Studies show you can get an effective workout in half the time by increasing the intensity: a 10-minute high-intensity circuit can potentially burn as many calories as a slow-paced 30-minute workout. As it turns out, we can apply this concept to finances, as well. Few of us have hours to spend on money management (or working out), but we might have 15 minutes. What can you do to streamline and burn the fat off your financial physique in that short amount of time? Here are some ideas.
- Automate your bills
Setting up automatic payments (and reminders) through your bank or services like Mint Bills doesn’t take much time. You will end up saving time by not needing to manually pay bills. You will also waste less money on late fees every month.
- Automate your savings
It only takes a few minutes to set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a high-yield savings account or other investment portfolios you already have, but it can make the difference in gaining serious ground on your debt repayment, short-term savings, or retirement funding goals.
- Consolidate your financial accounts
Most people have multiple bank, investment, credit card and savings accounts. Personal Capital and similar services bring all your accounts and cards into one slim, organized space. Many link directly to your accounts for easy management, as well.
- Consolidate your loyalty cards
Slim down your wallet and never miss out on a discount by loading all your loyalty cards into your phone — Android Pay, Apple Pay’s Wallet, and Samsung Pay all make it easier to shop lighter and still save big (be sure to set a security passcode).
- Ditch paper receipts
Eliminate even more paper clutter with apps like Shoeboxed, Certify and OneReceipt that enable you to scan, store, categorize, and take action with your receipts (such as requesting reimbursement).
- Evaluate your cell phone plan
Wall Street Journal has a nifty tool that allows you to plug in your current cell phone coverage and needs, then shows you what plans from each service provider are the best fit. There are things it doesn’t account for, like service quality and fees, but it will give you a good idea whether you could save money by switching plans or providers.
- Track your subscriptions
One downside of automatic payment options is that it’s easier to lose sight of monthly services you don’t use or want anymore. Take a few minutes install an app like Truebill that will track them for you, inform you of rate hikes or additional fees, and make cancellation as easy as one click.
- Estimate and compare your energy usage
Just a few minutes of filling out information in the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Saver tool can help you get ahead of the home heating season. The service calculates and compares your overall energy usage and then recommends specific energy (and money-saving) upgrades.
- Check your credit report and score
Your credit report contains clues about your financial fitness, and some of it can be embarrassing — especially if you weren’t aware of it. Taking a few minutes to request a free credit report from a reputable service can mean the difference in fixing inaccurate information and reacting to those embarrassing mistakes. Getting your credit score isn’t free, but it’s also quick and worth checking.
None of these simple tasks should take more than 15 minutes, but all of them can improve your financial fitness by streamlining your money management and and burning wasteful spending from your lifestyle.