We all know that time is often a precious resource. So much to do, so little time!

Fortunately, improving your financial life doesn’t have to be time-consuming or too complicated.

The tasks below usually take around 20 minutes or less, but can help you take a big step towards improving your finances. Try crossing a few of these items off your list when you have a half hour to spare!

1. Check your credit report

Whether you’re buying a house, opening a credit card, or even applying for a job, your credit report is likely to be a major determinant of your success. This is why you want all the information it contains to be accurate. Request a free copy of your report from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.

2. Establish an emergency fund

Fingers crossed that you never lose your job or experience a financial hardship. To help prepare for those “just in case” moments, open a designated savings account and set up a monthly automatic deposit, socking away funds until you have enough to cover six to nine months’ worth of essential living expenses (mortgage, utilities, transportation). If you’re an Ally Bank customer, consider using an Online Savings account and enjoy watching your emergency fund grow with interest compounded daily!

3. Build your investment portfolio

Investing in the stock market can be risky, but can also offer great rewards. With a managed portfolio, you simply answer a few questions online about your risk tolerance and goals, and leave the investing to the professionals.


4. Charge smarter

With so many different credit cards out there, you should have a piece of plastic that rewards you for making purchases with it. Think about what type of perks you’d most like to receive — travel rewards, cash back — and apply for a card that will offer you the most bang for the bucks you charge on it.

5. Look at your account balances

This one’s super-fast but surprisingly neglected. Some investors are afraid to log in to their brokerage accounts and see how all their accounts are performing. But guess what – sometimes the news is better than you realize. Either way, knowing your overall picture can help make you more confident about your financial status.

6. Update your home insurance coverage

If you’ve renovated or added on to your house or simply upgraded some of its systems, take a few minutes and notify your insurance carrier. You never know if your home updates could offer a savings on costs of coverage!

7. Set up account alerts

At times, life can be so busy that things fall through the cracks. Sign up with your bank and credit card issuer to receive notifications informing you that, say, a bill is due in a few days or your account balance fell below a predetermined amount.

8. Open an IRA

Whether or not you have an employee-sponsored 401(k) account, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be a great way to help increase the size of your nest egg. There are a few different types of IRA plans to consider – each with their own benefits and considerations. We offer a variety of different IRAs, so you can choose one that suits your needs best. Learn more about our Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs  here.

9. Close unused accounts

You might have multiple credit card accounts – but do you swipe them all on a regular basis? Simplify your financial life by keeping only the cards that you use and closing any other accounts.

10. Automate your savings

Give your investment accounts a regular injection of cash by signing up for recurring deposits. Select the amount and the date on which you want the transfer to happen, and the funds will be transferred automatically from your checking or savings into an investment account.

11. Enroll in automatic bill pay

Set it and forget it. Gather all your monthly statements and sign up for auto-pay for those that allow it. For the ones that don’t, create a reminder on your phone’s calendar so that you remember to pay on time each month. After all, who wants to pay a costly late fee on an already-expensive electric bill?

Taking care of your finances can feel overwhelming, but breaking the to-do list up into these short tasks can certainly help to make it more manageable. Your future self will thank you for the effort — and your current self might be much less stressed as well.

Do you have additional stress-busters for managing money? Let us know how you mitigate financial stress in the comments below.

This article is not meant to provide you with financial or investment advice, but rather you should speak to your financial planner with any specific questions you may have.