3 Hacks to Make Managing Your Money a Breeze
By Rebecca Lake
Keeping your financial house in order isn't a Herculean task, but it does require some time and effort. If your schedule is so jam-packed that you can't spare a few minutes a week to review your budget, check your credit health or track your progress on saving or paying down debt, you could be letting money slip through your fingers without even realizing it. When you're crunched for time, here are three things you can do to keep your finances on the right track.
1. Automate Your Finances
If paying bills is taking up a good chunk of your day, consider putting your payments on autopilot. When you set up automatic payments for credit cards or other debts, you won't have to worry about paying late and damaging your credit score.
Most banks offer bill payment services at no charge, so it might be a good idea for you to take advantage of these features. Remember, your bills aren't the only thing you can automate. If you're trying to build your emergency fund or pad your IRA and your 401(k), setting up recurring transfers to those accounts is a stress-free way to work towards meeting your savings goals.
Just make sure you're evaluating your accounts regularly to see how much progress you're making and how fees are detracting from your bottom line. If you're auto-saving in an IRA, for example, you'll want to check in periodically to see how your investments are performing and swap out ones that are costing you more than they're earning.
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2. Streamline How You Manage Your Accounts
When you've got two checking accounts, a saving account, a retirement account, two or three credit cards and a mortgage, staying on top of them all can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a number of apps that make it easy to manage your finances.
With Personal Capital, for instance, you can link your checking account, savings account, IRA, 401(k) and investment accounts. The app analyzes your accounts to see what you're paying in fees and recommends ways to improve your investment performance.
Mint is a budgeting app that links your bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, mortgage and investment accounts. You can set up a budget, create goals for debt repayment or savings and get a quick snapshot of your net worth straight from your phone.
3. Consolidate and Increase Your Savings
Using apps like Mint or Personal Capital to manage your accounts can relieve some of your financial stress. But you can take it a step further by reducing the number of accounts you have. If you've got balances on five or six credit cards, for example, transferring them to a single card with a zero percent rate means you'll only have one payment to keep up with and you'll pay less in interest (at least temporarily).
The same goes for those of you with multiple student loans from different loan servicers. Consolidating all of your loans can make them easier to manage and it might shave a few bucks off the final interest total.
Related Article: How to Consolidate Student Loans
When you've got a hectic lifestyle, neglecting your finances is all too easy to do. But that can come back to bite you in the wallet. While you probably can't afford to go completely hands-off, looking for ways to minimize the time you spend managing your money could be a smart move.
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