Summer is here, and you have things to do. There are bonfires to attend, vacations to take and books to read. Who wants to waste valuable time thinking about money?
Fortunately, you can have a lazy summer by the pool and still be financially responsible. You simply need to follow this handy guide to money management. It covers what you need to do if you want to spend less time balancing the budget and more time perfecting your golf swing.
Let your bills pay themselves
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Let’s start with the most obvious lazy way to manage your money. I’m talking about online bill-pay. Virtually every bank and credit union has it, and if yours doesn’t, then it may be time to shop for a new financial institution.
Bill-pay services will link to online accounts, receive paperless statements and automatically pay bills on the due date. If your biller doesn’t offer compatible paperless statements — looking at you, city water bill — then you can simply set up an automatic payment to go out each month at a specific time. Paying bills doesn’t get any easier.
Bundle services whenever you can
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Now, bill pay services are fantastic, but you do have to enter in all your billers’ information. What a pain. Make it easier by bundling whatever services you can. Why send payments to separate companies for auto, home and life insurance when you could deal with one company for all three? Same goes for your phone, internet and cable television.
Bundling services isn’t just a lazy way to manage your money, it’s a smart one too. Most companies give discounts if you purchase more than one service from them.
Grow your savings effortlessly
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We all want a savings account stuffed with cash, but that involves transferring funds or making withdraws from one bank and depositing it in another. Such a hassle.
Instead of actively moving your money around, set up a direct deposit from your paycheck into your savings account. Many employers allow workers to split their paycheck between multiple accounts. Send part of yours to savings; you’ll never miss it. If that’s not an option, banks often let you set up automatic transfers that are almost as good. Get lazy, and watch your savings account grow without any effort.
Use automated budgeting tools
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Let’s talk about the mind-numbing work of budgeting. Puh-leaze. We’d rather listen to a 15-hour loop of Kenny G tunes than spend a sunny summer day trying to make our income and expenses balance. Or at least most of us feel that way.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend your days toiling over a spreadsheet. Thanks to online budgeting tools such as Mint, YNAB and PowerWallet (a MoneyTalksNews partner), there is no reason to bother with math when summer fun beckons. After a quick set-up, these programs will automatically sync with your bank accounts, categorize your spending and create reports for you to review later.
Ditch the debt and consolidate your cards
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Debt isn’t just expensive. It’s time-consuming too. And if you have multiple credit cards that are charged to the max? Cross a relaxing summer off your calendar. Instead, you’ll be juggling multiple due dates, trying to remember which one won’t be declined and hoping your interest charges don’t send you to bankruptcy court.
The lazy way to manage your money is to simply get rid of the debt. If you need a card for business or because that seems easier, consolidate to a single account. Fewer accounts require less time to manage and let you get on with the more important things in life.
Forget clipping coupons
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OK, so some people loooove clipping coupons. They relish the idea of three hours on Sunday spent scanning ads and finding deals. For them, coupons are a hobby, and that’s perfectly fine. For everyone else, it’s time-sucking drudgery.
Here’s a pro tip: Forget coupons, and buy the store brand instead. The days of mega-deals found at the height of the couponing craze are gone. Sure, some are still available, but for those of you looking for a lazy way to save, going generic is practically as good. No, won’t get the same high as when you walk out with a receipt that says you saved 50 percent, but the bottom line will likely be the same.
Pay less online without even trying
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Buying generic when you’re grocery shopping sounds easy, but what about online shopping? Lucky you. There’s a lazy way to save money online as well.
Rather than searching for coupon codes before making a purchase, you can install a browser add-on such as Honey or Gumdrop that will automatically search for savings and alert you to coupons. Gumdrop will even let you connect to a favorite charity so you can make a donation with your purchase.
Make ‘Subscribe and Save’ your new best friend
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Have you heard of Subscribe and Save? If not, it’s time to make its acquaintance. The service is offered through Amazon and lets you schedule regular shipments of your favorite products. As a bonus, items purchased through this method are discounted 15 percent and ship free.
Don’t forget to ask if you can get your prescriptions via mail order as well. We’re talking major savings there if your insurance company allows it.
Skip the job search, and ask for a raise instead
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You are worth so much more than your boss is paying you. The hard way to solve this problem would be to go find a new job. But since you’re looking for the lazy way to improve your money situation, you’ll want to ask for a raise instead.
Hitting up your boss for more money will require a little bit of effort on your part. You’ll need to research what others are making and craft a pitch to explain why you deserve more. But really, this is way less work than you’d put in searching for new employment.
Team up with neighbors
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Shhhh … don’t let your neighbors know this, but they are one way for you to achieve lazy money management nirvana. Why spend time and money buying and maintaining items like lawn mowers, power tools and ladders if you don’t have to? Borrow your neighbor’s instead.
But maybe they don’t have the item you need. In that case, suggest you both go in on the purchase and share the item. If you really want to be lazy, give them your half of the cash then hit the deck with a margarita while they head to the store to buy it.
Just keep your fingers crossed that your neighbors aren’t as lazy as you.
What tricks do you have up your sleeve for easy money management? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.