10 Smart Things Moms Can Do for Their Money in Just 10 Minutes

woman doing online banking

In busy day-to-day mom life, lots of things fall by the wayside, from healthy eating and exercising to putting off doctor appointments and, you know, showering. But when it comes to finances, the repercussions of lackluster money management can affect the whole family when goals such as saving for retirement or paying off high-interest credit card debt are neglected. While making huge, sweeping changes to the way you manage your money is an overwhelming prospect, small changes can reap big rewards, allowing you to maximize your savings for the important stuff and improve your spending habits so you can enjoy the things that matter most. 

With that in mind, here are 10 smart things you can do for your money in 10 minutes.

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1. Download the app from your financial institution. It's easy to bounce a check if you’re not carefully tracking your expenses with a money management program. Fortunately, most major financial institutions have apps you can download onto your phone so you can easily check your balance anytime, anywhere (and decrease the likelihood that you will spend money you don't have).

2. Create emergency savings accounts online. Most likely, you have a checking account, and you may even have a general savings account. But if you don’t have a separate emergency fund that you’re contributing toward, you might have to rely on a credit card when the unexpected bill or financial emergency -- such as a car accident deductible -- arises. Creating a savings account online is easy, and at many banks, it's free, too. Link your new savings account to your checking account, and start adding money to it monthly or bi-monthly to build it up.

3. Put your credit card on ice. The first step to getting out of credit card debt is to stop using your credit cards. If keeping a credit card in your wallet is too tempting, consider putting yours on ice (or cutting it up). Just don’t cancel it -- that could have a negative impact on your credit score.

4. Stash away cash for a fun night out. One of the best tips I got about saving fun money was to pick a drawer in my desk and start stashing spare cash in it (pocket change and a few dollars here and there). Now, I keep an envelope in that drawer, and every time I make extra, unexpected income, I put money into it. Last time I checked, I had stashed away $200 -- which will come in handy when I need to treat myself to a mommy night out (or two).

5. Cut out one thing you don’t need. The smartest way to save money for the things you really truly want is to not waste it on the things you don't. After having my second baby earlier this year, I had to take a good, hard look at my non-necessary expenses. And while I refuse to give up my twice-weekly spending on fancy coffee, I've decided that I don’t need to buy a bikini every year, and I cancelled two magazine subscriptions.

6. Set retirement to automatically increase each year. When you get an annual raise, it may be tempting to spend the extra cash on something new. But by going online and setting up your checking account so that a certain percentage is automatically deducted and put toward retirement -- and setting it up so that percentage increases on a given date -- you cut out the hassle (and psychological woe) of manually withdrawing the money from your checking account.

7. Apply for a credit card with a lower APR. High interest rates can thwart all well-intentioned plans to pay off your credit card debt. The fastest way to pay down balances is to transfer them to credit cards with low introductory APRs -- and right now interest rates are especially low, so there are plenty of 0% Introductory APR offers (make sure you read the fine print to avoid things like annual or balance transfer fees).

8. Negotiate a lower cellphone bill. Are you using all of your voice and data minutes on your cellphone plan? If not, call your service provider: Chances are, you can reduce your phone bill by cutting out add-on services or minutes that you don’t use (and don't need). Or your carrier may be able to offer you a reduced rate in exchange for a new, two-year service commitment.

9. Start tracking expenses. How much do you spend a month on eating out? On gasoline? On incidentals? By using an expense-tracking app, you can log your expenses as you incur them and download everything to your smartphone -- and see exactly where you’re spending too much. 

10. Set financial goals. Whether you’d like to save money for your kid’s college fund, afford a new home one day, or take the family to Peru next summer, setting a specific goal can help you visualize your dreams and start thinking about the steps you need to reach them.

What's the smartest thing you've done for your money lately?


Image ©iStock.com/alvarez

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