50+ Mini-Tasks to Improve Your Finances One Step at a Time

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Every new year, we set up big audacious goals that we want to accomplish in the new year. Some how, we are magically more likely to succeed because a digit changed on the calendar. Personally, I subscribe to another theory: achieving financial success is making the commitment to take a series of small steps in the right direction.

How to do this? I have assembled a list of small achievable tasks that you can do to move you in the right direction. Note that not all of these tasks are applicable to everyone, but you should be able to pick out enough things to keep you busy for the rest of the year. My recommendation is to pick 2-3 tasks to do, as you complete each task, replace them with another task. For a task that involves an amount, e.g., “save $50 a month” and “pack lunch to work once a week”, you can also try stepping it up, e.g., save $100 a month and pack lunch to work twice a week, etc.

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I try to order the list in a way I imagine most people would tackle the list; however, don’t feel obligated to do it in order. In fact, the best way to do it is to pick out what you feel is easiest to do and do a few of them.

  1. Check your credit score.
  2. Check your credit reports and fix any problem you discovered.
  3. Make a list of all of your accounts (e.g., bank, investments, mortgages, credit cards, etc.)
  4. Track your income, expenses, debt and investments with Personal Capital.
  5. Start a budget.
  6. Cut recurring expenses (anything that you get billed monthly); especially, subscription services like cable TV, telephone, gym membership, associations, etc. Saving on recurring expenses mean that you will enjoy the savings every month going forward.
  7. Trim features off packages, e.g., cell phone, cable TV, etc.
  8. Be an opportunistic shopper by taking advantage of discounts and coupons.
  9. Organize your debt repayment.
  10. Transfer your debt to a lower interest account.
  11. Borrow money to pay off higher interest debt. There are a lot of people on Lending Club and Prosper doing this, e.g., borrow an installment loan to pay off credit cards.
  12. Freeze your credit cards, if you have a habit of getting into credit card debt.
  13. Or charge everything to your credit cards to maximize rewards.
  14. Eat out less once a week.
  15. Pack lunch to work once a week.
  16. Use up your pantry.
  17. Shop for lower premium car insurance and home insurance.
  18. Increase your insurance deductibles, but make sure you can afford the deductible if something does happen.
  19. Start going to gym at least twice a week or cut the membership
  20. Start a side hustle. Here are another 40+ income ideas to get your creative juice flowing.
  21. Refinance your home. Interest rate is so low right now that it’s worth making the move. You are likely to improve your cash flow and save money in the long run.
  22. Cut land line. If everyone has a cellphone, having a “home” phone may not be worth the extra expense.
  23. Save $50 a month. You can look at your budget or Personal Capital to see your biggest expenses and where you can shave off some expenses.
  24. Start an emergency fund.
  25. Start investing.
  26. Start real estate investing, the easiest way is with a REIT.
  27. Start investing in commodities.
  28. Start investing in inflation protected investments.
  29. Start dividend investing.
  30. Switch to lower cost investments. (Personal Capital will let you easily track investment expenses and you can research lower cost alternatives.)
  31. Reassess your asset allocation and rebalance your portfolio. (Personal Capital will provide you with a recommendation.)
  32. Increase your 401k contributions.
  33. Start an IRA.
  34. Start a 529, if you have a child or if you are planning to go back to college.
  35. Ask for a pay raise.
  36. Volunteer for overtime.
  37. Get a part time job.
  38. Declutter your home, one room at a time.
  39. Sell your unwanted stuff
  40. Get a life insurance.
  41. Get an umbrella insurance, if you have higher than normal risk profile, e.g., you’re a landlord, or people work in your home.
  42. Increase your thermostat by 1 degree in the summer, and lower it by 1 degree in the winter.
  43. Insulate leaky windows.
  44. Transform your home to use less energy — there are 75 ideas here, do the ones that make sense to you.
  45. Save money with cars — there are 34 ideas here, do the ones that make sense to you.
  46. Stop watching prime time news. 99% of it are bad news, so why watch it. Just read about what matters to you on the web.
  47. Adjust your tax withholding.
  48. Shop at Costco, or other warehouse clubs. If you have a big household, this is a good way to save money.
  49. Switch to a better bank (or a credit union).
  50. Save money on health care.
  51. Create a will.
  52. Start living a minimalist lifestyle.

Hopefully, this will get you moving in the right direction, and inspire you to make the list your own by adding more tasks to the list. Instead of making big audacious goals that will fail, why not print out this list and knock out a few things each week?

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21 thoughts on “50+ Mini-Tasks to Improve Your Finances One Step at a Time”

  1. I agree with a lot of your ideas but this year I am going to try and charge everything to my credit cards. That wouldn’t work to well if they were frozen.

    I have been missiing out on lots of free money from my cash back Visa when I debit or pay cash. I am moving my car insurance to Visa and I am figuring out how to get other major expenses on to the card as well.

  2. I see a few I had on my list this year including an IRA and getting life insurance. I had not thought about a will but that’s definitely one to include on my goal list.

  3. Hi,

    Most of those in the list are actually what I am planning to do this year. It is really my ultimate goal to change a bit of my lifestyle and be more sensitive with my expenses.

  4. Great list. In the New Year I always update my financial goals and look for ideas I have previously not been aware of. This past year I have been making a concerted effort to do #6 on your list. I prefer to have as few recurring monthly expenses as possible as I feel it decreases your monthly overhead.

  5. Hey, I signed up for the LendingClub and it turns out I can’t do it from New Jersey. Do you have any experience using it through their partner service that allows New Jersey residents to participate?

  6. Pinyo, It is a good “To Do Task in 2013” list. However, I am already doing some task like INVESTING but rest have to do in 2013. Thanks to give us some good ideas for New Year.

  7. Thanks for the great post! It’s definitely important to keep track of everything especially your credit reports. Last year I found out I had been a victim of fraud (identity theft). Because of the fact that I found out only a week after it happened I was able to fix the issue with my credit report quickly. The rep who helped me explained that the longer a person waits to file fraud (identity theft) the more difficult and lengthy the process is.

  8. I find some of these tips really helpful, however I can’t apply all of them. But I recently switched to a different bank and I always work overtime whenever that’s possible. So just by doing these two things I managed to improve my finance.

  9. Great list. Everyone, even people who are secure and good with their finances, can do at least one of these things. I would add cutting banking costs to this list. GO with a free bank like ING direct, which will save you the fees every month.

  10. Building up an emergency fund is an excellent idea, u never know when you’ll need to dip into it to pay for unexpected bills and items. My view is to save as much as you can. 🙂

  11. shopping for insurance is one of the things that I could probably save the most money. It’s been a long time since last I shopped. Sadly, it needs to be done often or else you wind up overpaying. Definitely, something you can’t set it and forget it.

  12. I did some research on one of my new ebooks I’m writing, I found out the top 8 new year’s resolutions for 2013.

    1. Eat Healthy Food
    2. Get A Better Education
    3. Get A Better Job
    4. Get Fit
    5. Quit Smoking
    6. Take A Trip
    7. Volunteer To Help Others
    8. Debt Reduction

    This was found at USA.gov… And is crazy that Debt Reduction is on the statistic.

    Reading through your list… I really feel number 24 is the most important! You just never know when something could happen.

    Great post! THank you

  13. Awesome list of tips, Pinyo. If people started doing just a few of these they would be well on their way to financial success. Bookmarked!

  14. Wow! That’s quite a list! Some things aren’t apropritate for some people, and others people may want to do in a different order, but it’s a great starting point for anyone.

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