Managing the nuts & bolts of home finance feels like a full-time job. Here's a link to 36 shortcuts for tackling "pesky—but essential—financial tasks for home, college savings, taxes, and life management."
The list of 36 financial shortcuts --"an easy-to-use Essential Financial Tool Kit" -- appears in the May issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The list of "36 common, sticky financial tasks" includes: "Learn how to lock in a cheap mortgage rate, get a bigger paycheck, obtain a [reliable!] credit score, and more—in five steps or less:"
Here's a sample of three items from the list:
"How to Boost Your Paycheck: Use Kiplinger’s easy withholding calculator to find out how many exemptions you are entitled to claim. That will determine how much tax is withheld from your paycheck. 2. File a new Form W-4 with your employer to increase the number of exemptions. 3. Revise your W-4 anytime you experience a major life change that can affect the amount of taxes you pay—marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or a home purchase.
How to Lock in a Cheap Mortgage Rate
Compare apples to apples. Choose the size of the loan you want; the type, either fixed-rate or adjustable (with an initial fixed-rate period of one, three, five or seven years); and the term. 2. Go to Freeratesearch.com to find the day's best "par" rate (similar to a carmaker's dealer price) for the loan you want. 3. Call lenders, beginning with the company that originated your current loan. Start just after 11 a.m. EST, when lenders typically issue their daily rate sheets. 4. Know your costs. The annual percentage rate can sometimes be confusing, so ask each lender to break out the interest rate, the number of points you’ll have to pay, plus any lender or broker fees. 5. Lock in your rate. Get it confirmed in writing via e-mail or fax ASAP.
How to Get Your Credit Score
Plenty of places will give you your credit score, but not all of them are reliable. Of the three credit bureaus, only Equifax sells the ubiquitous FICO score that 95% of lenders use. 1. Log on to http://myfico.com/. Under "Products," select FICO Credit Complete ($47.85 for scores and reports from each of the three credit bureaus). 2. Create an account by entering your personal information, including your Social Security number and birth date. 3. To verify your identity, answer a few questions relating to information in your credit file that only you would know. 4. Print out your scores and reports and save them for your records.
See other shortcuts for money tasks by visiting: http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2008/05/financial-toolkit.html