If you had fifteen minutes to devote to fixing something in your personal finances, what would you do? Not sure? Rather than hop onto Google Finance or CNN, may I recommend one of these four fifteen-minute financial fixes? Each one of these fixes has the potential to change your financial future for the better and, should you have done these recently already, consider yourself ahead of the pack.
Check Your Credit Report & Score
Checking your credit report is one of the best things you can do and the best part is that it’s free through AnnualCreditReport.com, the government website set up to help you get your report as quickly and easily as possible. It takes only a few minutes to request and then review your report online, slightly longer if this is the first time you’ve ever done it. If all is well, then you’re done! If there is a problem, then unfortunately it’ll take slightly longer than fifteen minutes (but then at least you know about the problem!).
As for your score, you don’t need to know your score unless you’re making any major changes (job, house, fixing a car). Unfortunately, you don’t get your credit score for free. You’ll have to sign up for a free FICO credit score trial service. Or, you can rely on a service like Credit Karma for a free non-FICO TransUnion score (which is also free and requires no trial or credit card).
Start An Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is something everyone should have, it protects you against any unexpected emergencies and they’re very easy to set up. Just start putting some of your savings into a separate account, preferably an online savings account where you can get great interest, and only tap it if it’s truly an emergency. The general rule is to have six months of expenses saved up, to protect you in case you lose your job, but it doesn’t hurt to have more, especially in this economic climate.
Start A Roth IRA
If you don’t have a Roth, start one right now. A Roth IRA is one of the best retirement vehicles available and you can open an account at a broker in mere minutes. The beauty of the Roth IRA account is that whatever you earn in interest or appreciation is tax free. So you get to invest money from now until retirement and the government can’t take any of it away as long as you follow the Roth IRA rules. That’s why it’s so powerful and why you can only contribute a few thousand dollars a year!
Simplify Your Finances
If you’ve done the first three, then this last one is an ongoing project you can bite off in 15 minute increments: simplify your finances. If you’re like me, you probably have a bunch of bank accounts, credit cards, brokers, and other accounts that you’ve acquired over time. Start simplifying your life by consolidating or closing some of those accounts. Do you really need so many of them? The fewer accounts you have, the less time you need to spend managing them. The fewer you have, the less likely you’ll forget them. Take fifteen minutes to close out one account a week and in a couple months your life will be so much easier!
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.