simple ways to improve your finances in an hour or less

You can start getting better with money in just an hour.

Managing your money successfully to start accumulating wealth doesn’t require a financial planner or MBA.

In fact, there are several actions you can take today to set yourself up for future financial success — and many of them aren’t even time intensive.

We rounded up 13 simple strategies that won’t take more than 60 minutes to implement, but will significantly better your finances:

Make your finances automatic.
Automating your finances will let you focus on the fun parts of life, rather than constantly worrying about paying the bills on time.
Most bills today can be paid online, and you often have the option of setting up automatic payments. Try automating consistent payments for fixed costs — cable, internet, Netflix, and insurance — so that you don’t have to think about them every month, and never miss a bill. You can do the same for variable costs such as credit card bills, although you’ll want to check in on your account regularly to make sure things are going smoothly.

Making your payments automatic should be an option on your provider’s website. If not, give them a call.

For payments that can’t be made online, such as rent, set up calendar reminders and get in the habit of paying them around the same time each month so that it becomes an ingrained routine.

Look into the benefits offered by your employer.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Many employees don’t fully understand the benefits offered to them.
Employee benefits are often not tapped into, mostly because people don’t fully understand what’s offered to them.

Most companies offer 401(k) plans — a type of retirement account that gives you large tax advantages and allows you to compound more money over time — and in many cases, employers will also offer a 401(k) match, which is essentially free money.

Another employee benefit to consider is a health savings account (HSA), into which you can put pre-tax money and use towards medical costs whenever you want. This option is particularly advantageous for those who are generally healthy and don’t have to go to the doctor’s office or hospital that often, such as 20- or 30-somes without children who are looking to save for future health care expenses. 

Also, if you have younger children, check to see if your company offers a dependent care flexible spending account (also known as FSAs), into which you can put pre-tax money and save significantly on childcare with the tax deduction. In some cases, you’ll receive a debit card from the company to use towards services such as daycare and summer camp. If you’re paying a nanny or babysitter, you can pay them with cash and then apply for a reimbursement from the FSA. 

Take some time to look into company benefits, or call your human resources department with any questions. You might find a useful benefit you’ve been overlooking.

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