Some money moves take a lot of planning — most people don’t just up and buy a house in an afternoon, for example. But others you can accomplish in just a few minutes, even at work. Tomorrow, as you’re sitting at your desk, having your morning cup o’ joe and contemplating what to attack first on your daily to-do list, log into your employer’s HR portal and your bank’s website and quickly take care of a few — or all — of the items below.
1. Contribute to retirement accounts
Have an automatic payroll deduction program through your employer? Use it! Have the ability to send money each month from a checking account to a traditional or Roth IRA? Do it!
Getting into a routine of saving money now will only benefit you in the long run, especially when life gets even crazier than it already is (as in marriage, kids, more work as you climb the ladder). You’ll already have a great saving habit in place, so you won’t need to worry about playing catch-up later.
2. Make sure you’ve designated beneficiaries
Many workers neglect to name a beneficiary for their IRA, 401(k) account or other retirement savings. This is your money. You’re entitled to leave it to whomever you want, so make sure your wishes will be followed.
3. Save for emergencies
Create an automatic debit and start building a rainy-day fund. Even if it’s only $25 a paycheck, start saving now! Many banks let you set up automatic transfers from checking to savings right from your phone.
4. Look for a commuter benefit
Do you drive to work and pay for parking? Take a bus or train to work? If so, check whether your employer offers any type of commuter benefit. Sometimes these benefits aren’t well known around the office; do a little research on your employee portal, and you just might find you have the option!
5. Check your 401(k) allocation
Make sure your 401(k) contributions aren’t going into a money market fund. This is a common mistake, since some plans designate a money market fund as the default election, meaning your contributions go there unless you specify something different. The problem with money market funds is their low returns. If your retirement is still a ways off, you want the power of compounding returns working for you. A better option is a target date fund that will give you a diversified mix of investments that changes over time as you get closer to retirement.
Small changes can lead to big results over time. Once you’ve done these steps, go reward yourself with another cup of coffee, or that doughnut in the break room you’ve had your mind on.
Want to get into better financial shape all around? Take the Mosaic Financial Fitness Challenge and learn how to go from financially flabby to financially fit!
Learn more about Megan on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor.