10 Quick Financial Moves to Make Today at Lunch

If you are fortunate enough to have a job that affords you a break for lunch, you may find that time to be more valuable than you realize. Your lunch break is certainly a good time to get away from work for a bit, but that hour or so can also be used to perform a wide range of activities that will help you financially.

Consider these easy things that you can do to improve your financial situation over your lunch break.

1. Visit Your Broker

If you live in an urban or denser suburban area, many online brokers including Fidelity, TDAmeritrade and ScottTrade have offices designed for people to walk in to get advice or questions answered. It's a great chance to get a little financial checkup and some facetime with folks who might know something about your portfolio.

2. Trade Stocks

If you trade stocks online, lunch can be an opportunity to look over your portfolio, or buy and sell shares. It's a great time to make a trade, because you'll have a sense of how the market is doing for the day, and most economic news and earnings announcements will have already been released for the day.

3. Read Financial News

Get caught up on the Wall Street Journal and other financial publications online, or if you're old fashioned, hit the library or a local coffee shop and read it in print. Most financial news websites are mobile-friendly now, and you can also digest a lot of articles by creating a "financial news" feed in an RSS reader such as Feedly or Instapaper. For longer articles, I like to save them to the Pocket app on my phone and tablet, so I can read them even if I am not online.

4. Watch Financial News Programs

If your office lets you watch streaming video, you can probably catch CNBC and other financial news channels' lunchtime programs. It's a good way to get quickly caught up on the business news of the day.

5. Take an Online Financial Seminar

Many online brokers offer "webinars" that you can take on your computer, and they are often scheduled to allow people to check in during their lunch breaks. The Fidelity Learning Center, for example, offers free webinars on things like market forecasts and the ins and outs of ETFs. There are also tutorials on trading stocks and options strategies.

6. Work on Your Side Hustle

An hour-long lunch break may offer enough time to give your other streams of income some attention. If you do some freelance writing on the side, take some time to hammer out a few hundred words. If you have an online auction business, your lunch break is a good time to check on bids, tweak your listings, and even communicate with buyers. You may even have time to make a quick run to the post office get some items delivered. This comes with the important caveat to make sure you're not using a company computer or phone to work on your side business, as that could be frowned upon by your full-time employer.

7. Eat Your Packed Lunch

Avoiding going out to eat may be the biggest financial move you can make. Pack a sandwich and a few other items for lunch, rather than spending $10 at Panera. ICMA-RC, a non-profit financial services company, estimates that if you pack a lunch three days a week, you can save $9,000 over seven years, assuming a 5% investment return. And if sandwiches aren't your thing, consider these non-sandwich lunches that will still save you a bundle. Your lunchbox is your financial friend.

8. Network

Are you trying to build a business or plan your next career move? Do you want to advance at your current company? You can help yourself by setting up lunch meetings with people who can help you with your career goals.

Maybe it's a colleague who can assist you in getting that promotion, or an old friend who works at an organization you'd like to break into. Perhaps it's an executive who can help you land a client. Depending on who you are meeting with, that one-hour lunchbreak could prove to be the most valuable time of your day. Just be careful not to meet with someone that your employer might disapprove of.

9. Work on Your Resume

You have to be careful here, because no employer wants to see a worker looking elsewhere on company time. That said, keep your resume fresh so when your lunchtime networking efforts pay off, you'll be ready to seize the opportunity.

10. Go Work Out

This may not seem like a financial move, but there may be some indirect monetary benefits to working out over your lunch break. You'll feel more energized in the afternoon, thus perhaps making you more alert for that 3:30 staff meeting. And by exercising at lunch, you avoid the need to sacrifice sleep by working out in the early morning hours. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that an obese person has a smaller chance of climbing the corporate ladder than someone who's physically fit. The Wall Street Journal, citing data from the Center for Creative Leadership, reported that a person's weight can impact how they are perceived at the workplace. This may seem unfair, but maybe it's best to hit the treadmill instead of the burger joint at lunchtime.

What financial activities do you engage in during your lunch break?

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