall lifespan. Even better? It invests your money in women-owned businesses.
Thanks to Krawcheck, we can invest exactly for our needs and feel more confident in our financial future.
*Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
**The Woman’s World/Penny Hoarder promotional offer is valid for the first 1,000 new clients of Ellevest who enter through this designated landing page. Clients who enroll and fund their non-retirement account will receive $25 added to their highest priority goal in their Ellevest account. Clients who enroll and fund their retirement account will receive a $25 Amazon gift card which can be redeemed by visiting www.amazon.com. Please review Amazon.com Gift Card Terms and Conditions prior to redemption. Ellevest is not responsible for lost Amazon Gift Cards. Ellevest’s processing time for depositing $25 into a client’s Ellevest account or delivery of a $25 Amazon gift card may be up to 60 days.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.