For most people, there never seems to be enough time in the week to get everything done, let alone making a budget, tracking expenses and managing money.
Let’s face it, when you barely have time to go grocery shopping, in between picking the kids up from school, bringing them to practice, making meals, going to the gym and, oh yeah, working full-time, it’s not surprising that many people put budgeting on the back burner.
The truth is however that if there’s one thing that should be at the top of the “to-do” list, it’s budgeting, tracking your money and keeping your finances in order.
To help, we’ve put together a list of some financial habits and improvements that you can make within a few minutes time, things you can do when you get that occasional break. Enjoy.
The first is simply to read your credit and debit card statements closely every month. It’s amazing how many consumers barely look at their statements but, if you want to have any chance of catching a mistake or, heaven forbid, a sign that your identity has been stolen, checking your credit and/or debit card statements is one of the best ways to do it. If you don’t think it’s important, check this out; credit and debit card monitoring service Billguard.com says that, on average, every American consumer loses over $360 a year to things like unwanted charges, automatic renewals and mistakes.
Check with your bank to see if you can create a “sub-savings account” that you can then use to assign things like home repairs, healthcare costs and so forth. While putting money into one single savings account isn’t a bad idea per se, it’s easier to budget if you do it more specifically, and having a sub-account lets you do that.
Speaking of putting money into your savings, take a few minutes to automate your finances by setting up automatic bill pay as well as having money automatically taken from your check and put into a savings account, IRA or your 401(k) before you even see it. This is one of the best ways to save, especially for people who don’t have the willpower to not spend any cash they have in hand.
One extremely important habit that only takes a few seconds is to check all your receipts against your credit and debit card statements. (We already touched on that a bit above.) You’d be amazed how many times you’ll catch a mistake of a few dollars, or even a few hundred dollars, simply by taking a few moments to check those receipts.
If you have a smart phone, and most people do these days, download a budgeting app to help you set up and stick to a budget. Not only will this show you where your money is going, it will also help you to spend less and save more. (Mint.com is an excellent budgeting app but there are many others.)
Even if you’re incredibly busy, you should still have a few minutes to handle everything we just talked about. It shouldn’t take long at all and might save you quite a bit of money in the long run.