The One Weekend Challenge

Here’s a very simple challenge for you.

This weekend, spend as much time as you can taking care of all of those little personal finance tasks that you’ve been meaning to do, but have been eluding you.

The big catch with personal finance tasks is that they often fall into the category of “important, not urgent,” which means that, although they are really important and we know they’re important, we often let them slip simply because there are other things that are screaming with urgency in our lives.

This weekend, put a stop to that slippage. Devote your free time to taking care of business.

Need some ideas? Here are ten of them.

1. Draft a will. Just figure out which of your personal belongings you want to go to various people in your life and get that down on paper. Once you have that figured out, actually finishing up a will can be done at a site like LegalZoom.

2. Prepare a budget. Preparing your first budget is a pretty simple process. The real work is thinking about it and figuring out how much you should be spending in each category.

3. Prepare a family disaster emergency plan. This document is something well worth sticking in a safe deposit box. It contains all of the necessary account information and contact information for you (or your next of kin) to easily handle whatever disaster might happen. Doing some footwork now can make a disaster much easier to handle.

4. Plan ahead for next week’s meals. You can do this by following a simple process of checking out your grocery store flyer, making a meal plan, assembling a grocery list from that meal plan, and hitting the store. This can save significant money.

5. Make some meals in advance. Whatever your favorite low-cost meal is, you can make it even cheaper if you make several batches at once and freeze the extras. This enables you to buy the ingredients in bulk. While it may eat several hours, it will also save you time during busy evenings.

6. Do some necessary home maintenance. Homes require maintenance. Doing it properly extends the life of your house. Failing to do it erodes your property value. Here’s a nice checklist of home maintenance tasks that are well worth doing.

7. Sell off your unwanted media collections. Do you have books that you won’t read again? Movies you won’t watch again? Sell them off. Go through your collections and determine what needs to be kept and what can be eliminated. Then, try listing the ones that you don’t want to keep on Craigslist.

8. Visit your library. Your local library is a great collection of free books, but it’s also much more than that. It has movies, music, community events, classes, and countless other things that can give you great value. Check out your local library.

9. Read a book on a topic you want to learn about. It can be a personal finance book, of course, but any book focusing on a topic you’re interested in and want to learn about can be a great use of your time, particularly if it has career connections or potentially points you to a side business. This goes hand in hand with a library visit, of course.

10. Find something free in your community – and try it. Almost every city and town has free resources that are always available and free activities almost every weekend. Find out what’s going on in your town this weekend using the community calendar (look for your city’s website using Google), and while you’re there, find out what resources are available in your town, like parks and trails and rec centers.

These ten ideas just scratch the surface. As long as you’re finding ways to live inexpensively, to maintain or improve the things you have, to prepare for the future, or to earn more money, you’re doing something positive. Why not fill your weekend with these projects?

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