One of the things that keeps a lot of people from beginning to get their finances in order is the fear that it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to do so. While it’s certainly true that certain aspects can be time consuming, there are a lot of little steps that anyone can take to help improve finances that take less than ten minutes to accomplish. Here are ten things most can do in just a few minutes that will help get them started on better finances:
Set a Date to Pay Bills
A lot of people have trouble keeping their finances in order and this sometimes leads to financial problems down the road. One of the best ways to improve your finances is to keep everything in order and make smart, timely decisions. Setting a date to pay all your monthly bills is a great way to control your finances. If you know that all your bills are due around the same time of the month, pick a date and sit down to pay them all. If you can’t pay them all at one time, outline a schedule so you know exactly what days you can and will pay them. Sticking to a schedule will help you avoid late fees or missed payments.
Make a List of All Accounts
Make two lists of all your financial accounts. One list should be all bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts. List the account number and any important account information. After doing so, make sure this is locked away somewhere safe, such as a locked or password protected safe box. Second, make a list of all credit card accounts, utility accounts, and other monthly expenditures. Take down the account number, the due date of the bill, the grace period, minimum balance requirements, and any remaining important information. These two lists will help you keep track of all accounts and if you ever lose any information, you’ll have everything listed in a safe place.
Opt Out of Pre-Approved Credit Cards
While there are some types of junk mail that pays, that isn’t the case for a lot of it. Almost everyone who has a credit score received pre-approved credit card offers in the mail. They’re annoying and for some people, tempting. They usually come with supposedly great signing bonuses to get you interested, but almost always make their money back in other ways. One of the best things you can do is to opt-out. Visit Opt Out Prescreen to opt-out of credit card and insurance offers and visit DMA Choice to opt-out of junk mail.
Track Your Weekly Spending
Some people forget to track their weekly spending and by the end of the month (or a couple of months), they spend hours trying to figure out where they spent their money. Scheduling a time each week to go over your expenses for a few minutes is a great way to improve your financial outlook. You’ll have a better sense of how money you’re spending and how to improve spending habits. There are also plenty of sites online that you can link to your bank account to track your spending habits such as Mint.
Set Up Automatic Transfers to a Savings Account
Many people complain that they can’t save money because they don’t have money to save. But a lot of those people spend money on frivolous things, and that’s money that could have been put into a savings account. Set up a transfer from your paycheck or checking account to your savings account on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. The amount can vary depending on what you can afford. Setting this up will take barely any time and before you know it, you’ll have money you thought you couldn’t save in your savings.
Freeze Your Credit
If you had a bad financial history, freezing your credit with the three credit bureaus might be the right step to take. Whether you’re freezing your credit history so you’re unable to open new accounts or freezing current credit, this is a quick step that will help set you on the right financial path.
Keep a Change Jar
There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can set aside some time to clean out all spare change from your wallet each week or simply have a jar by the door that you can empty any change in your pockets into as you walk in the door. Or, if you want to go bigger, you can decide to take all $1 or $5 bills out of your wallet instead of coins. Whether it’s dollar bills or change, money adds up quickly. It’ll be a nice stash of money saved away for a rainy day.
Remove Yourself from Mailing Lists
Many of us receive “daily deal” emails from deal sites or stores. Sometimes an email that has SALE in big, flashing letters is hard to resist. Removing yourself from store or website mailing lists will limit the chances of you spending money you don’t have. Not seeing a daily email about a new sale or new great deal is a great way to start improving your financial outlook. Avoid temptation and make your email only for personal or business correspondence.
Set a Monthly Savings Goal
If you’re really intent on saving money, set a monthly goal. It’ll take you barely 10 minutes to figure out how much you want to save and figure out how much you can contribute each day or each week. Once you have a goal to work toward and plan in place, you shouldn’t have any problem reaching that number!
Take an Inventory
A lot of us are guilty of buying things we think we need, when in reality, we already own or it or don’t need it. Spending a little bit of time making an inventory of items you already own or a list of items you definitely do need will help you keep focus. This way you can be financial smart an avoid buying duplicates or items that you don’t actually need.
(Photo courtesy of GabrielaP93)