By: Brent Pasqua

For many of us, the thought of having to spend time in quarantine has never crossed our mind. The idea could give some of us anxiety. For others, a quarantine might mean a well-needed break.

For me, I am looking forward to playing Uno with my kids, having family lunches, and doing workouts in the great outdoors.

Now is an excellent opportunity to create a difference in your life that can pay dividends to your future self. Whether you are retired, are wanting to retire, or have a young family, here are some great suggestions to make a difference in your personal financial life.

Understand Your Spending

Spending is a natural habit that we do not often think much about. If I asked you how much you spend each month, the answer probably would be “Not that much.”

But to really know the answer to that question, here is what I suggest you do.

There are quite a few websites that offer free budgeting software. Mint.com is my favorite of the bunch.

Create an account on their website, and sync up your bank accounts, credit cards, and any other accounts that you may use for expenses.

Once you do that, the website will pull in the data of your income and spending. Even better, it will categorize your expenses each month. This can give you a high-level overview of just how much you are spending. Seeing this naturally makes you think twice about whether that next purchase is worth it!

If you just spend an hour each month on your spending, you will know exactly where your money is going. That knowledge can give you a tremendous advantage to accomplish your goals and understand how much you can automatically put into savings for the future!

Get More Interest on your Cash

Speaking of savings, another way to improve your finances would be to open an online savings account that is FDIC insured.

Companies like Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Capital One, and Synchrony Bank are offering 1.70% on their high-yield accounts. That rate is exponentially higher than any offering from the mega brick-and-mortar banks like Bank of America, Chase, or Wells Fargo.

The best part is that it is simple to set up. You open an account online, you sync up your bank account, and you can transfer money back and forth.

The online savings account is also an excellent place for you to store your emergency fund. One other suggestion would be to set up automatic deposits from your checking account each month to your savings account. This will help you build your emergency fund automatically.

Review Your Credit

After you maximize your spending and savings, it’s time to review your credit.

CreditKarma offers free services that give you daily access to your credit score. Review your results on their site, and see what debts you have active and which ones you can pay off. Make sure to get in the habit of regularly checking your credit report.

When you are financing an expensive purchase, the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. This is another way to keep more money in your pocket long term.