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Money Moves Under 10 Minutes

9 Simple Money Moves You Can Make in Under 10 Minutes

Most of us dread the complexities of money management, but maybe we no longer have to. LearnVest has provided us with nine important yet easy financial actions you can take, all with a running time of 10 minutes or less.

Minding your money doesn't have to be time-consuming.

No, really!

There are plenty of quick and simple steps you can take that can have a positive impact on your financial well-being—like these nine money to-dos that should take only ten minutes (or less!) of your time.

So what are you waiting for? The clock is ticking!

1. Set up an automatic savings transfer.

We all want to save more of what we make, but sometimes life gets in the way. Our best intentions can get waylaid by a busy schedule, a few spending splurges, or just plain forgetfulness.

That's why setting up an automatic savings transfer from your checking account often can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to get on a better financial path, says David Blaylock, a LearnVest Planning Services Certified Financial Planner™.

Most major banks offer automatic transfers online—in fact, it's often one of the first options you'll see when you log in to your account.

And you don't need to be overly ambitious with your savings rate from the get-go. You can start by setting up a recurring transfer amount that you know you can afford—and then try to steadily increase that amount every few months.

Time it takes: Less than 5 minutes.

2. Check your credit score.

Roughly half of Americans don't know their credit score, which is like the financial equivalent of not knowing your Social Security number. Since it affects the kind of interest rates you'll get on loans and credit cards, you may find it critical to review your credit score regularly to see how healthy it is.

"It's like a report card" for your finances, says Blaylock, explaining that it helps give you an idea of whether you need to pay down debt, avoid opening new lines of credit, or close credit cards you have but don't use.

How to do it: Several online services will provide your credit score from one of the three major credit agencies free of charge. CreditKarma.com offers your score from TransUnion, CreditSesame.com provides your Experian score, and Quizzle.com delivers your number from Equifax. For $19.95, you can also get all three scores through MyFico.com.

Time it takes: Less than 5 minutes.

3. Designate beneficiaries.

"The last thing anyone wants to do is leave behind challenges for loved ones after we are gone," Blaylock says. But this is exactly what could happen if you don't designate beneficiaries on insurance policies and investment accounts, because it increases the likelihood that family and friends will have to go through the probate process—which typically involves judges, attorneys, attorneys' fees and delays.

How to do it: You can typically designate a beneficiary online through your insurance provider or brokerage. And it's a good idea to revisit your beneficiary designations once a year to make sure the info is up-to-date.

Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Download a living will.

"A living will is one of the few estate documents that makes sense for everyone," Blaylock says. Since it spells out your end-of-life medical wishes, a living will is designed to take the burden off loved ones from having to decide if you'd want expensive, life-sustaining treatments—and can help keep conflict between family members at bay.

How to do it: Living will requirements vary depending on where you live. In some states, a living will and health-care power of attorney are a single document; in others, they are separate. And some states require that the documents be notarized, while others just mandate a signature. You can research your own state's requirements, and download forms for free, at a site like Everplans.com.

Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Change financial passwords.

If it seems as if high-profile corporate cyberattacks have become the norm, you're not alone in your thinking. In the last year, Target announced that 40 million customers' credit card numbers had been stolen, and eBay encouraged its 145 million users to change their passwords following a major hack.

Bottom line: If you regularly change your money-account-related passwords, you can help limit your exposure to identity theft.

How to do it: Think about setting up a reminder to change your passwords on major financial and investment sites every six months. "And vary it up," Blaylock says. "Then if you get hacked, you may not get everything hacked because you used the same password."

You can also consider using a free password generator, which creates highly secure codes that are harder for hackers to crack.

Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Trim extraneous subscription expenses.

Don't waste your money on a health club membership if you never actually make it to the gym. The same goes for a "Cadillac-level" cable TV package if you only watch a handful of channels.

"I recently went through all of my credit card statements and added up my recurring subscriptions, which came out to $280 a month," Blaylock says. "When I figured out what I really used, I cut it down from $280 to $60."

How to do it: Review recent bank statements and identify your recurring subscriptions. "Then have an honest conversation with yourself about cutting," Blaylock says. If you really miss one of your memberships in the next couple of months, you can always add it back. But chances are that you'll forget all about it.

Time it takes: 10 minutes.

7. Enroll in a 401(k) or IRA.

Saving as much as you can for your golden years is one of the smartest money decisions you can make. And the earlier you start building up that nest egg, the better your chances are of having a secure retirement.

How to do it: Simply request or download a 401(k) contribution form from your employer, or log in to a discount brokerage's website to get information about opening an IRA.

Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

8. Digitize documents.

Even if you have your most important financial documents well organized and in one place, you still don't want to be left scrambling should the unforeseen happen—in the form of a fire, flood or storm that could damage that stash of paperwork.

How to do it: Consider scanning important financial documents—wills, mortgage or real estate deeds, insurance policies and last year's tax returns—and store them on a hard drive or in a secure cloud service online.

Don't have a scanner? Apps like Genius Scan or Scanner Pro allow you to photograph documents on your smartphone and convert the images into PDFs. And premium LearnVest subscribers have access to the Doc Vault, where you can securely store key documents in one convenient place online.

9. Identify savings goals.

Saving money can be difficult on the best of days—especially if you can't see that you're making any progress. But if you separate your savings into different accounts or buckets, you should be able to instantly assess if you're closer to your goal of financing a down payment for a house, paying for a wedding, or affording that dream vacation.

How to do it: You can create dedicated savings accounts for each of your goals, which can often be done online with your bank. Or you can consider opening a separate account with a free online bank that allows you to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to stash money away for specific goals.

Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

— Carolyn O'Hara

Check out these other great stories from LearnVest:
"Student Loans Dashed My Dreams of Buying a Home"
The New Price of Parenting: $245,000
6 Money-Saving Back-to-School Calendars
How to Whip Your Budget Into Shape for Fall

Source: Shutterstock
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