Alexa von Tobel dropped out of Harvard Business school in 2008 to pursue her dream: launching LearnVest, a personal finance website for women. By 2015 the service was such a success that Northwestern Mutual acquired the company and brought von Tobel on as their chief innovation officer.
Then in 2019, von Tobel announced that she would step down from Northwestern Mutual to start Inspired Capital, her own venture capital firm. Even in her new role, von Tobel remains as committed as ever to helping women navigate their finances. In her new book, Financially Forward, she teaches readers how to take advantage of tech-based financial tools to save time—and earn even more money.
Here, von Tobel breaks down her favorite hacks to live a digitally savvy and financially fit life:
Put all of your accounts on autopilot
You should automate everything. That means setting and forgetting credit card payments—but remember, you still have to read your bill!—student loan payments, 401K payments, and savings. It’s important to do this for a few reasons. First of all, none of us have the time. If you’re relying on yourself to stay on top of each of these, then you’re putting yourself in a position to fail. And do you really want to get dinged on your credit score because you accidentally missed it? More importantly, money that’s out of sight is out of mind, which means you’re less likely to touch the money that’s accruing in your savings account.
Stop saving your passwords in the notes app of your phone
For starters, using the same password on every website is exactly how you get hacked. Randomize your passwords whenever possible, and do not save them in your Notes app. Once you’ve locked down where you keep your passwords, make sure your phone and computer have password protection turned on at all times.
Shop online all you want—but be smarter about it
There are plenty of things we have to buy that aren’t fun to spend on each month, be it paper towels, toilet paper, or toothpaste. If you purchase them on a more or less set schedule, consider setting up is to set something up a subscription on Amazon on via another retailer. It could save you between 15 and 20 percent on those items. Plus, a simple online subscription can also save time.
Run your finances like your social calendar
Treat your finances like you do your social life. In the same way I have a work calendar and a social calendar, I also have a money calendar. In January I do a full financial refresh with my husband and prep for taxes, so that’s on there. Every quarter, I check my credit score on Credit Karma, and I add it to the calendar. I also make it a point to check my annual credit report. And in September we make some of our bigger purchases, like travel around the holidays. Make a list of every financial thing you do or want to do, from checking in on the balance in your 401K to preparing for taxes to planning big trips or big-ticket purchases. Then make each “event” recur on a schedule that makes sense for you. Everything goes into a calendar as a reminder to stay on top of small things.