It’s time for our next installment of Money Magazine’s recommended money moves for 2006. Next up: six tips for making the most of your family finances…
(1) “Mask Your Identity.” If you’re in a state that allows it, one of the best of ways of protecting yourself from credit fraud is to place a security freeze on your credit report. To date, only a dozen states have passed such laws, but a number of others are expected to enact legislation of this sort in the near future.
(2) “Check your credit. You no longer have an excuse… You can get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year. If you’re just interested in keeping tabs on your reports, I would recommend asking for one every four months or so, rather than getting all three at once. To request you report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228.
(3) “Change your life insurance.” Life insurance prices have dropped in recent years, so shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
(4) “Prepare for disasters.” Keep enough cash around the house to cover several days worth of expenses, get your financial records in order and store them in a safe place, and work on building up an emergency fund to help bridge the gap if a disaster (or anything else) puts you out of work.
(5) “Save on long-distance.” If you have both a cell phone and a landline, think about cutting the cord and relying solely on a cell phone. If you’re not ready to dump your landline, at least make sure you’re using your cell phone to the fullest — for example, why pay for long distance when you can (usually) get it for free with your cell phone.
(6) “Consolidate student loans.” If you have student loans, consolidate them by mid-year — Stafford loan rates are set to be fixed at 6.8%, as opposed to the current 4.75%, on July 1, 2006.