Faced with a forced furlough, a New York Times writer devoted an entire day off to earning more interest, trimming bills, scheduling extra mortgage payments and earning better rewards. Luckily, he turned his "Financial Tuneup" into a handy and explanatory checklist.
Many of us have a rough idea of the kinds of steps we should take to get more out of our money, but when faced with the prospect of ringing up big companies and simply asking for a better deal, it seems like a big, annoying time commitment. So taking a weekday off, when customer service lines are open and your friends aren't making plans, can take a lot of background burdens off your mind and get more done.
What kind of things get done? Insurance deductibles get tweaked, savings accounts get swapped and other hard finance moves you've read about before. But making some simple consumer choice moves, too, can free up money to go into smarter places:
Mare Swallow, a training and development consultant in Chicago, picked out a new primary credit card for her wallet. Out went the old American Airlines card, and in came the Southwest Airlines card. "I still pay a fee, but I get free flights so much quicker," she said.
She also reported, with apologies, that a phone representative for this newspaper cut the price in half on her Sunday-only subscription. "The way I think of it is when I find a savings like that, it goes right into the phone bill or into the savings account," she said.
A four-figure swing is possible in just a few hours, as Ryan Schneider proved recently. "I redid the cable package, got every channel that I wanted and got rid of some I hadn't used in a year, and saved about $US50 a month," he reported.
What's the best thing you've ever done with free time and a stack of bills? What items on the Times' checklist have you already taken care of with less fuss? Help us all plan our financial freedom in the comments.
Take a Few Hours Each Year to Unlock Some Cash [NYTimes.com]
31 Steps to a Financial Tuneup (Checklist) [NYTimes.com]