How to Manage Your Money When You're Too Busy to Think About It

By Tim Lemke on 15 May 2018 0 comments

We're all very busy these days. If you're working, going to school, or raising a family (or all three!), you may not have the time or energy to concern yourself with finances. It's easy to forget or ignore the money moves that are important in order to gain financial freedom.

You never want to go too long without focusing on money management. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help keep your finances on track even when you're really busy. In many cases, it comes down to automating processes and taking advantage of new technologies.

Here are some great ways to manage your money effectively when you're simply too swamped to worry about it each day.

Set up automatic deposits and transfers

In this day and age, it's easy to put your money where you want it with very little direct involvement. If you have a job, be sure to set up direct deposit for your paychecks if it is available. If you want to save a certain percentage of your money, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings account. You can automate transfers into individual retirement accounts, and even tell your brokerage company to purchase shares of the same investments each month. These automatic transfers can take place on specific dates each month, so you can predict when money is being moved. (See also: 5 Ways to Automate Your Finances)

Simplify your everyday finances

You can free yourself from the work and stress of money management by keeping things relatively simple. If you are careful to always live within your means, saving money is practically automatic. Pay your bills on time regularly and you won't have to concern yourself with things like credit card interest rates or debt payments. Invest largely in index funds and monitoring your investment portfolio is a cinch. If you own your home free and clear, that's one less big monthly payment to worry about. This is not to say that your finances won't require some maintenance, but if you keep things simple, it's not a heavy lift. (See also: How to Manage Money When You Hate Thinking About It)

Outsource it

You may not be able to hire someone for every aspect of money management, but you can get a lot of help. Financial planners and investment advisers not only offer advice, but can also manage all of your investment accounts if you want them to. Accountants can handle most of the work related to taxes. Attorneys can do the bulk of work in estate planning. It's important to understand, however, that none of these people work for free. You need to determine whether the value they bring is worth the expense. (See also: 7 Occasions When You Should Definitely Hire a Financial Adviser)

Use a robo-adviser

Managing investments in an optimal way can require a lot of work and patience. You may know, for example, that you need to rebalance your portfolio regularly, but can never find the time. And who has the patience to find the perfect investment mix?

Robo-advisers are popular because they provide investment management and advice without a lot of human involvement required. They operate using an algorithm, which keeps costs low and makes them a little more accessible to middle-class investors. Robo-advisers can take care of the work of rebalancing accounts and finding the right investments based on your goals. There is usually a cost to using a robo-adviser, but many busy people find them worth it. (See also: 9 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Robo-Adviser)

Use an account aggregator

If you have many different accounts (checking, savings, brokerage accounts, loans, etc.), it can be annoying to track all of the balances and payments. There are several websites and apps that can help you manage this by giving you a view of all your accounts in one place. Personal Capital can be used as an account aggregator, and I personally use Mint to track my accounts. Trim is another one that is growing in popularity. These accounts allow you to track spending and account balances while showing a big-picture view of your money. (See also: These 5 Apps Will Help You Finally Organize Your Money)

Sign up for alerts

I am generally not a fan of smartphone alerts, but they can come in handy when managing your money. Alerts from your bank will let you know when account balances are low and when it's time to transfer money. You can track stocks and receive alerts when they reach a certain price. You can even get alerts with discount codes for stores or restaurants, which is easier than clipping paper coupons. Alerts can be intrusive, but they can also be a great replacement for needing to remember things on your own.

Use limit and stop-loss orders

If you invest in the stock market, you may have an idea of the price at which you'd like to buy or sell a certain investment, but you are far too busy to check prices constantly. Fortunately, most brokers will allow you to set up price triggers that will automatically trade a stock according to your guidelines.

A "limit" order allows you to set a maximum or minimum price at which you'd like to buy a stock. For example, you may want to buy shares of Apple, but would like to wait until the price comes down to $150 per share. A limit order directs the brokerage to automatically buy shares once that price target is hit.

Similarly, a "stop" order (also called a "stop-loss" order) will allow you to lock in profits or stave off big losses. Let's say you buy Apple at $150 per share and want to sell once the price hits $190. A stop order will automatically trigger a sale when the price hits $190. On the flip side, you can also place a stop order to sell once a price goes below a certain level, thus protecting yourself against bigger losses.

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