The article suggests five financial strategies to save time and simplify managing finances. It recommends opting for annual payments to save processing time and potentially gain discounts. Switching to direct debit for regular bills helps avoid late payments and reduces time spent writing checks. Creating templates for recurring payments in internet banking streamlines the process. Consolidating accounts and resources across financial institutions minimizes time spent managing them. Lastly, shifting spending towards important goals helps prioritize expenses and optimize financial management.

One upside to the economic downturn is that it gives you a good excuse to review your finances and find ways to save time managing them. The more you can simplify your finances, the more time you will gain to put into your other goals. In the new book Happy About An Extra Hour Every Day author Nicolas Soergel offers these five simple time saving financial strategies:

1) Go for annual payments

Instead of choosing the option of paying your bills quarterly, or bi-annually, see which of the companies you do business with will accept annual payments. Many companies offer additional discounts for annual payment schemes since it saves them processing time.

2) Go with direct debit

If you want to eliminate the risk of late payments and the related penalties and time hassles that come with them, switch to direct debit or automatic payment for the companies you trust. Bills to be paid to such vendors as the phone company, gas company etc. can be set up on a regular schedule, saving you the time of having to write the check. One caution, be sure to insure that you have the right to reject a wrong debit with your bank first before signing up for automatic payment.

3) Create templates for most payables

Internet banking is a great alternative since it reduces the amount of time you have to spend physically going to the bank. On additional advantage is that most banking software allows you to create and save templates for payments you make from time to time, as well as on a monthly basis. By setting up these templates – even for occasional payments, you avoid having to fill in all the fields from scratch.

4) Consolidate your resources

Do you have two or three savings accounts when you could easily reduce it to one? How about credit cards? Or even insurance with different companies, when one or two could do the trick? The more you consolidate the financial institutions your deal with, the less time you will spend managing them.

5) Shift your spending towards your goals

What better way to save time on your finances that to put your money to work towards you most important priorities and goals. The following process will help you to free up money from activities with a lower priority and focus spending on those things that mean the most to you.

6. Take your bank and credit card statements for the last three months and list the payments for activities in three columns.

The first column is related to cost of living expenses such as rent, insurance, etc. Check how much of your income they represent and think of ways to reduce some of these items (change of provider, renegotiation, etc.).
• The second column should reflect spending that is related to goals of lower priority.
• The third column is for payments you have made for activities related to your most important goals in life.

7. Add together the total for each column.

3. As you review the columns it should become obvious where you have the potential to shift funds to high priority activities or to reduce overall spending in the low priority areas.

As the saying goes “time is money” so make sure you are spending both of yours in the places that really matter.

This post was originally published at Karen Leland’s Featured Small Business column on The Huffington Post.