5 Ways To Improve Your Finances With Minimal Effort

(Rob)

(Rob)

Improving your finances doesn’t always require a big investment. Sometimes a single phone call or a small tweak are all you need to improve your financial future or present. Looking for some ideas as you change to your new “366 Kitten Photos” desk calendar? Here are some ideas from our financial friends down the hall at Consumer Reports to get you started.

  • Claim Your Unclaimed Funds. Even if you’ve done this in the last few years, check again. Abandoned bank accounts, checks sent to an address you’ve long since left, or in my case an entire week’s paycheck might be waiting for you. Start at the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, checking any state where you’ve lived. If you’re in a hurry, just search the multi-state MissingMoney.com, but I’ve found that isn’t updated as often.
  • Change your tax withholding. While it might feel like you’re getting free money when your tax refund arrives, you are not. That’s your money, which could have been in your paycheck all year. If you use a tax preparer, discuss your withholding with him or her, or calculate how much tax you should be paying in the coming year and adjust how much you have taken out every pay period accordingly.
  • Contribute more to your retirement plan. If your employer offers a retirement plan with matching as a benefit, make sure you’re contributing the full amount that’s matched. That actually is free money. Otherwise, remember that contributing to some retirement funds lowers your tax liability and is a gift to your future self.
  • Check your car insurance coverage. Staying loyal to an insurance company usually doesn’t pay, so you can even check other insurers to see whether they’ll save you money.
  • Correct errors in your credit report. This won’t immediately save you money, but could save you money in the future when applying for credit or a loan. If any information is incorrect, fix it before the already stressful time of buying a new house or car.

Free Money Moves to Make in 2016 [Consumer Reports]