Five-Minute Personal Finance Tasks

5-minute personal finance tasksYou know how sometimes papers just pile up on your desk? And you look at them and think ugh, because you just don’t want to take the time to go through all that?

Well, don’t take the time. Take a few minutes and just deal with one or two papers instead.

Break it down

Often what happens is that the act of starting the task is all I really needed to do to get going and finish it up.

Then there are the times when I have a whole bunch of things to do, but only a few minutes of spare time.

In both of those cases, I’ve found that breaking things down into little five-minute tasks really helps.

Personal finance-related tasks you can do in 5 minutes or less:

  • Shred a stack of old paperwork.
  • Sort a handful of bills into piles.
  • Grab a new file folder and label it.
  • Put a previously-sorted pile of paperwork into your newly labeled folder
  • Enter today’s receipts into Quicken (or into whatever you use for tracking.)
  • Sort today’s mail. Put junk mail in the recycling, and open bills and letters.
  • Pay a bill.
  • Set up automatic payments for a regular bill.
  • Check your account balances online.
  • Make a list of 3 things that would help simplify your financial life.
  • Close an unused bank account.
  • Schedule a date and time to make an appointment with an estate planner. (Or just go ahead and make the appointment now.)
  • Add up how much you spent today on junk food. Are you happy with the amount?
  • Make a list of things you’ve always dreamed of doing that require money.
  • Open an IRA.
  • Look over your credit card or bank statement to be sure there are no unauthorized charges.
  • Make an extra payment to a debt.
  • Send some money to your IRA or savings account.
  • Call your insurance to be sure your coverage is still adequate.

Those are just a few examples. There are lots of little things that can be done quickly that will make a big impact on your financial health if you just keep doing them, a little at a time.


  • 5 minutes – that’s all it takes! Great list.

    Also: After I read this post, I paid 2 bills that came in the mail this morning. Thanks. :D

  • I love this strategy and use it all the time. If I can make a little dent in something it also seems to provide some momentum to really get things done. If you can make a habit out of it you will be taking those small steps all the time that add up to great leaps!

  • “Enter today’s receipts into Quicken”, why not just use mint and save the 5 minutes to spend on something else?

    That being said, breaking tasks down into bite sized chunks is a great way of making them seem more do-able. It’s also good to have a list like this so when you do have a spare five minutes you’re not wasting your time.

  • I have that issue with receipts. Whenever I get one I put it in my wallet so I can break it down in Mint later on. I usually slack on sitting down to go through them so they pile up in my wallet. Eventually it swells like I have it jammed full of singles and only then will I go through them. It would take much less time if I would go through them at a regular basis.

  • iola

    Everything in this list I already do, other than a few that don’t apply. It’s baffling to me how people let this stuff pile up. So really, you need to tackle the pile, then after that deal with things as they come in, or on a certain day, etc. I keep my “to deal with” items in a letter holder next to my computer. When I’m waiting on something to load or otherwise not multitasking, I’ll look through it an assess what I can get out of there right then, or in a moment. I never let mail or trash pile up, but deal with it when it come in the door. It really helps that I’ve reduced the stuff that comes in!

    So to add to this list:
    – Sign up for a “Do Not Mail” list to reduce the junk
    – Call and cancel a magazine or mailing you didn’t request (it takes like 2 mins, maybe)
    – Sign up for paperless bills, with alerts by email, text or app (Mint, Google Calendar, etc).
    – If you have real problems with unwanted mail and the culprit isn’t responding, the Post Office has a form that can put a stop to it.

  • James Stewart

    These are great tips to go by I have found that trying to handle everything at one time does get overwhelming and sometimes I just keep putting it of until I am ready but knowing that by taking at last five minutes at a time really helps lighten the load. So I say give it a go and take some stress away.

  • Jon

    I love this list of short, simple financial tasks. My favorite from your list is “open an IRA” because 5 minutes is literally all it will take. I just opened mine a couple of days ago and I had it funded and invested. That is a 5 minute task that can change your entire financial future. Great post.

  • Thanks for the reminder. I am heading downstairs right now to go through the growing stack of paperwork on the dog cages…