We all have those ‘dead’ times of day, when we are waiting for someone, carrying out a mundane task, or sitting on a train or bus; just the time for some money management.
While many of us use these times to browse Twitter or update our Facebook status, you could use some of these moments to improve your financial situation, leaving you better off at the end of the month.
Here are some of the surprising times you could use to gain a little financial uplift, and how you could do it.
While you are cleaning your teeth
It takes just two minutes morning and evening to keep the dentist happy, but you could be putting your mind to financial goals at the same time.
Research from National Savings & Investments suggests that those of us who are clear about what we are saving our money for are most likely to hit a goal, whether it is a short term one, like money for a new car, or a long term one such as a prosperous retirement.
Research from American bank TD suggests that those of us who visualise our financial goals are less anxious about budgeting than those who do not, and those who picture their achievements are more satisfied with their financial health.
“Images connect us more immediately and emotionally to our personal and financial goals, and to our setting and achieving them. Also images help us in our thinking and moving toward these goals,” said psychologist Barbara Nusbaum of the research. “I’m not surprised that people who imagine or picture their goals are better at budgeting and saving, and that these activities in themselves provide a sense of well-being.”
Before you go to bed
Taking your wallet or purse from a pocket before you go to bed is a ritual for many, but why not take the time to clear it out before you pick it up again the next morning?
Remove any old receipts from your wallet, and flick quickly through the cards that you have in it. By removing loyalty cards you no longer use and any unused credit cards, you will be able to see more clearly what methods you have for paying for things.
Once your wallet is more pared down, you can check you are using the right cards for the right things – a credit card with a good rewards programme for spending – as long as you pay it off at the end of the month, or a debit card for keeping control of your cash.
If you find cards in your wallet that you no longer use, it is worth cancelling them as they show up on your credit report.
On the train to work
With most high street banks now offering an app that allows you to control your finances from your phone, your train journey could be a good time to keep in touch with your finances.
Pretty much every money management app allows you to check your bank balance, and many will allow you to manage direct debits and standing orders as well.
Checking your bank balance at the end of the month and transferring any extra into an investment account before payday could create a nest egg for the future without you noticing, while regularly checking your balance could prevent you from paying unnecessary overdraft fees.
See money management apps here
In your lunch hour
Twenty minutes at your desk might not sound like a time when you can make much of a difference, but there are plenty of financial tasks you can accomplish with a sandwich in one hand. Use a financial comparison site such as Moneysupermarket.com or Moneyfacts.co.uk to find a cash ISA with a better rate, or, given the low rates on cash at present, use the time to switch your cash ISAs to an investment product. Setting up a direct debit from your current account of just £50 a month into an investment ISA could help building a savings pot for the future.
Once you’ve got the ISA set up, you could use some of your lunch breaks to catch up on investment news, helping you to decide where to invest next.
While waiting for an appointment
Instead of flicking through the magazines at the doctor’s, dentist or opticians, make sure your own magazine subscriptions aren’t sucking away at your bank balance.
Try downloading Bean, a free app that will analyse your bank accounts for subscriptions and other recurring payments such as gym memberships.
If you don’t want them, you can tell Bean to cancel them for you with a click of the app – potentially saving hundreds of pounds a year.