Improve Your Financial Stability In Only 10 Minutes
These moves take less time than a snack break and pay off in big, big ways.
Though we all want to be rich as world famous rappers and have accountants that care for our financial wellbeing, the vast majority of us are not so lucky. In fact, most people in the US live paycheck-to-paycheck.
The problem with this lifestyle is that it's not sustainable. In fact, it's a surefire way to ensure that you will end up being flat broke the minute that you lose your job. Unless you want to be stuck working your entire life, you will need to take some measures to improve your financial standing.
Making your finances healthier isn't that hard. In fact, some of the best moves you can make only take a couple of minutes, and they can pay off big time. The following methods are a surefire way to improve your financial standing and get you prepped for anything that comes your way.
Find out your credit score.
Finding out your credit score shouldn't cost any money, and you can typically find out your score within minutes. Sites like CreditKarma allow you to monitor your credit for free, and also give you valuable tips on how you can improve your credit score.
Conversely, you can also get a free annual report from each credit bureau thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. All you need to do for an official credit report with full details is write a letter to each bureau.
If you're okay with paying a fee, most credit card companies now also offer credit score monitoring perks for a small price. Capital One, for example, has this program and also allows you to dispute wrong information on your credit with the click of a button.
How Long It Takes: Signing up for CreditKarma usually only takes a few minutes. With Capital One, it takes seconds after you login. And, doing it the old fashioned way can take a bit longer - but still under 10 minutes.
How It Pays Off: This can allow you to see if your identity was stolen, and if it was, help you dispute charges and get rid of bad marks on your credit report. Additionally, this gives you a good snapshot of your financial health - and also makes it easier to figure out what your bargaining chips are in the event of a major purchase like a car and house.
Cancel services you don't need.
You'd be amazed at how much money we lose out on by keeping subscriptions services that we really don't use or need. For example, if you are subscribed to Birchbox and no longer actually use the makeup you receive, it's safe to say that you're probably wasting $10 a month.
Take a look at your monthly bills and point out the subscriptions and memberships that you no longer use. Do you *really* need to be paying for that monthly membership for the gym you haven't visited in months?
How Long It Takes: On average, cancelling a membership via online means can take about 5 minutes. Via phone or in-person, it can take about 10 minutes.
How It Pays Off: Depeche Mode was right when they said "everything counts in large amounts." The payoff adds up over time. Let's say that you stop that $20 monthly subscription you have for a beauty box that you don't use. The first month, you only save $20. Within three months, you've saved $60. Within a year, that number tallies up to $240. That's an entire car payment!
Open a savings account, and automate it.
There's absolutely no excuse for not having a savings account today. None. Zilch. Why? Because most banks will allow you to start a savings account as well as a checking account when you sign up, and even offer autodraft savings deposits for free. Moreover, many banks also will encourage savings account openings by waiving fees if you start one with them.
All you need to do in order to start one is to go to your bank and ask to open one up. Some, like Wells Fargo, can do the entire process online if you're already banking with them.
How Long It Takes: It can vary from 10 minutes to around half an hour for most banks.
How It Pays Off: A "no sweat" emergency fund that you can access via your debit card, peace of mind, and maybe some interest.
Put your bills on autopay.
Want to avoid having bad credit or making epic mistakes that cause you to be late on payments? Automate your monthly bill payments, and you won't have to worry about it too much.
Most credit cards, banks, and lenders allow you to automate your payments by linking a the debt accounts you have with them to a bank account. Moreover, many other companies (including subscription services) also allow you to do the same thing.
Better still, most places will do it for free.
How Long It Takes: It should only take around 5 to 10 minutes to put something on autopay via phone. However, most people automate payments by logging on to the company's sites online - and that can literally take seconds.
How It Pays Off: Less stress, more ease of use, and less forgotten payments.
Buy insurance for things that matter to you.
Life throws us all a lot of curve balls. If you're worried about your parents' health or similar issues, your best bet is to look into some life insurance. If you have items that you regularly use for your own side gig, you also may want to look into business insurance in case those items are stolen. If your teeth are yellow, you may want dental insurance to lower dental costs.
You get my drift. It's a payment that saves you a lot of money when the chips are down.
How Long It Takes: Depending on the kind of insurance it is, you can buy it online in as little as 10 minutes.
How It Pays Off: Insurance can pay off hugely in the right circumstances. For example, in the case of a family member's dying, it can help you avoid upwards of $30,000 in debt for a sudden funeral. If you have dental insurance, it can easily knock 50% off of a $1,200 medical bill. Insurance is a lifesaver.
Start a stock portfolio or a Stash account.
Keeping your money in the bank is great and all - but you really should be investing at least a portion of your savings. Thankfully, you don't need to be a stock guru to get started in many cases.
Apps like Robinhood and Stash allow you to learn the ropes of investing without having to take a college course in it. And you only need around $5 to start making your money work for you.
How Long It Takes: Having done this myself, I can tell you that downloading the apps and signing up for the service takes about 5 minutes. Actually investing takes seconds.
How It Pays Off: Assuming an AVERAGE return rate of 7% per year, and assuming that you plunk down $100 a month, you will make about $300 extra dollars in 3 years - just from having the money sit in your investments.
Moreover, this can also make for an amazing emergency savings account thanks to its "set it and forget it" ways.
Find a side gig.
Today's economy is not one that guarantees that you'll be in the same job that you're in right now in the next 4 years. If you want to make sure that you're going to be financially stable in the event of a sudden mass of layoffs, you need a side job.
Thankfully, there are plenty of different side jobs you can choose from - including being a contributor to Vocal!
