Teachers should assign How I wasted my summer vacation. It’s a topic that more accurately reflects what actually happens. Most of us look forward to a long weekend, and many of us resolve that we’re finally going to do some long put-off project, that will have tremendous benefits.
Me, my resolution is to power wash the house. Phew! luckily, it’s supposed to rain all weekend.
Projects that don’t get done are generally too big. So, I’m asking you to break it down into something that can be accomplished in less than an hour, and you’ll take a small but significant step forward in your financial life. DO NOT do all 10; plenty of other weekends are coming up.
- Find a financial software program you might actually use and install it. I’ve used Quicken for 20 years now, so I’m a little biased. Other people report they like Mint. Neither of these? Try searching Personal Financial Software and you’ll find quite a few. Don’t think to long—just make one work.For the future: Watch or read one quick start guide. Download one account into it.
- Find out how to access Morningstar online. Many articles and a lot of information is free. In order to (eventually) access deeper analysis, check out whether your library offers access to premium content through your library card. Read at least one personal finance article or watch a video.
- Pull out a statement from your 401k or IRA. Go to Morningstar and read what the analyst has to say about it (“premium” content).
- Read a blog. Don’t believe everything you read, but start somewhere. Don’t get lost, okay? I said one hour. I like:
- Clean out a file. Notice I didn’t say file drawer, closet, or room. I recently cleaned out a file box (ouch!) of records from my dad that’s been sitting under my desk since 2010, when he died. I found nearly $200 in it, squirreled away among Medicare statements. You’ll be amazed at all the stuff you don’t need.
- Install a password manager on your computer. I use the free LastPass and it really improves cybersecurity. Change any of your passwords that are the name of your children, dog, or your birth date.
- Take 15 minutes to identify what good causes you really care about. Instead of giving 10 bucks to everyone who asks, choose half a dozen or less that you really care about and resolve to give to fewer, but more green. It saves them processing and fundraising. Like their Facebook page so you have some idea where your money is going.
- If you’re going shopping over the weekend, resolve not to buy anything major until next weekend, when you’ve had time to think about it. In the meantime, do a little online price comparison.
- You know all those travel points you don’t use? Check out Award Wallet, which (for free) will consolidate and update all your programs on one page. Then make a plan to use them—earn and burn!
- Learn about travel hacking. If you like to travel, you’ll earn more per hour spending a few hours learning how to do this than at most really good jobs. A real money saver, and really—not too hard. Here’s where I started, but there are many sites that can teach you.