I’m big into New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s because I love fresh starts and clean slates.
This year, I have a few resolutions. First and foremost: If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now.
It’s surprising how many things we put off that could get done in 5 minutes. For example: calling to make a doctor’s appointment. Or unloading the dishwasher. Or deleting junk email. The list goes on and on.
Turns out, most of the things that you procrastinate on aren’t actually difficult or time-consuming – you just avoid doing them because they feel like a pain in the neck. But crossing a small to-do off your list can offer an outsized peace-of-mind reward because it clears mental clutter and makes you feel that you accomplished something. There’s also some evidence that this approach sets you up to achieve bigger goals, too.
In the spirit of making good on financial resolutions both big and small, here are 10 ways you can get your finances on track in the next 5 minutes or less.
- Sign up for an IRA.
- Unsubscribe from 3 online retailer emails.
- Check the beneficiaries on your 401k to make sure they reflect your spouse or kids.
- Set up automatic bill pay—no more late fees!
- Take the first step in teaching your child about money. Snag this cool piggy bank that helps kids understand that money can be used for 4 things: saving, spending, donating and investing.
- Sign up for paperless communications with your bank.
- Change your light bulbs to CFL bulbs. They last 10 times as long, use 90% less energy, and can save you $40 over the lifetime of the bulb.
- Sign up for a 529 account to start saving for your child’s college education.
- Remove 2 credit cards from your wallet, and put them in a drawer where you’ll forget about them.
- Create a Pinterest board called “My Retirement” and start pinning photos of what you want your retirement to look like. Refer back to the board when you’re feeling down, to remember what you’re saving up for.
The clock starts now. What can you do in the next 5 minutes?
Jessie Szymanski writes about personal finance for The Blog.