It’s routine to get a health check-up from your doctor—the annual physical. We do the same with auto check-ups each year when it comes to oil changes and tire rotations. Third, most homeowners perform a house check-up known as the annual spring or fall cleaning. But how often do we give ourselves a financial check-up? Sadly, not often enough. But check-ups are essential to defeating one of life’s money saving challenges.
What’s a financial check-up?
A financial check-up involves a real sit down with oneself and ideally a spouse if married. One need not actually schedule an appointment with a professional to accomplish the task, though that is certainly possible. The check-up should be done annually and also after any life-changing event (job loss, birth of a child, death of immediate family member, divorce, etc.)
Beware the Autopilot
Begin by looking at those recurring expenses of the monthly variety like subscription services (i.e., Netflix), magazines, and cellphone plans, to name a few. Because the expenses are automatically deducted from checking accounts each month, little thought is given to reassessing them. It’s exactly this sort of “autopilot” that companies love because consumers then forget about the deductions. Ask yourself, “do I really watch enough of this channel to pay for it?” or “is there a cheaper cell plan that makes sense for me or my family?”
Inertia is the Enemy
Second, look at those larger but mandatory bills that come due just once or twice a year like auto and homeowner’s insurance. People tend to settle in with their insurance company and just pay the increases every year without any regard, sometimes in perpetuity. But don’t fall prey to inertia. Shop those policies around for new quotes among several agents, and do it every year. It’s never been easier. It can be done right on your computer or on your phone.
Ask and You May Receive
Few among us would ever think to ask our cable company or streaming service for a monthly discount. Asking politely or even suggesting you might cancel is the key to getting a better rate. Likewise with the interest rate you are paying your credit card companies. Front line customer service agents are empowered to make decisions for good customers, especially if you have been with the company for some time.
Get Your Savings Up – Savings Rate That is
One of life’s money saving challenges is simply to spend less and save more. We all know we should. But the endorphins released when we buy something create such a sense of pleasure and satisfaction in the moment. Putting money in a bank feels a bit like throwing it away. But whatever we actually have saved should get the highest return. That is not going to come from the bank or credit union down the street. Find an on-line bank. They are FDIC insured, just with no bricks and mortar branches that create high overhead. This site here is updated several times a week and lists the best high yield savings account rates in the nation.
Go Even Further
The suggestions here will allow most people to “find” some money to help with their money saving challenges. But for a more in depth check-up, visit this site here with additional and valuable information on debt, credit reports, taxes, and estate planning.
Jeff Szymanski works in political communications for AMAC Action and previously taught high school economics, history, psychology, and sociology. He writes frequently on the issue o