Do you remember that warning on TV from years ago? It asked, “It’s 10:00 P.M., parents; do you know where your kids are?” It was done as a public service announcement in the hope that parents did know where their kids were all the time and were aware of the dangers in not knowing.
I would like to use this article as a public service announcement asking you to be aware of something other than your kids. My public service announcement would go something like this: “Hey, Mr. & Mrs. DC, it’s August; do you know where your money is?”
Well do you?? Better yet, do you know where it is and what it is doing for you or against you? Again, I ask, do you?
If you can honestly answer, “Yes,” to those questions, good for you. If you hesitated or don’t know the answers, I suggest you read on. This was written with your name on it! It may be the best thing you ever did.
When was the last time you sat down and took a good long look at your bank statements? Do you really know how much they are charging you in fees each year? Have you ever added them all up? It’s time that you did. Now add up what they paid you in interest on all of the money that you had in all of your accounts. I will bet you that you paid more in fees than they paid you in interest. That needs to be corrected now! Armed with your figures, it is time to march down to your friendly bank and tell them that this is no longer acceptable. If you haven’t noticed, there are as many banks around as there are Starbucks! They all want your business. See who will give you the best deal. Remember, it’s August and you need to know that your money is safe and working as hard as possible for you—not your bank!
Have you checked your credit card statements lately to see what you are paying in interest? It is the “APR” number that is usually posted at the bottom in the fine print. If it is over 12%, it is time to give them a call on their 800 number and tell them you get offers every day for interest charges below 10%. You can save a bundle here too. All of your credit card companies may not lower your rate; so you also want to ask for an increase in your total credit limit. This way you will cancel, in writing, the high ones and transfer the balances to the ones that will lower your rate. All it takes is a few calls from you to know where your money is and how well it is being treated.
Time to dig out those insurance policies and do a review. We are just going to look at the property and casualty ones, that is, your homeowners, auto, and any “floater” policies. If you don’t want to waste an evening doing that, call your agents and ask them to send you a list of those policies and what the deductibles are on them. They all have deductibles. I would suggest that you raise your deductibles to at least $1,000 on all of them. Why? Because, if you had a small claim, you probably would not submit it in fear that they would raise your rates or even drop you. If that is the case, then why pay for a low deductible? This can save you some money too. By the way, you should request a summary of all of your policies so that you can really see what you have and what you are paying for. You need that updated every year. It might also help knowing which premiums are for personal coverage and which are for your practice, and which ones are deductible.
I have given you three areas to take a good look at and see what can be done to improve the health and welfare of your money. Money can and will work hard for you if you make sure that it is being treated properly. Be kind to your money and it will be kind to you!
In future columns, we will expand the search to help you liberate more of your money and get it back to work in a safe environment. So, hopefully, the next time you’re asked, “It’s August; do you know where your money is and what it is doing for you?” you can just sit back and smile!
Stanley B. Greenfield has been engaged in the fields of Financial Management and Insurance since 1962. He is a Registered Financial Consultant, and was awarded the designation of RHU, Registered Professional Disability and Health Insurance Underwriter, in 1979, as one of its Charter Members. Mr. Greenfield has authored thousands of articles concerning tax, financial, and practice management, and has spoken throughout the world on these subjects to both business and professional associations. He is a regular contributor to numerous other professional journals. Mr. Greenfield also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Chiropractic Foundation for Education and Research. You may reach him at [email protected], call 800-585-1555 or 904-513-2229 or visit his website, www.stanleygreenfield.com.