Financial Fitness: The Five Minute Workout

Getting in really good financial shape takes time and effort, but there are a few things you can do quickly and easily to shape up. Here they are, in no particular order. If you have great financial quick tips of your own, share them in the comments below.

  1. Stay Positive! Stop talking about how broke you are.
    Focus on the positive and you will decrease your stress which allows you to think clearly – and thinking clearly is exactly what you need when financial planning. Money Crashers offers a great list of ten constructive financial planning activities1 which take the focus off of the negative, point out the positives and set you on the path to fiscal fitness.
  2. Check your credit reports annually.
    There was a time when you checking your credit report meant ensuring there was nothing on your report that slipped through the cracks – a late payment, or something that was accidentally misattributed to you because of a similar name or close family relationship. Now you have to be aware and look for deliberate fraud and elaborate identity theft scams. Set up a schedule to check it once a year and stick to it. If you feel you need to check more often, there are several subscriptions and services that can help you2.
  3. Review your autopay schedules.
    Autopay is AWESOME. Autopay lets you schedule payment of bills without even thinking about it, almost guaranteeing that bills are paid in the correct amount and on time, every time. However, out of sight out of mind means you should review your autopay schedule occasionally. Once a year take a look at your scheduled payments and ask yourself a few questions3.

    • Do you really need the service for which you’re paying? Are you using that gym membership or premium shopping service?
    • Are you paying extra fees that you could avoid by paying this one bill manually?
    • Have rates changed such that you should increase your monthly payment?
    • Should you shift things around so you can deposit more money into savings each month by scheduling an autopay out of a different paycheck or at a different time of the month?
  4. Trim your wallet and cut the cards!
    How many cards do you carry with you on a given day? Four? Eight? Ten or more? Limit yourself to carrying one, maybe two cards. Carrying the card with the lowest interest and/or highest rewards potential is a good idea. If you’re running a specific errand to a particular store, only carry the card you need at that store to help avoid costly impulse purchases elsewhere.