11 ways to improve your finances on a lunch break

Easy ways to make progress with your money on your lunch break
Easy ways to make progress with your money on your lunch break

Revamping your financial life doesn't have to be a long-drawn-out process. There's plenty you can do even during one 30-minute lunch break that could help you build more wealth.

Here are 11 simple actions you can take this afternoon that could make all the difference with your money.

Automate your finances

If your financial plan isn't on auto-pilot yet, get that changed.

Automating your finances — sending your money automatically to investment accounts, savings accounts, and creditors — allows you to build wealth effortlessly, says self-made millionaire David Bach in "The Automatic Millionaire": "You'll never forget a payment again — and you'll never be tempted to skimp on savings because you won't even see the money going directly from your paycheck to your savings accounts."

Read more about how to link all of your accounts and automate everything.

Increase your 401(k) contribution

You should already be putting money into your 401(k) retirement account if you have the option, but you'll also want to get in the habit of increasing your contributions consistently, either at the end of the year or when you get a bonus or a raise.

The best part is, you can probably automate that too. Check online to see if you can set up "auto-increase," which allows you to choose the percentage you want to increase your contributions by and how often. This way, you'll never forget to up your contributions, or talk yourself out of setting aside a larger chunk of your paycheck.

Build more wealth by breaking these bad money habits
Build more wealth by breaking these bad money habits

Page through a personal finance classic

Rich people continue to invest in themselves long after any formal education is over, which is why they tend to be avid readers. "Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful," self-made millionaire Steve Siebold writes in "How Rich People Think."

If it works for the millionaires and billionaires, it could work for you.

Need book ideas for your lunch break? Check out CNBC's round up of some of the best personal finance books out there, or consider Bill Gates' favorite books of 2016.

Open an investment account

Investing is one of the most effective ways to build wealth, and contrary to popular belief, you don't need a lot of money to get started.

In fact, thanks to micro-investing apps such as Acorns, you can start by investing your "spare change." The app will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically put your coins to work.

Other apps also aim to make investing simple and accessible, and automated investing services known as robo-advisors can help you out, no matter how much you have in the bank.

The key takeaway: Start investing sooner rather than later to take full advantage of compound interest. As Bach explains, "the miracle of compounding can transform a relatively small but consistent amount of saving into major wealth."

Fun and easy ways to make some extra cash
Fun and easy ways to make some extra cash

Brainstorm ways to earn more money with a side hustle

Rich people focus most of their energy on earning.

"Self-made millionaires do not rely on one singular source of income," Tom Corley writes in "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life," a culmination of his research on hundreds of self-made millionaires. "They develop multiple streams. Three seemed to be the magic number in my study ... 65 percent had at least three streams of income that they created prior to making their first million dollars."

Additional streams could be real-estate rentals, stock market investments, or side businesses, he writes.

Spend time thinking about how you can monetize your passion or how you can solve a problem that you see in the world.

Write down goals for your money

"The number one reason most people don't get what they want is that they don't know what they want," self-made millionaire T. Harv Eker writes in his book "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind." "Rich people are totally clear that they want wealth."

To reach that level of clarity, he suggests writing down goals for your annual income and net worth. Like all goal-setting, be realistic, but don't be afraid to challenge yourself. After all, the wealthiest people aren't afraid to think big.

How to make extra money — without much effort
How to make extra money — without much effort

Create specific savings goals for major purchases

In addition to thinking about what you want your salary and net worth to be, it's smart to think about your money goals on a more micro level. There are going to be the bigger purchases in your future, such as a car, home, graduate school, or an education for your kids. The sooner you start setting aside money for these expenses, the better off you'll be.

Determine what big-ticket items you need to prepare to afford, calculate how much you need to save for them and for how long, and start setting aside a certain amount each week or month.

It may be helpful to set up multiple savings accounts in order to save for specific purchases. Check the online interface of your bank and see if you can create sub-savings accounts.

Set up a way to track your expenses

It's crucial to be on top of your cash flow. After all, you can't build wealth if more money is leaving your wallet than is coming in. An effective way to ensure you're earning more than you're spending is to track your daily expenses.

There are a handful of apps that will do this for you, such as Mint, Personal Capital, and Level Money. You can also use a spreadsheet on your computer or simply record your everyday purchases in a notebook or on your phone.

The most important things to do with your money before 30
The most important things to do with your money before 30

Cancel underused subscriptions

Look over your last couple of credit card statements and figure out exactly what you're paying for, whether it be subscriptions to magazines, software, a gym membership, or online services. Next, ask yourself which you can eliminate, and cancel them on the spot to save a couple hundred dollars a year.

You could also use Trim, which automatically finds and cancels your subscriptions with a text.

Make sure you have the right insurance

Do you have disability insurance? What about renter's insurance or homeowner's insurance?

Buying the right policies for your situation is critical to a healthy financial life. After all, just one accident can be detrimental to your finances, certified financial planner Carolyn McClanahan tells CNBC: "Medical debt and serious injuries are one of the main things that put people into bankruptcy."

Insurance policies are largely personal. To get the best coverage for your specific situation, educate yourself by shopping around and getting multiple quotes, reading your policy closely before signing on, and asking questions when you don't understand.

Read more about choosing the right insurance plan for you.

This boss gives each new employee $500 to invest
This boss gives each new employee $500 to invest

Look into the benefits offered by your employer

While you're improving your finances over lunch at your desk, you might as well look into the employee benefits offered at your company. If you're not taking full advantage of them, you're leaving money on the table.

Does your company offer a 401(k) match? What about a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA)? Does it offer commuter benefits or a fitness reimbursement program?

If you have additional questions about benefits, talk to your human resources department to understand exactly what's available to you.

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