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10-Minute Family Finance Tune-Ups

Make these quick fixes to your finances to help save for your child’s college fund, and more.

Child counting pennies Liz Banfield

A version of this article originally appeared on Learnvest.com.

It’s a time to conquer any traces of “put-off-ability” because the longer you put things off, the more you’ll let them snowball. Admittedly, some of the tasks that get pushed off the longest are the ones that can help your financial life. Here are 10 easy tweaks that can help families save money.

1. Increase Your 401(k) Contribution

Even if retirement feels like a long way off, it’s crucial to start saving as early as possible because time is your biggest ally. And don’t feel guilty about saving for yourself—one of the biggest gifts that you can give your kids down the road is the ability to take care of yourself in those golden years. In less than 10 minutes, you can log into your 401(k) website and up your monthly contribution.

2. Schedule 10-Minute Quiet Time

Kids are basically the epitome of noise, but taking time out is critical for your own mental health, personal wellbeing and general effectiveness as a parent. Plus, clearing your head can help you refocus on everything from your work to your finances. Take 10 minutes—with the door closed–to spend in total silence. Ask your partner to take care of the kids or, if they’re slightly older, tell them it’s a “quiet game” and offer something if they “win.”

3. Do a Quick Project to Teach Money Skills

Art projects don’t need to be overly involved or messy to be fun and educational. If you have younger children, talk about how money works and the value of currency by having them draw and color their own dollar bills. You can even cut out a small headshot of your child and paste it in the middle, like the presidents on dollar bills.

4. Open a 529

Saving for college can be daunting, but it’s also important because expenses are rising. Rather than get intimidated by the whole process, start with the first step: Open a 529 college savings account. You should be able to open the account online, and it should be a quick process—as long as you have all of your family’s personal info at your disposal, like Social Security Numbers and dates of birth.

5. Settle on a Money Goal for the Entire Family

This is a great opportunity to talk to kids about your finances—without causing any worry. Explain that, as a family, you have a budget and it’s important to stay within that budget. And if you succeed with sticking to that budget at the end of each month, it’s a cause worth celebrating. Decide together what the motivation prize will be, like a pizza night. A good side effect: It gives kids a reason to stop begging for random things because they’re also responsible for helping to stay on budget.

 
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