This year has been unique, stressful and scary at times. Unfortunately, isn’t over yet. But while 2020 has thrown a curve ball in many Americans’ finances, there’s still time to make some smart money moves and end the year on a better note.
If you’re ready to get smarter with your money, check out these three smart financial moves you should make before the end of the year.
Check Your Interest Rates
In 2020, mortgage rates hit record lows. While this was great for new home buyers, it was also an opportunity for existing homeowners to refinance to get a lower rate.
Whether you took advantage of this trend or not, it’s a good idea to take a look at the many different interest rates you’re paying for your home, credit cards and other loans to decide whether you might be paying more than you need to. Besides refinancing, other ways to save on interest rates include paying down your credit cards with the highest rates. When you pay off your balance, consider opting for a card with a lower rate if you know that you’ll be carrying a balance from month to month.
Federal student loans were put on hold early in 2020 to give borrowers a financial break. If yours is on hold and you are able to, making payments now can help you put a dent on your principal before your loans begin incurring interest again.
Keep Your Web-Based Personal Info Safe
With so many online tools now available, many of us do a large portion of our banking, investing and other financial moves on the web. While this makes it convenient to track your accounts, it also means that your sensitive personal information is stored on the web and at risk of a cyber-attack.
Every year, hackers use stolen information to make more than $16 billion in purchases each year in the US, according to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research. The average victim of identity theft has more than $1000 worth of accounts opened in their name or charges accumulated on their credit cards. While many banks will reimburse customers for a portion of the stolen funds, identity theft is still a stressful financial burden.
If you’re going to take advantage of online financial tools, keeping your personal information safe should be a priority. For example, a small investment in the cost of LifeLock can keep your information safe and protected, no matter which tools you choose to use.
Start an Emergency Fund
More than 22 million jobs were lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This left millions of Americans without a reliable source of income, practically overnight. Prior to the pandemic, around 38 percent of Americans would not have had the cash to cover an unexpected $500 expense, MarketWatch reports. It’s likely that even more families would struggle today with a similar expense.
If you don’t already have one in place, now is the time to start an emergency fund. While many experts recommend having at least three months’ worth of expenses saved, don’t let that high number deter you from starting to put money aside. It’s better to start with what you can than to put off prioritizing protecting your family in case of financial hardship.
Making a Difference in Your Finances Before 2021
From protecting your data on the web to checking your interest rates to starting an emergency fund, there’s still time to make these financial moves in 2020. By making them today, you can start the new year off on better footing.
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