Your new year might be off to a good start - your new workout routine is in full effect and your resolution to maintain a positive attitude is improving your outlook on life. It’s good to improve your physical and emotional health, but you also need to improve your financial health.
Personal finance is a topic that’s on a lot of minds, but most people don’t have time to dedicate to their money. Fortunately, improving your finances doesn’t have to consume all your time. In fact, in just 10 or 15-minute intervals you can make decisions to improve your personal finances for the better. And if you don’t have free time at home to fix your situation, use your lunch break when you have a few minutes for yourself.
Here are six things you can do on your lunch break to fix your finances this year.
1. Eat in the office, rather than going out
Make a concerted effort to bring your lunch most days of the week. Even if you only spend $3 a day on lunch, that’s $15 a week or $60 a month you’ll save by brown bagging your lunch. This money can go into a savings account if you don’t already have one, or go toward paying off a credit card.
2. Blog for extra money
I have first-hand experience with this technique. I started my freelance career ten years ago while working a day job. At the time I was primarily looking for extra cash to pay off debt. I found a simple blogging job that required a 250-word post each day of the week. After doing research the night before, I spent 30 minutes each lunch period writing my post, and I made an extra $20 a day. In a month’s time I earned $400 on my lunch break.
3. Check your credit report
Staying on top of your credit is crucial to a strong financial foundation, and you can start by checking your credit report for accuracy. It doesn’t take much time to pull your credit report. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free report from all three credit bureaus. Provide personal information, such as your name and Social Security number, and then answer a few short questions to confirm your identity. In less than 10 minutes you can gain online access to your credit reports.
4. Read blogs about personal finance
Rather than shoot the breeze with your co-workers, use this time to educate yourself on personal finance techniques. Whether your goal is to pay off debt, build a rainy day fund or better manage your money, reading articles and getting expert advice or tips can point you in the right direction and help you recognize decisions that can harm your personal finances.
5. Create a budget for the week
Creating a budget or spending plan is the best way to keep your money on track and avoid overspending. Use your lunch break and create next week’s budget. Decide how to allocate funds, set up reminders for upcoming bills, and make adjustments as needed to ensure you have enough to cover expenses.
6. Cancel a service
Reducing monthly expenses frees up cash for other purposes, such as debt elimination. On your lunch break, make a list of services you pay for each month from cable to gym memberships. Rank these services in order of importance and then decide which ones you can live without. Cancel the ones you don’t need and put the savings into a savings account.
Improving your personal finances is a gradual process, so it’s not something you can do overnight. If you take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to evaluate where your money goes, you can make smarter decisions and improve your financial outlook this year.