Personal Finance 

Six 10-Minute Money Moves That Can Change Your Life

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A lot of times we put something off because we think it will take a long time and be a lot of hassle and a lot of times those things happen to deal with money. Well, if you have ten minutes, you have enough time to do one of the things on this list that could change your life financially for the better (and ten minutes is a conservative estimate, you could finish most less). In less then 15 minutes, Jack Bauer can escape from the grasp of terrorists by biting into a man’s jugular, I’m just asking for ten and for you to check your credit report (#1) – sounds fair right?

  1. Request Your Credit Report – If Congress can spend countless hours (and millions of taxpayer dollars) in debate to pass a law that gives consumers free credit credit reports each year (one from each of the three credit bureaus), the least you could do is spend the fifteen minutes it takes to request and scan over your report. Get your free credit report from the only officially sanctioned website – You could find a mistake that could cost you thousands of dollars in added interest or higher fees down the road. The request itself takes no more than ten minutes so request and print now, review later.
  2. Open A Roth IRA – I wrote a post about opening up a Roth IRA that details every step and the financial impact of doing so. If you want this to truly be a 15 minute move, put the contribution into a Target Retirement/Lifecycle fund and let the brokerage worry about re-balancing it for you.
  3. Participate in your 401K – It wasn’t until recently that folks were automatically enrolled into their company’s 401K plan by default so if you aren’t yet participating, do so and make enough of a contribution to get the maximum employer match. All it takes is a call to your HR department to make it happen – you wouldn’t pass on a twenty dollar bill sitting on the sidewalk, don’t pass it now.
  4. Open a High Yield Savings Account – The typical savings account gives a piddly 1%, get five times that by opening a savings account at any number of FDIC insured online banks like ING Direct, Emigrant Direct, HSBC, Citi, the list goes on and on. As long as they’re FDIC insured (all those listed are), you don’t have to worry. Get the yield of a CD with the flexibility of a savings account.
  5. Split Your Paycheck – Out of sight, out of mind. Have 10% of your paycheck deposited into that high yield savings account and think of it as an “automatic” savings (in the sense that this is one of the ideas from the Automatic Millionaire – set it and forget it Ronco style) and you’ll never know the difference.
  6. Use 0% Balance Transfers – Use a 0% balance transfer (list of 0% bt cards) to pay off an existing credit card balance, it takes only a few minutes to apply for a card and a few minutes to do the transfer (I’ve found Citi has the easiest balance transfer process). The little brother to this tip is to just call up your credit card and asking them to lower your interest rate, saying that you could always just try a 0% balance transfer and leave them. Between 0% balance transfers and asking, Tricia from Blogging Away Debt went from $400/mo in interest to a mere $100 – that’s $300 that can go towards principal.

Don’t read anymore, go do!

{ 16 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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16 Responses to “Six 10-Minute Money Moves That Can Change Your Life”

  1. Clever Dude says:

    Can I have more than one Roth IRA? Do they count my yearly contributions as a combined total among all my roth IRAs?

    What do you think about contributing to a 401k even if the company doesn’t match until your 1 year anniversary?

  2. jim says:

    Your total contribution each year towards a Roth IRA can’t exceed your limits ($4,000 for most), I suppose you could have more than one (I don’t know this for sure) but it could get complicated for you.

    I contribute to my employer’s 401k and there isn’t even a match. You should do it so that you’re saving a little bit of money for your retirement at the very least I think.

  3. RootAnn says:

    Clever Dude: My husband has more than one Roth IRA. To keep things simple, he only contributes to one each year. Each is with a different investment company and has different choices.

    It is good to contribute to 401ks even if your employer doesn’t match (mine never did). In your case, it is good to get into the habit now and when the employer starts kicking in the match – it’ll make your balance look even better. Also, if you start now, when you get your next raise (which I’m sure will be soon, since you are a ‘clever dude’), you can increase the amount you are contributing by a little bit (1-3%). If you didn’t start until the match kicks in, you would probably start at a lower contribution rate (where you started now, before the raise increase). Saving without the pain!

