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10 Things to Do to Improve Your Finances

10 Things to Do in 10 Minutes (to Improve Your Finances)


We're thrilled to present this smart LearnVest story here on Savvy!

You’re busy. We’re busy. And we’ve all got stuff to do.

It’s that feeling that gets to us: The longer we put something off, the more we continue to put it off. And those small tasks that will help our financial lives can sometimes be the ones that we put off the most.

The key is to keep moving, and pick the low-hanging fruit. To that end, we bring you a few quick wins to get you started.

If you have a spare ten minutes and wonder what you can accomplish in them, stop wondering–here are ten things you can get done.

Clean Out Your Wallet

A clean wallet leads to a clean mind . . . in a manner of speaking. Spend a few minutes emptying your wallet of old receipts and other junk. Here’s what you should keep in your wallet. And here’s what you shouldn’t.

Set Up a $5 Jar

We actually got this idea from one of our readers: From now on, stop spending $5 bills. Instead, store all of the fivers you receive as change, and let them accumulate. After a few months or a year, you could easily have hundreds of extra dollars. (You could do this with spare change, too, but the sums will be smaller and the coins will be a pain to count out.)

For now, pull out a jar or other container, put it on the counter, paste a photo of your dream goal on it (house, family, vacation) and start saving.

Read on for more things to do to improve your finances.

Link Your Accounts to the LearnVest My Money Center

A stitch in time will save nine, but one of the biggest ways to rip through your financial stitches is to go over budget. Make sure that that never happens by connecting your financial accounts so you only have to visit one dashboard to see the big picture (including both your spending and your budget).

Visit the My Money Centernow, and link up your checking, savings, credit card and brokerage accounts — in less than ten minutes, flat.

Motivate Yourself

If you're the kind of person who has trouble sticking to her budget every month, you might just need more incentive. Try setting up a small reward for yourself if you keep to your goals each month.

For example, buy yourself a red velvet cupcake or a bouquet of flowers as a reward for saving a full 10% of your salary that month. This reward shouldn't be expensive — it's more a symbol of success for doing things well. (After all, splurging smartly can sometimes be a good thing . . . here's why.)

Take a few minutes now to choose a prize to give yourself each month as an incentive. Make it the same treat each time to turn this into a fun tradition rather than an excuse to spend at will.

Go on a Commerce Purge

We're constantly surrounded by cries to spend money (flyers, catalogs, daily deal emails), so often the best way to keep these offers out of mind is to keep them out of sight.

The holiday season will slam you with more offers than ever, so register with the National Do Not Call Registry to avoid telemarketers and use Catalog Choice to unsubscribe from all those Lands' End catalogs you never actually asked for. While you're at it, unsubscribe from flash sale emails that encourage impulse buying.

Reserve your email inbox for emails and newsletters that actually help your life (ahem, like LearnVest!). To improve your life further, we’ve launched (and are launching) newsletters to tailor your LearnVest experience. The Market is a weekly newsletter that recaps economic news every week and highlights how it matters to you. Meanwhile, LV Moms will launch in October; it'll be a one-stop place for moms looking to live financially-savvy lives.

Remove a Fee

As a result of new debit card rules that hurt banks' bottom lines, more and more banks are charging extra fees. So, pick up the phone and call your bank to try to get your fees reversed (minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, anything). This whole process should be fast: When you ask to have a fee removed, the answer is usually a simple yes or no, so you don't have to stay on the phone forever like with some customer service calls.

Be in Balance

Yogis believe that physical balance can lead to mental balance, and you can actually improve your mental fitness by working on proprioception, which is your innate sense of your body's movements. Work on your balance, which can keep your brain sharp at the same time it helps you prevent injuries like ankle sprains.

Studies have shown that athletes can significantly reduce their risk of injury simply by balancing for five minutes on each foot every day. So, whether or not you're an athlete, stand for five minutes on each foot to add a little balance to your life.

Set Your Monthly Personal Goal

Tackling your financial goals will feel less work-intensive if you work in discrete chunks. From now on, try breaking up your goals by month. For example, one month you might focus on your health by exercising a ton and eating well, and another month you might focus on your career by networking and taking on more responsibility at work.

Decide now what your goal will be for October. Write it down on a Post-It that you stick to your computer. Maybe even print out and hang up an "inspiration picture" around your work area to keep you motivated.

Mind Your Time

As we always say, time is more valuable than money. Pull out your calendar to see how you've been spending your time over the past few weeks.

Write down the top five things you wish you had more time for, and the top five you wish you spent less time doing. Shift your time priorities wherever you can—pin these two lists to your work area so you don't forget what really matters.

Source: Thinkstock
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