With the current coronavirus situation, you may have some extra time on your hands. It’s a great time to do some financial spring cleaning. You can save money, make bill paying easier, and increase your online security. Here are six ideas:

Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Now is a good time to review all your subscription and streaming services. Comb through your bank and credit card statements to locate them. Can you cut any subscriptions you are no longer using? Are there services you can reduce to a less expensive package?

Update Passwords and Set Up a Password Manager
Passwords need to be updated periodically. This is a task many of us put off. If you have a lot of online accounts making this task seem overwhelming, focus on a handful a day. Make a list of all your online accounts. Go through them one-by-one and change the password, ideally to a complex password at least 10 to 12 characters long. While you are doing this, you can start storing your login credentials in a password manager. Click here for more information on creating and storing passwords.

Review Your Insurance
The common advice is to shop around for auto and homeowner’s insurance every few years. If it has been a while since you have done this, start with your current insurer and see if you qualify for any discounts. If you work with an independent insurance agent, your agent can price other companies. There are comparison tools online, such as insurancequotes.com and Bankrate.com that compare policies. Or, you can call insurers directly.

Streamline Bill Paying
There are different ways to this. You can pay bills online from your bank’s website. To do this, login to your bank, look for the “Bill Pay” feature and follow the prompts. It may take time initially to set up all your vendors, but in the long run, when you pay your bills, this will save you time.

An alternative is to contact each company you pay either by phone or online and have them automatically deduct the monthly payment from your bank account or charge your credit card.

If you are having difficulty in paying bills currently, I recommend using the online bill pay feature at your bank. This way you can control how much you send each month. When you have the vendors debit your account most will take the total amount due. (A good number of credit card companies allow you to choose to pay the minimum about due, the full balance, or another amount.) The advantage of this approach is your payments will never be late – unless there are insufficient funds in your bank account.

Evaluate Your Accounts
There may be a credit card that offers better rewards or has other features more in line with your current lifestyle. The terms of your checking and savings accounts may have changed since you opened them. With interest rates declining recently, you may find better rates at an online bank. As long as the bank is FDIC insured, your money, up to $250,000 in total deposits, is safe. Click here for a Kiplinger’s article on how to choose an online bank.

Check Your Credit Reports
You can obtain a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. There are three ways to request a credit report:

  1. Visit annualcreditreport.com.
  2. Call 1-877-322-8228.
  3. Request reports by mail using the Annual Credit Report Request Form. Click here to access this form.

Once you have your reports review them for accuracy. If you find errors, file a dispute.

If you have extra time now, I encourage you to try one or two of these financial spring cleaning ideas. You may be able to save money, feel more secure, and find a better credit card or savings rate.

 

This blog is published to provide you with general information only and is not intended to provide specific or comprehensive advice. Money Care, LLC encourages individuals to seek advice from competent professionals when appropriate.

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