Thursday, April 21, 2011

7 Money Moves to Make Now

"The art is not in making money, but in keeping it”
-Proverb
My wife sent me a link from Ladies' Home Journal about Financial Spring Cleaning: 7 Money Moves to Make Now.

1. Review your Insurance
"We bundle our policies with one provider for a lower overall cost; we keep deductibles high to keep premiums low; and we take advantage of discounts." 
Are you over insured? If your car is old, drop everything but liability (subject to state laws). Collision and Comprehensive won't pay much to repair a clunker.

Is the value of your house over appraised? For $7.95, accucoverage.com assesses your home's value using the same data insurers use.

2. Pay Off Credit Cards ASAP
If you have a lot of credit card debt consider this, "Take out a three-year personal loan from a credit union. You lock in the rate, which can be about the same as a transfer fee, and it's better for your credit score."

Bonus Resources: Creditcardguide.com has info on credit offers and deciphering fine print. Credit.com gives you a "soft" estimate of your credit rating without the request registering with credit agencies.

3. Roll Over an Old 401(k)
If you change companies consider rolling an old 401(k) into a new one. This can protect you from your old company going out of business. "You can also roll it into an IRA, which may give you more investment options. (Look for a low-cost provider like Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, or USAA.)"

In my case I left my 401(k) with my prior company. It's stable (150+ yrs old) and offers a different mix of mutual funds than my new 401(k).

4. Get a Home Energy Audit
Look for free or low cost Energy Audits on how to save money heating your house. Some states and energy companies will cover the costs.
Bonus resources: The Department of Energy website (energysavers.gov) offers a DIY guide to energy audits and a list of upgrades that qualify for federal rebates. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (dsireusa.org) has a state-by-state guide to rebate programs.

5. Open a Higher-Yield Checking Account
Look online for banks that will offer you a better deal on checking. But watch out for the rules and penalties. Also beware - last decade Iceland was famous for its high rates until the country's banking industry collapsed.
Struggling banks sometimes offer high interest rates as a way to try to boost their funds, so be sure to type the bank's name into Bankrate.com's "Safe & Sound" engine. Look for a rating of at least three stars.

6. Look for Cheaper Cable and Internet.

7. Consolidate Vital Records
"Dealing with all this money stuff showed me how balkanized our finances are: I take care of some things, Rob takes care of others. If something happened to either of us, the other could not necessarily jump right in. We needed an overall map, a worst-case-scenario guide, to our financial affairs."
Google "Merrill Lynch" and "Organizing your financial life. Critical information at your fingertips" for a useful form and checklist to get you started. The form documents all accounts and recommends you locate and properly store important records such as property deeds and passports.

Bonus resource: The legal website LawEasy.com gives free access to all sorts of legal templates, including a "child emergency health form" that would be useful for babysitters or daycare facilities to have.

Bottom Line

One easy way to save money is not to spend it in the first place. The ideas above will help you cut cost and expenses.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Discount Car Insurance Expert said...

I stopped using credit cards a while ago but unfortunately wracked up some debt before doing so. Hope to get it paid off soon. We didn't do the home energy audit but living in the south where central air is a way of life we installed ceiling fans in all of our rooms and using the fans allows us to raise our thermostats a bit.

April 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM  

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