By Ashlee Ogrzewalla, CFP®, Vice President and Manager of Financial Planning & MarketingPrint This Post
Have you ever taken the time to track the amount of time you spend on your routine activities during the day? I did, and it was shocking! After work, eating, sleeping, running the kids around, and occasionally sneaking in an exercise, I averaged THREE hours a day to accomplish everything else on my to-do list.
I suppose the comforting news is that I’m not alone in the struggle to find enough time in the day. It turns out many people have less than five hours on a typical weekday to manage everything in their life, including personal finances. Weekends are even more hectic with household chores and family activities.
How do you take charge of your finances when time is at a premium? Incorporating “low-maintenance” strategies to simplify financial tasks and investment decision-making is a great start.
Below are ten time-saving financial management strategies:
Automate Everything You Can
Consider automated bill-paying for insurance premiums and utility services (e.g., phone, electric, water) and other recurring bills and automated deposits into saving and investment accounts.
Invest Automatically at Work
Participate in your company’s tax-deferred employer retirement plan (e.g., 401(k), 403(b), 457, or TSP). Contribute as much as you can and increase your contribution whenever you receive a raise.
Depending on your portfolio strategy, an option may be to automatically reinvest mutual fund dividends, individual stock dividends, and capital gains into additional shares instead of taking a cash distribution.
Set Up Holding Accounts
Plan proactively for periodic household expenses, such as property taxes, upcoming renovations, and water bills, and set aside monthly savings until the bill comes due.
Make Payments Less Frequently
Pay insurance premiums annually or semi-annually instead of quarterly or monthly. You will write fewer checks, and you’ll also save money on service charges and postage.
Share the Load
If you have a Type A personality (as I happen to have) it can be challenging to delegate tasks to others on your team. Whether at home or in the office, set a goal to train someone you can trust to accomplish the items that might not best use your time.
Invest a few hours in setting up an organized filing system so you can find things when you need them and have a place to put tax receipts and essential family records. Also, complete a digital assets inventory.
Adopt a One-Touch Paper System
File, shred or act on mail (e.g., pay bills), including financial documents, as soon as it arrives instead of laying it aside in piles and having to re-read them.
Reduce Junk Mail
Lessen the volume of “financial junk mail” you receive by contacting the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) to request your name be removed from mailing lists. For more information about stopping junk mail, see the FTC’s website.
Designate a Day
Select one day a year as your personal “financial planning day.” Just do it. Check in with your financial advisor, review the progress of your financial plan, examine updates to your credit report, add up tax receipts, review your will, insurance policies, etc.
If there’s one thing we all need more of in life, it’s time. Time with our family and friends doing the things that make us happy. Simplifying your financial life is a great way to get back some of the time premium you may unknowingly be giving away.