7 Ways to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Time to Think About It

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Between work, family and social commitments, exercise and volunteer work, I’ve got a lot on my plate.  

When I do get a rare and cherished minute to myself, well, the backlog in my Netflix queue isn’t going to watch itself.

What I’m trying to say is everyday I’m hustlin’.

Money Management Apps and Tips for Busy People

Being extremely busy doesn’t fly as an excuse when I have bills to pay and retirement to plan for.

Fortunately, I found a few ways to keep my finances in order no matter how busy I get.

1. Invest in Your Dreams

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

While I’m busy working to pay bills and pay off debt, it’s nice to make a little passive income along the way.

It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money.

Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.

But Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000.

Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money — but it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it.

You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

Bonus: Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to fund your first investment — so you’ll get a $5 bonus to get started!

2. Check Your 401(k), OK?

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

I have a serious case of wanderlust, so my long-term plans include traveling the world.

To make that happen, my retirement plan needs to work as hard as I do.

Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm, will optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

It gives you an initial 401(k) checkup for free, and you’ll get to know your account a little more intimately. Find out if you’re paying too many hidden fees, have the appropriate amount invested in stocks versus bonds, that kind of fun stuff.

After that, the tool is $10 a month to use to continue to monitor your retirement account. Let Blooom know your target retirement age, and it can help you get there by investing more and less aggressively.

3. Avoid Next-Day-Price-Drop Distress

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

I save a lot of time by shopping online for groceries and household essentials, but it’s a real drag when the price of something I just bought drops the day after my delivery arrives.

Many online retailers will refund the difference between the sale price and your purchase price, but I don’t have time to patrol the internet watching for price changes.

I use Paribus to take over the task for me.

Paribus is a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping.

Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

4. Round up to Save up

Woman talking on the phone and carrying groceries
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

I try to be mindful of overspending with my debit or credit card, but some things — like groceries and gas — are necessities.

I figure if I have to spend money, I might as well find a way to effortlessly bulk up my savings while I’m at it.

Acorns is a simple savings and investment app that rounds your credit or debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the digital change.

You can connect the app to your credit or debit card and let it automatically round up all your transactions, or manually round up only the ones you choose.

Once your roundups reach $5, that amount will be transferred from your bank to your Acorns account and invested into your chosen portfolio.

The great thing about Acorns is you probably won’t miss a few cents here and there, but the amount you can save adds up quickly if you use your debit card to pay for everything, like I do.  

You can sign up and download the app here.

5. Ditch the Drive-Thru

Detail of a salad
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

I love to cook, but I could happily eat pizza and tacos five nights a week if it meant not having to make dinner at the end of a long workday.

But shelling out my hard-earned money every night for mediocre takeout food won’t help me reach my financial goals.

Make-ahead dinners are my go-to for keeping myself fed when I’m too tired to cook without resorting to pricy drive-thru meals.

The internet is fully-loaded with make-ahead meals for every dietary need and level of cooking experience, but here are 12 tasty freezer meals to get you started.

6. Multitask for Extra Cash

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Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

When you’re trying to get the upper hand on your finances, sometimes it makes sense to bring in some extra dough to pad your savings account or emergency fund.

While a side gig would get the, ahem, job done, let’s be real. I don’t have room in my schedule for any more hustle.

Instead, I look for ways to make money while I go about my daily life so I can multitask my way to financial security.

Some things I’ve considered include making money while I sleep, work out or take a vacation.

But my all-time favorite ways to make some extra cash involve sitting on my couch.

Don’t let your busy schedule discourage you from getting your finances in order. You don’t need extra hours in your day, just a few apps and a willingness to think outside the box.

7. Track Your Transactions

Woman looks at her phone at work
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

One of the toughest parts of keeping my finances neat and orderly is staying on top of where my money goes.

Tracking big-ticket items like my car payment is easy. Remembering to log the $1.49 debit card transaction for an early-morning coffee? Not so much.

An easy way to automate this process is to use Trim, a little bot that’ll keep track of all your transactions.

Connect your checking account, credit card and savings account for a big-picture look at your spending habits. Then, take a closer look by checking out each of your transactions. Set alerts that’ll let you know when bills are due, when you’ve hit a spending cap or when you’ve (hopefully not) overdrafted.

Best part? It’s free to sign up.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s never too busy for cake.

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