We all know that time is often a precious resource. So much to do, so little time!
Though our financial wellbeing is something that we all strive to prioritize.
Fortunately, improving your financial life doesn’t have to be time-consuming or overly complicated.
The 10 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 the time to spare!
1. Check your credit report.
Whether you’re buying a house, opening a new credit card, or even applying for a job, your credit report is likely to be a major determinant of your success. Therefore, you want all the information that it contains to be accurate. You also want to look for areas in which you can improve your credit score. Request a free copy of your report from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Note: You can only request a free report once within a twelve-month period or if you are denied credit or insurance.
2. Establish an emergency fund.
Fingers crossed that you never lose your job or experience a financial hardship. But 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 three to six months’ worth of essential living expenses (mortgage, utilities, transportation). With an Ally Bank Online Savings Account, you can even take advantage of our awesome savings buckets, which allows you to easily to divvy up your savings into different categories!
3. Build your investment portfolio.
Investing in the stock market can be risky, but can also offer great rewards to.
Whether you’re a first-time investor or a seasoned investor, there’s plenty of resources available to best suit your investing style.
For example, with an Ally Invest Managed Portfolio, you simply answer a few questions regarding your risk tolerance and goals and our on-hand professionals do all the heavy lifting for you – and the best part is there’s absolutely no annual charges or rebalancing fees! And if you’d prefer to take the wheel, however, then a Self-Directed Account would be right up your alley.
Tip: You can even automate your savings by setting up recurring deposits from your checking’s or savings account, which can help you build your portfolio on a more consistent basis.
4. Check your account balances.
This one’s super-fast but surprisingly often neglected. Some investors avoid regularly logging in to their brokerage accounts to see how their investment are performing, due to fear of the unknown. When really your portfolio might be doing surprisingly well – and even if it isn’t, it’s important to know the overall picture of your financial status so that you can adjust your situation accordingly if need be.
You should also check your bank accounts for any unfamiliar or purposelessly recurring withdrawals, such as a charge that you don’t recall authorizing and may cause for dispute, or an idle subscription that you’re no longer utilizing.
5. 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.
6. Enroll in automatic bill pay.
Set it and forget it. Gather all your monthly statements and sign up for autopay 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?
7. Get rewarded.
With so many different types of credit cards out there, many lines of credit now provide you with extra incentives. Think about the type of perks you’d like to receive — whether travel rewards or cash back — and apply for a card that will offer you the most bang for your bucks.
8. 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. Renovations such as replacing a roof or upgrading your plumbing or electrical systems — anything that makes your house more durable or improves the standard operations of your home — can often lead to a decrease in your insurance.
9. Open an IRA.
Whether or not you have an employer-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 best suits your needs.
10. Plan ahead.
You can map out your upcoming expenses, such as grocery shopping for example. By creating a list to know your roundabout costs and allocating a set amount of funds to spend during your store visit, you can avoid frivolous spending.
Taking care of your finances can feel overwhelming at times, but breaking the to-do list up into these 10 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.