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7 Life Kit Episodes That Will Bring You Closer To Financial Independence

A photograph of three twenty dollar bills in front of bright, striped background. A prism warps the bottom of the money with glowing streaks in the bottom of the frame.

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From signing up for the right credit card to paying off debt to navigating a financial crisis — managing money is a lot easier with a little know-how. Here are seven of our favorite Life Kit episodes on common and confusing money topics, featuring personal finance experts who are eager to help you out.

Cut Down Miscellaneous Expenses

Trying on pajama pants at Target (just for fun!), swinging by an ice cream store, because it's not the same as the pint I have in my fridge — I've been there. Personal finance expert Tiffany Aliche, "The Budgetnista," recommends asking yourself whether you "Need it, love it, like it or want it" before springing for impulse purchases. If the gratification from a purchase will last less than one year, it's just a "like" and you might be better off skipping it to save up for something you'll "love."

Master Budgeting

When I moved into my first apartment out of college, I quickly realized that no one ever taught me how to budget. Author Kristen Wong points out that young adults shouldn't feel obligated to budget just because it is what grown-ups do. Instead, she suggests holding onto a personal goal that you're saving up for, like a weeklong trip, a new computer or dinner from your favorite restaurant. Here's more on how you can budget to feel "liberated."

Make Money From Your Side Hustle

Remember when you dreamed of making jewelry for a living? Or walking dogs? Or insert childhood dreams here. Your job may look very different today, but there are ways to turn your passion into income.

Freelance gigs have become a significant part of many careers — and as long as you know why you're willing to hustle, the hard work may be worth it. If you're looking to make money doing the work you love, here's a way you can strategize to still maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Three dollar bills folded into hearts are displayed on a sparkly green and blue background. A reflection of the money is seen in the bottom right corner of the frame.
/ Becky Harlan/NPR
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Crush Your Debt

Want to dig out of debt as fast as possible? It'll be challenging — think cutting your expenses and working extra hours — so you'll need to stay motivated. We recommend checking in with loved ones for support, dividing bigger goals into action items and rewarding yourself with small joys. And remember to plan ahead to resist temptations until you reach the finish line.

Improve Your Credit Score

Ah, the credit score. A mysterious number that tells lenders how financially reliable you are and how good you are at paying off debt. There are rules to this number, but they aren't easy to understand. If you're trying to rent an apartment, buy a car or apply for a loan, someone will likely check out your credit score. We've got tips on how to bump it up in this Life Kit episode.

Survive A Financial Crisis

Many of us faced new economic challenges due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown and resulting layoffs. In this episode, personal finance expert Michelle Singletary walks us through immediate steps we can take in response to financial crises, from understanding our essential needs to asking loved ones for support to applying for federal funds.

Save Up For Retirement

Between everyday purchases and larger investments, saving up for retirement can be tricky. This episode breaks it down into four smaller steps you can take to prepare — like looking into your company's retirement contribution. It may seem tricky, but the earlier you start saving, even just a little bit, the more time your money has to grow. (Shoutout to compound interest!) We believe in you.


Find more Life Kit stories on money, here.

We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.