12 money moves -- in 3 hours or less

You don't need as long as you think to get your financial life in order. Just squeeze in these 12 easy moves, some of which take a mere 15 minutes to tackle.

With longer workdays complicating the already Herculean task of juggling job and family, you probably don't have a minute to spare.

Granted, it's not just time that gets in the way. Many financial projects can seem overwhelming because of the sheer number of choices (which investment is best out of the thousands available? which credit card? which cable provider?).

Studies show that when people are presented with too many possibilities, they can become paralyzed, a phenomenon known in social science circles as the paradox of choice. Carnegie Mellon economist George Loewenstein, who studies consumer behavior, explains that people do nothing because they're afraid of doing the wrong thing. But as Baltimore financial planner Tim Maurer notes, "Inaction is a decision too -- and ordinarily not a good one."

Fortunately, you don't need more than a coffee break, a lunch hour or a Saturday morning to make some smart moves with your money -- moves that can cut your expenses, boost your savings, and protect your family's finances. "The key to meeting long-term goals is to break them into short-term steps that are easier to accomplish," says Loewenstein.



From the editors of Real-Simple and Money. Text by Stephanie AuWerter - Last updated November 30 2011: 6:39 PM ET
Join the Conversation
What to do with $1,000 now

Parking your money under the mattress might seem like the only sensible move right now. But that's not the case. What follows are some good ideas for you to stash your cash.

Find Homes for sale
  • Property Type
  • Find a home in:
    New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
    Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.