Five Fast Ways to Fix Your Finances
No reason to procrastinate
Straightening out your finances and putting your accounts in order doesn’t have to take all day. In fact, it doesn’t even have to take an hour. In less time than it takes to walk to Starbucks for an afternoon fix, you could get started on the path towards fiscal responsibility and total organization. Here are five ways to make that happen:
1. Automate your payments
You don’t have to automate all of your bills at once, of course, but simply starting with one can make a huge difference in the time you spend writing checks and paying bills each month. Start by visiting the website of your cable company, cell phone provider or electric company, and input your credit or debit card information to sign up for automatic billing. With just five minutes of work, you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment deadline again.
2. Go over your payroll deductions with HR
If your IRS filing status or allowances have changed since you started working at your current job. If you have recently gotten married, divorced, or had a child, for instance, then your employer could be deducting the wrong amount for taxes each month.
Swing by the human resources department on your lunch break and check your allowances to make sure you won’t be left with any surprises come tax season.
3. Increase your 401(k) contributions
While you’re already at the HR office, go ahead and ask to bump up the amount you’re contributing to your retirement plan each month. Even if you can only afford to increase your monthly contribution by $50, investing as much as possible in your 401k is always a smart move.
4. Check the interest on your savings account
Whether you’re thinking of changing banks or wondering whether the rate on your account has changed since it was first opened, it’s worth having a look from time to time. To check the rate on your current account, log onto your online banking site and download your current statement. Visit www.Bankrate.com to compare rates advertised for savings accounts at local competing banks.
5. Use an expense tracking website
Dozens of personal finance websites exist solely to help people keep better track of where their money is going. In as little as five minutes, you can create an account on a website like www.Mint.com. Add your online bank information, and start creating a customized budget of all your monthly expenses. Mint, and many of its competitors, will then send you email alerts whenever there are unusual patterns in your spending or when you’ve gone over your budget on selected categories that month.
Got five minutes? Start putting your finances in order.
Stephanie Miles an award-winning journalist who has been writing about personal finance and real estate since 2006. Find her online at stephaniemiles.com.