How Long It Takes: Signing up on Vocal takes 2 minutes. Submitting resumes to part-time jobs online can take seconds, too.
How It Pays Off: At the very least, you will find that you'll have a little bit extra at the end of the month. Depending on the side job you choose, it can be anywhere from $35 a month to upwards of $2,000.
Say what you will about the "cool" factor, but clipping coupons and buying in bulk can make a huge difference in how much money you have at the end of the month.
Though the food may taste better at times, shopping at upscale grocers for everything can be a huge mistake on a financial level. Your best bet is to research which products are worth it, and which taste just the same at Aldi's as they do in Whole Foods.
How Long It Takes: Reading up on your favorite foods' prices at each place often can be done using your cellphone, and takes a couple of seconds. Mapping out the itinerary can take around 5 minutes. The shopping? Well, you were going to shop anyway, right?
How It Pays Off: The chart above shows a lot about how much money you could save on each trip, no? And, if you add some nitro to this tip by choosing to buy only foods that are on sale, you'd literally be spending pennies on the dollar.
Drop money-mooching friends.
You know that one friend who never has any cash, and always hits you up for money? Yeah, that's not cool. You aren't a person's bank account, and in all reality, they probably do have money or a way to make money on their own.
Most of the time, people who constantly badger you for cash aren't really friends. If you regularly find yourself footing the bill for them, your best move on a social and financial level, is to slowly fade out from their lives and to start saying no to their demands.
How Long It Takes: Takes 1 minute to say no to a request. It also takes 1 minute to tell them that the conversation is over, and 1 second to hang up or leave.
How It Pays Off: Aside from finding yourself with a lot less drama, you'll also notice that your bank account will be way fuller when you're not footing the bill for everyone around you.
Yes, having a professional tax preparer do it can save time, but it's not always the best option for people who are working on a shoestring budget. Many of these places will charge you per filing. If you are a freelancer, going to a place like HR Block can easily cost you as much as a month's wages.
How Long It Takes: It usually takes around 10 minutes to find an online tax service that lets you file for free. Doing the taxes can take about 30 to 45 minutes, though.
How It Pays Off: Saving hundreds of dollars in tax prep fees per year is great, but the real thing that pays off here is knowledge you get from doing your own taxes.
Be honest with yourself. Have you ever really sat down and asked yourself where you want to be in 10 years? Moreover, have you ever really, truly sat down and looked at what you'd have to accomplish in order to get there?
If you haven't, you need to. And, you need to stick to those goals and work towards them.
How Long It Takes: The bare-bones of goal planning can take as little as 10 minutes, and that's a start. Putting together a financial budget, on the other hand, can take an hour or longer.
How It Pays Off: Getting motivation to actually work on things you want is priceless, in my opinion.
Switch a night out for a night in with friends.
Clubs, bars and fancy restaurants are glamorous, but most of the time, they burn a massive hole in your wallet. Between the $20 cover charge, the $10 drinks, and the insane amount of money you have to pay to Uber from the club back to your house, a single night out can easily turn into $100 being flushed down the toilet.
Though you don't have to stop going out altogether, it is a financially smarter decision to switch at least one night per month to an "indoor" night. Ask friends to bring booze and other party favors, stock up on $4 wine bottles, cook up a pot of pasta, and you have a great party night just waiting to happen.
How Long It Takes: 30 seconds to send out a mass text with the idea, 20 minutes at the liquor store, and 5 minutes to boil pasta. (If you want to fancy it up with a nicer meal, it may take longer.)
How It Pays Off: These parties are actually way better for bonding than a typical club night is, and you also don't end up spending a ton of money just trying to bribe the bouncer into letting you in.
Oh, and you also don't have to deal with club drama. Nice!
Give the goods you use extra love.
Sometimes, the best way to improve your overall financial wellbeing is to take care of the stuff you already have. Home and car maintenance aren't the most fun things in the world, but they can make a world of difference after a couple of years of TLC.
How Long It Takes: Getting an oil change only takes 10 minutes, and mopping your kitchen takes around 10 as well.
How It Pays Off: You get more use out of the items that you already have, and you also get a nice feeling of accomplishment.
Open up an IRA.
Most people under 30 don't have a IRA, and that's pretty bad news. Roth IRAs and other retirement funding vehicles are crucial if you want to actually enjoy your later years without having to work at Walmart.
Thankfully, even in our ever-transitory world, you can still figure out ways to get an IRA going. Sometimes you can even get started online. Many banks also have special IRA services, too.
How Long It Takes: It takes 10 minutes to talk on the phone with a professional, or you can do the entire transaction online in less time.
How It Pays Off: You might actually get to retire! Oh, and IRAs also happen to be tax deductible in most cases.
Curb your spending temptation.
We often end up buying stupid stuff we don't need, just because we can. Unfortunately, this doesn't lead to anything good nor is it even a fiscally healthy thing to do.
There are several ways that you can cut your desire to splurge - many of which don't cost a dime. Here are some of the best methods out there:
- Cut up your credit cards. If you usually use credit cards for shopping sprees, you might want to consider cutting them up. Obviously, cutting them is a bad idea if you use them for bills and important daily expenses, but if they're just a tool for splurges, then cutting them can make a huge impact.
- Stop using shopping malls as hangout locations. Staying away from tempting sales is the easiest way to avoid splurging.
- Ask if you really need what you're holding. If it isn't food, water, shelter, internet, transportation, or something similarly crucial, you can go without it.
- Use the 48 hour rule. If you really can't stop thinking about an item after 2 days, it's probably something that's okay to buy.
How Long It Takes: This is instant, really.
How It Pays Off: You will save an insane amount of money by doing this - and it will be a huge relief to your wallet.