Tips from Jean Chatzky, AARP financial ambassador
1. Shop around for insurance. Auto insurers have a tactic called "price optimization." They raise premiums based not on your risk factor, but on how much of an increase they believe you'll accept. At renewal time, ask your current insurer to do better.
2. Before discussing your next raise, call HR and ask for your "salary range." This is the low-to-high range of what your company pays for a specific job. Knowing where you are in the range can help you negotiate and may be the impetus for getting more training.
4. With Social Security, 80 is the magic number. If single and you think you will live past it, wait until age 70 to begin collecting, to receive the maximum benefit. For couples, as long as you believe one of you will live past 80, the higher earner should delay as long as possible.
5. If you're going to put money into renovations, you'll boost your home's value the most when you replace your front or garage door, add a deck, turn an attic into a bed/bath or give your kitchen a face-lift, according to Remodeling magazine's 2014 Cost vs. Value report.
6. When you spend heavily on credit cards in one month, consider paying the bill in two increments. Next to paying bills on time, the factor affecting your credit score the most is "utilization" — the percentage of credit you have available that you're actually using. People with the highest scores keep utilization under 10 percent. Paying your bill down twice in the month keeps a lid on this number.
7. Consider tax diversification in your 401(k). Many plans have added Roth 401(k)s — which, like Roth IRAs, allow you to contribute dollars you've already paid taxes on, then withdraw the money in retirement tax free. If you think your tax bracket will go up in the future, stashing some contributions here can be smart.
8. Think small. Some smaller banks and credit unions will pay more than the going interest rate (i.e. about 2 percent) on checking accounts, even with balances of $10,000 or more. The catch: You might have to make direct deposits and use your ATM/debit card at least 12 times a month.
9. Talk to the vet about drug discounts or free samples for your pet. Ask if pet prescriptions can be filled at a human pharmacy. If so, the $4 prescription price for some drugs at Walmart can be a big money saver.
Also of Interest
- Consumer spending mistakes and regrets
- Fitness fads that boomers loved and left
- Find great volunteer opportunities in your community
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