9 Simple Money Moves You Can Make in 10 Minutes or Less

Minding your money doesn’t have to be time-consuming. No, really!

by Carolyn O’Hara • LearnVest.com
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Photograph: hin255/Shutterstock.com

There are plenty of quick and simple steps you can take that can have a positive impact on your financial well-being—like these nine money to-dos that should take only ten minutes (or less!) of your time.

So what are you waiting for? The clock is ticking!

1. Set up an automatic savings transfer.

We all want to save more of what we make, but sometimes life gets in the way. Our best intentions can get waylaid by a busy schedule, a few spending splurges, or just plain forgetfulness.

That’s why setting up an automatic savings transfer from your checking account often can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to get on a better financial path, says David Blaylock, a LearnVest Planning Services Certified Financial Planner™.

How to do it: Most major banks offer automatic transfers online—in fact, it’s often one of the first options you’ll see when you log in to your account.

And you don’t need to be overly ambitious with your savings rate from the get-go. You can start by setting up a recurring transfer amount that you know you can afford—and then try to steadily increase that amount every few months.

Time it takes: Less than 5 minutes.

2. Check your credit score.

Roughly half of Americans don’t know their credit score, which is like the financial equivalent of not knowing your Social Security number. Since it affects the kind of interest rates you’ll get on loans and credit cards, you may find it critical to review your credit score regularly to see how healthy it is.

“It’s like a report card” for your finances, says Blaylock, explaining that it helps give you an idea of whether you need to pay down debt, avoid opening new lines of credit, or close credit cards you have but don’t use.

How to do it: Several online services will provide your credit score from one of the three major credit agencies free of charge. CreditKarma.com offers your score from TransUnion, CreditSesame.com provides your Experian score, and Quizzle.com delivers your number from Equifax. For $19.95, you can also get all three scores through MyFico.com.

Time it takes: Less than 5 minutes.

RELATED: Checklist: I Want to Monitor and Improve My Credit Score

3. Designate beneficiaries.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is leave behind challenges for loved ones after we are gone,” Blaylock says. But this is exactly what could happen if you don’t designate beneficiaries on insurance policies and investment accounts, because it increases the likelihood that family and friends will have to go through the probate process—which typically involves judges, attorneys, attorneys’ fees and delays.

How to do it: You can typically designate a beneficiary online through your insurance provider or brokerage. And it’s a good idea to revisit your beneficiary designations once a year to make sure the info is up-to-date.

Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

RELATED: 3 Money Lessons That My Dad Taught Me … in Death

4. Download a living will.

“A living will is one of the few estate documents that makes sense for everyone,” Blaylock says. Since it spells out your end-of-life medical wishes, a living will is designed to take the burden off loved ones from having to decide if you’d want expensive, life-sustaining treatments—and can help keep conflict between family members at bay.

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