  4. I would have placed “pay off debt” as number 6 and use the credit card as an example of how to possible do it – the transfer will be of little help if you don’t make the commitment to pay off the debt…

  5. Tinyhands says:

    Individuals can hold and contribute to more than one Roth IRA in the same year as long as the total contribution doesn’t exceed $4000 ($5000 for over-50). You could put $1000 into 4 different ones ($500 into 8, $1k/$1k/$2k into 3, etc) if you had a good reason for doing so.

    Individuals can also contribute to the different kinds of IRA in the same year as long as the total contribution doesn’t exceed $4000 ($5000 for over-50). You could put $2000 into a Traditional IRA and $2000 into a Roth IRA (and myriad other combinations). Again, if you had a good reason for doing so.

    Although habit is a good reason for participating in a 401k, even without the match you still enjoy the tax-deferral benefit (assuming it’s a qualified plan, as most are). 401k contributions, like rollover distributions from previous employers, have no impact on IRA contribution limits.

  6. Dustin says:

    I have always called Split your Paycheck “Pay Yourself First”. I really like this idea. In fact I do it with my Roth.

    I would also have to add purchasing a home to this list, but then again that doesn’t take just 10 minutes.

  7. Jason says:

    In addition the getting your credit report, I think most people would like to see their credit score. Most companies have charged for this in the past. However, I noticed the other day that E-Loan is now offering a free credit score to anyone.

  8. twins15 says:

    Finally got around to requesting my credit report… thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  9. Ben says:

    I’ve done all but 0% Balance Transfers. I read a lot about it but I’m still not sold on this one. Doesn’t it hurt your credit to sign up for all those credit cards?

  10. Tim says:

    Just remember the limitations on RIRA based off of AGI’s.

    Second, since you can get one credit report from each company a year, it is advisable to only request one credit report per quarter. this way you can monitor your credit history for free for the whole year under the free annual credit report law.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Great post!
    In terms of having more than one Roth IRA, I think it’s a great idea. I have an international index fund Roth and now I also have a domestic (well, mostly domestic) index fund Roth IRA.
    The one problem with having more than one is that it is difficult to open a new Roth IRA because most funds have an opening minimum of $3000 which is 75% of the yearly max of $4000.
    However, it’s possible to reach this by opening the new one between January 1st and when you file your taxes because you can contribute from both years (so right now you could contribute for both 2006 and 2007.) I wrote a post about how to do this here:

  12. Weekly Roundup – 03/02/07

    Here’s a quick look at some of the articles that caught my eye over the past week:

    FMF shed some light on how they’re budgeting for their Disney trip. If they were regular visitors (doesn’t sound like they are, though) I’d rec…

  13. Keith says:

    Doing the balance transfer bit will hurt your score for a lttle while (new revolving credit). But if you have enough credit card debt to need to do it, you probably won’t be applying for loans anyway.

  14. Logan L says:

    I just read about how we should take advantage of 0% balance transfers. STOP!!!!! I have been in the debt and credit industry over 10 years and this is one of the biggest mistakes you can ever do. It shows me the little actual knowledge that the author portrays. #1 a balance xfer is opening a new line. Many peolpe today are using these to shuffle their debt and are not paying down the balance. The credit card companies, especially Citi and Boa, are notorious for offer 0% transfers for a year, but in the fine print you will read that if the balance isn’t paid off by that term then they will add on the whole terms worth of interest (usually a high rate!)
    #2 If you do a balance transfer you will not be able to enter a non profit Credit Counceling program which many of the banks are offering 0% on anyways.
    #3 If something happens after you do a balance transfer, and cannot make at least 6 payments on it you are performing FRAUD.
    #4 If you do balance transfers and cannot pay them off, the bank will not settle the debt if you endure a hardship.
    I can go on and on. You guys should hire me to write these articles, I guarantee your comments here will hurt more people than help them.

  15. Nate says:

    #5 I can’t recommend this enough! I have $100 taken out of every check and I can’t count the number of times it has saved me from relying on a Credit Card to pay for some emergency expense (car problems, broken teeth etc)

    One of the other things I like to do is have a bit taken out for other savings goals and put into different ING accounts. One of the goals was a trip to europe and we are finally going next month!!, I hardly even missed the money from my checks.

  16. aua868s says:

    i do all of these…cool

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