Daylight Savings Time ended Sunday, and with that switch back to Standard Time, you gained one extra hour. Maybe you spent that hour getting a little extra sleep. But have you considered all the quick financial fixes you could make in those minutes?
Sure, an hour doesn’t sound like much time. But really, it can make all the difference when it comes to improving your bottom line. As it turns out, there are many actions you can take in one hour to help you save money and time, and to better your future.
Here are some quick financial fixes you can make in 60 minutes or less:
If your paycheck direct-deposit goes into your checking account (or you simply deposit all your funds there), you may be missing an opportunity to earn more money. For instance, if you’re keeping a large sum in checking, you may be missing out on higher interest rates available in many savings accounts. And if you login to your bank every pay period to manually transfer money to another account, you’re losing time. Setting up recurring, scheduled transfers can give you back some minutes and help you earn a higher return. Just make sure you’re up on all the available interest rates so you get the best return (Ally’s Interest Checking Account, for instance, actually offers rates higher than those at many other banks’ savings accounts).
Open an account
Do you have an emergency fund? A High Yield CD dedicated to your children’s education costs? An Online Savings Account for that upcoming European vacation? If you have savings goals — but haven’t set up a place to put the savings — now’s a great time to open the account you need.
Split your direct deposit
Once you’ve opened that new account, your employer may be able to help you with deposits. A number of companies allow you to split your direct deposit — meaning, you can automatically deposit your paycheck into more than one account. Not only will this save you time (you won’t have to make transfers), it can help ensure that you’re meeting your savings goals. (It’s like paying yourself!)
Opt for automatic Bill Pay
If you’d like to save yourself even more time each month, consider setting up automatic Bill Pay. Ally Bank offers two types: For bills you receive regularly that are always for the same amount (such as a mortgage or student loan), you can set up an automatic fixed payment. And if you receive eBills (electronic versions of your bills) in which the amount you owe changes, you can opt for automatic eBill payment. This enables your account to pay bills for you — with no effort needed on your part. With automatic Bill Pay up and running, you’ll have one less thing to worry about each month.
Get your Credit Report
A bad credit report can hurt if you’re trying to get a loan. That’s why you want to make sure your credit report is accurate. You can get a free copy once a year from each of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — or from AnnualCreditReport.com. For a nominal fee, each bureau can also give you your credit score (the number that lenders use to determine if you’re credit-worthy).
Reassess your monthly costs
You may have more flexibility than you think when it comes to how much you spend on monthly bills. For instance, you may be able to change your insurance premiums (for auto, InsuranceRates.com will let you compare rates). Or you can call your cable company and ask for a better rate. Whatever the bill, you can always try looking at what’s available from other vendors.
Shred financial documents
As we noted in our April post, “Bank Safety: How Ally Keeps Your Money Secure,” the Federal Trade Commission estimates 9 million people fall victim to identity theft each year. To help you avoid becoming a statistic, Ally Bank Information Security Officer David Shroyer recommends shredding documents that contain account numbers and other sensitive information.
Organize your tax documents
Instead of wading through piles of documents on April 14, you can save yourself lots of time by getting organized now. Just set up folders for every kind of receipt and tax document. When tax time comes, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips.
What financial quick fixes do you recommend? What’s your quickest quick-fix?