This post is sponsored by Lexington Law.
As the adage by Bill Gates goes, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Likewise, we underestimate what the power of 10 intentional minutes can do for our finances.
In just 10 minutes you could save yourself thousands of dollars a year, protect yourself from identity theft, begin the credit repair process, up your savings, or make a few extra hundred dollars! Don’t believe me? You can improve your finances in 10 minutes with ANY of these tasks. Try it.
10 Ways To Improve Your Finances In 10 Minutes
1. Negotiate a bill.
Nearly every bill you pay each month, from your cell phone to car insurance and even medical bills, is negotiable. The packages vary and companies provide discounts all of the time for various reasons. If you’ve been a long-term customer, chances are you can negotiate a discount.
You can always call and see what a representative might be able to do for you. But it’s best to go into a negotiation prepared. Many times, this just involves doing a quick Google search to see what competitor companies are offering for their packages. Can you get the same package from someone else for $100 less per month? That’s something to highlight in a negotiation.
I recently helped someone reduce their car insurance payment by over $150 per month — that’s $1,800 per year — with a quick comparison of coverage. They had been paying $275 for coverage. I helped them look at other companies for the same coverage and got a quote for $123 (which would have been even lower with only the state-required coverage). This took me all of 10 minutes to do!
2. Check your credit report and get a credit score analysis.
Did you know approximately 79% of credit reports contain errors? Given that stat, there is a good chance yours could be one of them. When is the last time you looked at your credit report? I check my credit report every year during the first weekend of April. I simply put a reminder on my calendar and make it a priority!
Start by accessing yours — you are entitled to a free copy once a year at annualcreditreport.com. You can also purchase your report directly from each of the three credit bureaus. Additionally, they’re frequently included when you sign up for identity monitoring or other similar service.
Go through it line-by-line and verify that each piece of information is correct. Do you spot any accounts that you didn’t open or other incorrect information? This wrong information could be unfairly damaging your credit and might be a sign of a bigger problem like identity theft. When you stay proactive about your credit report, you can prevent more damage from happening to your credit in the future.
In the event that you do come across inaccurate unfair items on your credit report, reach out to the credit repair professionals at Lexington Law. There are some issues you may be able to resolve on your own but having a team advocate on your behalf can take the worry off of your shoulders and give you peace of mind. You also don’t have to wait seven years for these items to disappear off of your report. You have credit rights and should take advantage of them to build a strong financial foundation. I highly suggest contacting the team at Lexington Law for a consultation to see if credit repair is right for you.
3. Calculate your net worth.
Your net worth is an overall measure of your financial success. If you don’t already know your net worth, you calculate it by subtracting your liabilities (debts and money you owe) from your assets (savings, investments, and cash). If you’re already using an online budgeting tool, this is often already calculated for you. It’s accurate as long as you have included all of the relevant information.
One of your financial goals should be increasing your net worth. By using your income to increase your assets through savings and investments as well as increasing your debt, your net worth will increase over time. A study from the Pew Research Center shows that Americans under 35 currently have lower net worths than previous generations bringing into question our ability to retire comfortably. Focusing on your net worth starts with a calculation and then continuing to set goals to improve it!
4. Sign up for identity monitoring.
Identity theft impacts millions of Americans every single year. Incorrect items on your credit report are often the first signal that something is amiss.
When your identity is stolen, it feels like a personal violation. Someone didn’t just take your belongings, they acted in your name and against your will. No one deserves to feel violated. While recovering from identity theft is possible, the sooner you can get ahead of it, the better off you’ll be.
On tool you can use to do so is Lex OnTrack. You’ll be notified of changes on your credit report (aka one of the first indicators that something is wrong!). Plus you’ll have access to your monthly FICO score, credit score analysis (a great asset to improve your credit score), credit repair as needed, and $1,000,000 in identity insurance. It’s better to take 10 minutes for some preventative maintenance than potentially lose thousands of dollars and hours in reaction to identity theft!
5. Evaluate your budget and adjust your savings goals.
When was the last time you gave your budget a once over? Look at the previous six months and evaluate if you’re over or underspending in any category. Is there anywhere you can reduce your spending? What bills can you negotiate over the next month? Getting your fixed expenses as long as possible is important for not only living within your means but increasing your savings as well.
When you look at your bank or credit card statement, are there any small charges that are slipping through the cracks like a subscription service you never use anymore? Now is the time to cancel it.
Are you still spending and saving in-line with your savings goals? I challenge you to increase your savings by 10% over the next six months. Making savings a priority is not only an investment in your future but will keep your spending in check!
6. Open an investment account.
If you’ve never dipped your toes into the investment pond before, it might be about time! Opening an investment account is not as complicated as it sounds and isn’t something to be afraid of!
Robo-advisors make it easy to start investing! They have low fees and are a mostly hands-off approach. Take into account the level of risk you are comfortable with and your target fund date, and they do the rest! One of our favorite robo-advisors is Betterment. It’s easy to get set-up and you can start with just a few dollars!
7. Set up automated payments and savings transfers.
Are your bill payments and savings transfers automated? If no, why not?
Automating your bill payments after you get paid makes sure that you won’t forget to pay the bill or accidentally overspend somewhere else in your budget. If your payments are automated, you’ll be far less likely to not transfer the money. If you leave it up in the air, in a weak moment, you might not transfer it and sabotage yourself. I myself used to do this far too frequently but know that I’m never going to cancel an automated transfer. It’s a system that works!
We are avid proponents of paying yourself first. No one else is going to save for you so it’s important that you save for yourself! Schedule a transfer with a set amount immediately after you get paid to go straight to your savings. And don’t touch it! That money is for the future when you need it.
8. Make a meal plan for the week.
Saving money doesn’t have to be all budgets and phone calls! You can save yourself potentially hundreds of dollars per month by making a meal plan each week. It only takes a few minutes to sit down with a calendar and plan out your meals.
Start by looking at what you already have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. This will prevent you from buying double of what you already have! Build your meals around those ingredients and only plan to buy exactly what you need. This not only prevents food waste (and basically throwing money away) but prevents you from overspending.
9. Declutter and sell what you don’t want anymore.
Decluttering is great for your mind and your space, but it’s also great for your wallet too! Many of us have things hanging around that we paid a pretty penny for and most of these items still have a great resale value.
Take 10 minutes to go through a room in your home, or even your closet, and pick out 10 items you no longer wear or use. Determine which ones you would be able to sell on a resale site. For things you can’t sell, see if they’re worth donating! In the very least, you’ll give some items a new home and end up with some extra cash in your pocket!
10. Calculate what you need in your emergency fund.
Your emergency fund is important because it will keep you floating through loss of income until you can be employed again. It’s suggested to have three to six months in your emergency fund. The exact number will vary person to person.
To figure this out, take the expenses number from your budget and add five to ten percent.
For example, say your expenses are $2,500. Multiple 2500 by .05 to get your additional five percent. Double that to get your ten percent number. So 2500 x .05 = 125. So your expenses plus five percent is $2,625. Your expenses plus ten percent is $2,750. So, three months worth of your expenses in this example would come out to be $8,250. Six months worth of your expenses would be $16,500.
Knowing this number gives you something to save towards, even if you’re not there yet!
So there we have it — 10 improve your finances in 10 minutes! I challenge you to take 10 minutes this weekend to do one of these tasks. Let me know which one is first on your to-do list in the comments!