30 simple financial tasks to take your mind off the news

30 simple financial tasks to take your mind off the news

Over the past few weeks, CNBC Make It published 30 simple financial tasks to accomplish at home. These are all meant to be easy-to-accomplish, time-sensitive activities to take your mind off of the news for a moment and, hopefully, put you on sturdier financial footing.

Of course, you don’t need to accomplish everything on this list in 30 days. Bookmark this page and come back to it when you have some downtime, or are bored of Animal Crossing and stress-baking.

Here are 30 simple money tasks you can complete today, tomorrow or whenever works for you.

Day 1: Be more intentional with your money

Take some time to write down what you’re spending more money on now, what you’re spending less on and how you’d ideally like to spend your money. This will help you get a handle on what your priorities are now, and if and how they’ve changed from more normal circumstances. 

Day 2: Set up a system to track your spending

Day 3: Make a list of financial habits you’d like to form

Whatever habits you want to form, it’s best to start small. Just as you can’t lift 100 pounds without building up your strength, it would be difficult to transition from saving nothing to saving $1,000 each month. Habits take time to form and hitting smaller milestones can be motivating.

Day 4: Finally finish the financial task you’ve been avoiding

We all have something we know we should do but keep putting off, especially when it comes to our finances. Whatever it is, take 10 minutes to finally get it done. You’ll benefit from whatever the task is and have one less thing to worry about.

Day 5: Make a plan now for how you will spend your coronavirus stimulus check

For many, what the check will go toward will be obvious: Rent, food or other necessities. But if you don’t need it immediately, consider where it could best be used, whether that’s in your savings account or donated somewhere else.

Day 6: Sign up for a personal finance newsletter

Day 7: Figure out if you’re wasting money on things you don’t need

Reflect on your recent purchases and see if your actual spending aligns with your goals. Start by making a list of your best and worst purchases from the past year.

Day 8: Create an essentials-only budget

Day 9: Check your credit score

Day 10: Write down your interest rates

Day 11: Create a personal balance sheet to calculate your net worth

This will give you a better idea of your total financial picture than a budget or expenses spreadsheet because it lists out all of the big picture things you own and owe, not just what you are spending money on day to day.  

Day 12: Protect your money by changing your banking passwords

If you’ve used the same password for many years, or use the same password for many financial accounts, it’s time to change that.

Day 13: Set up daily bank account alerts

Day 14: Donate some of your coronavirus stimulus check if you don’t need the money

Day 15: Create a ‘care budget’ to help support yourself and others without being overwhelmed

Pain relief medicine at a pharmacy. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

John Greim

Day 16: Use your FSA or HSA funds for over-the-counter medications and feminine care products

Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can use your FSA or HSA funds to buy over-the-counter medications without a prescription, including Tylenol and other pain relievers, heartburn medications, allergy relief and more, for the first time since 2011. You can also use your funds for feminine care products, including tampons, pads, liners, cups and sponges for the first time.

Day 17: Don’t forget to get the refunds you’re entitled to

Take time to recoup some of the money you spent on experiences you won’t have now because of Covid-19.

Day 18: Find a better bank account

If you’re paying bank fees of any kind, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of options without any monthly service fees at all and more leniency with other types of charges.

Day 19: Take one thing off of your to-do list for the coming week

With so much to deal with — potential job loss, new living situations and a global pandemic — taking one task off of your to-do list doesn’t mean you will never accomplish it; it’s simply recognizing that there is so much going on that needs constant attention, you may not have the mental energy for any other distractions. And that’s OK. 

Day 20: Join a money community for financial support

Day 21: Prioritize your emergency fund

Day 22: Turn savings into a game to stash away more money

Gamification, or adding elements from game playing, like challenges, competition and scores, can be helpful for your savings rate because it taps into your emotional responses to money. 

Day 23: Create a money mindfulness practice

Instituting a short, daily financial routine can make money feel less like a source of anxiety. Rather than only checking your accounts when something goes wrong, you’re conditioning yourself to do it each day, no matter what. In time, it will become just another normal item on your daily to-do list.

Day 24: Prepare for a spending quarantine

Day 25: Give yourself a break on your 2020 money goals

Day 26: Decide which investment account is right for you

With all of the economic uncertainty happening right now, it might seem like a scary time to start investing. But there is no “ideal” time to invest, financial experts say. Dipping your toes in now, if you haven’t invested before, can help make investing a habit in good times and bad.

Day 27: Schedule a money talk with your friends

Day 28: Protect your retirement accounts when you die

Day 29: Take advantage of your telemedicine options

Day 30: Create a 5-year financial plan

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