When you're pressed for time, you might find that you push financial tasks to the bottom of your to-do list because they seem difficult or time-consuming. But lots of smart money moves will only take you a few minutes each — and can make a big difference to your bottom line.
Here are a few quick tasks you can knock out in under five minutes to improve your financial health right now.
When it comes to paying down debt or building up your savings, half the battle is remembering to make your monthly payments or deposits on time. Taking just a few minutes to set up autopay can be a smart financial move that helps you stay on track, and it means that making those payments or deposits manually and on time is one less thing you have to do each month.
"Creating that discipline, you won't feel it, but it will accumulate over time and benefit you long term," Leslie Thompson, managing principal at Spectrum Management Group, told Grow in 2019.
When you set up autopay, you can also avoid late payment fees and other penalties that could blemish your credit history. Building solid credit is another great way to hold yourself accountable to your long-term financial goals.
One way to make good use of a few free minutes is to check your retirement accounts and life insurance policy to verify that your beneficiaries are up to date.
Your beneficiaries are the people who, in the event that something happens to you, can claim ownership of your account and will be entitled to your assets.
You want to make sure you have the correct beneficiaries listed because they can override what's written in your will, if you have one.
Video by David Fang
Your credit score is a figure that helps lenders assess your creditworthiness, or how likely you are to be able to pay back a loan. It plays a key role in what kind of rate you get on an auto loan, for example, or what kind of mortgage you can get on a home — and how much you'll pay to finance those purchases.
Having a good credit score can help you secure a lower interest rate on these loans and save a lot of money over time.
You'll want to keep an eye on your credit, especially if you're about to make a move that hinges on your score, like taking out a loan. When lenders check your credit after you've applied, that so-called "hard pull" can have a small and usually temporary negative effect on your credit score. By contrast, reviewing your own credit is considered a "soft pull," and there are safe, easy ways to do it without penalty.
"If you have a credit card with almost any large card issuer, they are likely participating in FICO's Open Access program and you can see your score once a month on your statement," John Ulzheimer, a credit expert who has worked for FICO and Equifax, told Grow in 2019. "You can also check your FICO score at Discover's website even if you don't have a Discover card."
If your card issuer doesn't offer this option, third-party sites including Bankrate, Credit Karma, and Credit.com provide free credit scores, along with resources for boosting your score. The scores you find may vary a bit so don't stress about the numbers themselves and just look to see whether all fall in a particular range, like the "good" range (670-739).
Set aside a few minutes at the end of your day to make a to-do list of money-related tasks that absolutely have to get done. Whether that's depositing a check, reviewing your bank statement for errors, or Venmo-requesting a friend for money owed, to-do lists can help you keep track of tasks that can otherwise fall through the cracks.
The key is keeping it short. That means no more than six "quick wins," tasks that require minimal brain power but will still make you feel accomplished, explains Keita Williams, the founder and chief strategist of at Success Bully, an accountability program.
"When I feel like I just cannot get motivated, I start with the easiest thing that I can do to help me get the quick win," says Williams. "When I get the quick win and start picking up that momentum, then I move onto the next thing, and that's how I structure my day."
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