Save and Invest

These 30 simple financial tasks will help you save money, quell anxiety and take your mind off the news

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Over the past few weeks, CNBC Make It published 30 simple financial tasks to accomplish at home. These are all meant to be easy-to-accomplish, time-sensitive activities to take your mind off of the news for a moment and, hopefully, put you on sturdier financial footing.

Of course, you don't need to accomplish everything on this list in 30 days. Bookmark this page and come back to it when you have some downtime, or are bored of Animal Crossing and stress-baking.

Here are 30 simple money tasks you can complete today, tomorrow or whenever works for you.

Day 1: Be more intentional with your money

Take some time to write down what you're spending more money on now, what you're spending less on and how you'd ideally like to spend your money. This will help you get a handle on what your priorities are now, and if and how they've changed from more normal circumstances. 

Day 2: Set up a system to track your spending

Set up a system to catalog where your money goes every day and week. This will give you a sense of how you are acclimating to your new circumstances.

Day 3: Make a list of financial habits you'd like to form

Whatever habits you want to form, it's best to start small. Just as you can't lift 100 pounds without building up your strength, it would be difficult to transition from saving nothing to saving $1,000 each month. Habits take time to form and hitting smaller milestones can be motivating.

Day 4: Finally finish the financial task you've been avoiding

We all have something we know we should do but keep putting off, especially when it comes to our finances. Whatever it is, take 10 minutes to finally get it done. You'll benefit from whatever the task is and have one less thing to worry about.

Day 5: Make a plan now for how you will spend your coronavirus stimulus check

For many, what the check will go toward will be obvious: Rent, food or other necessities. But if you don't need it immediately, consider where it could best be used, whether that's in your savings account or donated somewhere else.

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Day 6: Sign up for a personal finance newsletter

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to learn more about money at your own pace, financial newsletters offer invaluable insight, often for free. These missives serve as reminders to pay attention to your money in the months and years to come, and they're sent directly to your email inbox. 

Day 7: Figure out if you're wasting money on things you don't need

Reflect on your recent purchases and see if your actual spending aligns with your goals. Start by making a list of your best and worst purchases from the past year.

Day 8: Create an essentials-only budget

If you are worried about losing your job or an uncertain economy, create an "essentials only" budget now. That way, if an emergency situation arises, you'll already be prepared.

Day 9: Check your credit score

If you don't know what your score is, or haven't checked it in a while, take five minutes to do so. This can give you a snapshot of your financial health. There are plenty of ways to do this for free.

Day 10: Write down your interest rates

If you don't know your interest rates, you don't know how much you're really paying for something. You could be missing out on a better deal.

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Day 11: Create a personal balance sheet to calculate your net worth

This will give you a better idea of your total financial picture than a budget or expenses spreadsheet because it lists out all of the big picture things you own and owe, not just what you are spending money on day to day.  

Day 12: Protect your money by changing your banking passwords

If you've used the same password for many years, or use the same password for many financial accounts, it's time to change that.

Day 13: Set up daily bank account alerts

Knowing where your money stands, including how much you spend and what your checking account balance is, can prevent possible problems, such as overdrafting your account or going over your credit limit. 

Day 14: Donate some of your coronavirus stimulus check if you don't need the money

If you're one of the Americans who received a coronavirus stimulus check and don't immediately need the money, there are countless ways you can donate your check to those in need. 

Day 15: Create a 'care budget' to help support yourself and others without being overwhelmed

Created by Rachel Miller, deputy editor of Vice Life, a care budget is "a way to think about where your most valuable resources — your time, money, and energy — are going each week." It's a recognition that you can't help everyone and contribute to every cause while still caring for yourself; you have to be honest about how much you actually have to give others.

Pain relief medicine at a pharmacy. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
John Greim

Day 16: Use your FSA or HSA funds for over-the-counter medications and feminine care products

Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can use your FSA or HSA funds to buy over-the-counter medications without a prescription, including Tylenol and other pain relievers, heartburn medications, allergy relief and more, for the first time since 2011. You can also use your funds for feminine care products, including tampons, pads, liners, cups and sponges for the first time.

Day 17: Don't forget to get the refunds you're entitled to

Take time to recoup some of the money you spent on experiences you won't have now because of Covid-19.

Day 18: Find a better bank account

If you're paying bank fees of any kind, it doesn't have to be that way. There are plenty of options without any monthly service fees at all and more leniency with other types of charges.

Day 19: Take one thing off of your to-do list for the coming week

With so much to deal with — potential job loss, new living situations and a global pandemic — taking one task off of your to-do list doesn't mean you will never accomplish it; it's simply recognizing that there is so much going on that needs constant attention, you may not have the mental energy for any other distractions. And that's OK. 

Day 20: Join a money community for financial support

Having some sort of financial community is beneficial for the same reasons talking about money with your partner or friends is: You feel supported and less alone. 

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Day 21: Prioritize your emergency fund

The most important thing anyone can do to prepare for a recession is to build up their cash reserves, financial experts say. It's not novel advice, but it is important. If you're worried about the future, prioritize sending extra money to your savings rather than investing more (or at all).

Day 22: Turn savings into a game to stash away more money

Gamification, or adding elements from game playing, like challenges, competition and scores, can be helpful for your savings rate because it taps into your emotional responses to money. 

Day 23: Create a money mindfulness practice

Instituting a short, daily financial routine can make money feel less like a source of anxiety. Rather than only checking your accounts when something goes wrong, you're conditioning yourself to do it each day, no matter what. In time, it will become just another normal item on your daily to-do list.

Day 24: Prepare for a spending quarantine

Taking the easy win of saving a little bit of money can help ease some anxiety right now by letting you focus on what you can control.  

Day 25: Give yourself a break on your 2020 money goals

Rather than fretting over goals you set at the beginning of the year, such as hitting a certain number in your savings account or maxing out your retirement contributions, give yourself some grace. Everyone is operating under extraordinary circumstances right now. 

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Day 26: Decide which investment account is right for you

With all of the economic uncertainty happening right now, it might seem like a scary time to start investing. But there is no "ideal" time to invest, financial experts say. Dipping your toes in now, if you haven't invested before, can help make investing a habit in good times and bad.

Day 27: Schedule a money talk with your friends

Discussing your finances with people you trust and relate to is one of the best ways to learn more about money and how it works in your life. Schedule a money talk with a friend, partner or group of people you trust to share your financial goals and anxieties or to ask for advice. 

Day 28: Protect your retirement accounts when you die

Take a few minutes to add or update the beneficiaries on your various retirement accounts, including your 401(k), IRAs and insurance policies. This is easy to do and will ensure your assets go to where you want them to when you pass away.

Day 29: Take advantage of your telemedicine options

Your doctor's visit will look a little different than you're used to, but you can still get the help, prescriptions and care that you need via telemedicine.

Day 30: Create a 5-year financial plan

Thinking and planning for the future can be a balm for any anxiety you're feeling right now. Studies have found that the pre-trip planning can be the most enjoyable part of a vacation. Applied to your finances, that could mean there is great joy to be had in planning out how you will buy a home one day or how much you'll need to splurge on a bucket list trip in a few years.

Did you complete any of these tasks, or have your own to add to the list? Email reporter Alicia Adamczyk at alicia.adamczyk@nbcuni.com if you'd like to talk about how you're managing your money during the coronavirus shutdowns.

Don't miss: Working from home? It's a great time to complete these 6 financial tasks you've been putting off

Check out: The best credit cards of 2020 could earn you over $1,000 in 5 years

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