Here’s Part II of my thoughts on Consumer Reports’ ten steps to simplifying your financial life. Today we’ll be covering steps 4-6…
(4) Automate investment tracking. Keeping count of your stock and mutual-fund shares and their prices can be tedious and time-consuming. But software such as the free QuoteÂTracker (www.quotetracker.com) can automatically update your portfolio using online data sources. You can also import data from QuoteTracker into spreadsheet programs such as Microsoftâ€™s Excel.
(5) Dump your extra credit cards. Why carry a dozen when a few will do? Get rid of cards you never use and merchant cards you applied for solely to get a discount. Keep your oldest card because the longer your credit history, the higher your credit score. If you carry a balance, keep a card with a low fixed interest rate. Card issuers can raise a fixed-rate cardâ€™s interest rate, but they must give you 15 daysâ€™ notice. By contrast, an issuer can change the interest rate on a variable-rate card regularly and without advance warning. If youâ€™re not satisfied with the cards you have and want to see if there are better deals, try the search engines at www.bankrate.com, www.cardratings.com, and www.lowcards.com.
(6) Use one home and car insurer. Youâ€™ll have to deal with only one agent, and youâ€™ll snag a multipolicy discount as high as 20 percent on either your auto or homeowners policy or both.
My thoughts on these:
(4) Great tip. I do this with Quicken. Although I download share prices, however, I still update the transactions manually. Not sure why. I guess I’m just weird that way. That’s probably why I keep a paper checkbook register as well as one in Quicken, and can’t sleep unless they match at the end of the month. I’m an obsessive compulsive account balancer!
(5) I’ve never been one for store credit cards, and we’ve never had a bunch of regular cards, either. We currently have three total reward credit cards, and typically use only one or two at a time depending on what we’re doing (all are paid in full at the end of every month). That being said, it’s always tempting to jump on a 0% balance transfer credit card offer, or maybe a cash bonus or a bunch of free miles.
(6) This advice is spot on. We use a single insurer for everything. Not only does it simplify things, but we get a great discount for packaging everything together.