So often our lives get busy, and it can be hard to stay on top of all the detailed minutia of our financial lives. Things tend to slide, and we end up not having the optimal setup for anything in our finances because we just don't want to jump into the details. Since performing certain financial tasks can be a bit boring or mundane, it can be easy to just push off fixing things indefinitely.
This is why I suggest having something MSN calls a “personal money day”. A day dedicated solely to reviewing your financial life, and fixing the things that aren't optimized. Getting better rates on your insurance, finding higher interest rates for your savings, rebalancing your portfolio, switching TV providers, setting up a budget and a variety of other things.
So let's get started.
Getting Started: Focus On Fixing The Big Things
So where do you start when you've decided to take a personal day to fix your finances? At our house I decided to take a personal day when I was stuck at home one day because my car was in the shop being repaired. I had to take the day off from work anyway, so I decided to make it worth my while.
If you're considering taking a day off as well, I'd suggest trying to take a day off from work because a lot of the things you'll be doing – you may need to call a place of business to get details or a quote, so doing it during business hours will probably work better. It also puts a bit more pressure on you to get things done because you're paying a price – a vacation day – to do this.
I like to focus on the bigger things first to help maximize the return. Some of the things I might focus on include:
- Insurance: Make sure that your homeowners, auto, life, disability and other types of insurance are all set to go, and that you've got good rates. If you don't have one of the types of insurance, consider getting quotes to transfer your risk. If you've got decent rates already, consider changing your coverage to save money. Reduce deductibles, or drop un-needed coverage.
- Bank accounts: Consider closing accounts with fees attached and opening accounts with higher rates of interest, investigate the advantage of laddering. Find better rewards and less fees.
- Credit cards: Get accounts with lower interest rates, especially if you are carrying a balance. Cash in any rewards you've already got on current cards. Set up a plan to pay off your cards.
- Set up a budget: If you've never set up a family budget, consider doing that now. It's a lot easier nowadays with the advent of all the budget software out there.
- Retirement planning: Over time your retirement account allocations can become skewed. Consider re-balancing your portfolio. If you don't have a Roth IRA, IRA or other retirement account, consider opening one at a discount brokerage or mutual fund company on your day off!
- Find better deals for utilities and services: Cancel cable or satellite TV and sign up for a cheaper alternative, or watch TV for free via your computer. Look into cheaper home phone and cell phone alternatives.
- Cancel services you don't need: Signed up for cable TV but you don't watch? Have a gym membership, but don't go? Cancel the un-necessary expenses!
What I Did On My Personal Money Day
On my day off (a while back now) I focused on a couple of areas that I knew were long overdue for a look-see. I began by looking at my car related expenses, mainly auto insurance. I submitted online quotes for a bunch of different companies and to my horror realized I was overpaying on my insurance to the tune of almost $1100. I quickly switched, started paying less for the same coverage.
Next, I looked at homeowner's insurance. I found that by switching I could save another $200, and still have the same coverage.
I also looked at our savings account which was holding our emergency fund and realized that our bank was paying us next to nothing in interest. I researched some online savings accounts and signed up for one of the ones with the highest interest. This ended up meaning a few extra hundred dollars in interest every year.
So on my day off, even just looking at a few things, I ended up saving almost $1300/year. Not too bad of a return!
These are just a few of the things you can look at on your personal money day. It may not be the most enjoyable day you've ever had, but in the end you’ll be glad you did. It can end up saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And who doesn't like having extra money to help pad their bottom line?
Have you taken a personal day to fix your finances? What types of things did you look at? What things did we miss that people should consider looking at? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.