Its hitting the 70’s here today so even though the groundhog decided on 6 more weeks of winter, it must be time for some spring cleaning! Just like chores around the house, your finances could use a little attention this time of year too. Here’s your Financial Spring Cleaning honey do list.
If you’re like most people you have some monthly bills that began with an intro rate that has since expired. Cable and internet are famous for this rate shell game that punishes existing customers in favor of new ones. Most people know you can call and request a lower rate. Also if you’re like most people you dread calling and are paying too much right now. This is a good time to look up the current intro rate and make that phone call requesting that your rate be lowered for another year. While you’re at it, check the competitors offerings. Internet providers for example are constantly expanding and upgrading. 15 minutes can save you hundreds!
There are so many options now and more coming all of the time. Do you really still need cable or satellite? Here are some services we’ve used and loved.
Antennae – Not a service but serviceable for many people. An antennae can cost as low as $10-20 dollars and for most people will pick up enough channels if you’re not too picky.
Hulu – Great for watching TV shows. There is usually a day lag before a show will post and some shows start disappearing after 5 episodes but if you pay attention to the limitations, Hulu is worth the $7.99 per month.
Sling – If you’re cord cutting but still need your ESPN or Food Network, Sling might fit the bill. The basic 20 channel package is $20 plus tax. This is live TV but some channels do offer the ability to watch previous episodes.
Amazon Prime – If you’re a frequent Amazon customer already, Prime at $99 per year plus tax is a decent option. Prime offers a smattering of shows and movies of the older variety and some original programming. The Man in the High Castle is amazing. If you’re ordering diapers and supplies like we are, Prime is worth a look.
Netflix – Starting at $8.99 plus tax per month, Netflix is one of the best options for movies and original programming. The Marvel shows are some of my favorites.
This is also a good time to review your investment portfolio. Surely some of your holdings have been growing quickly while others may have lagged. As good as it feels to hold on to your winners its time to review your target allocation and move your portfolio back in line. The tool I use is personalcapital.com. You can quickly review against various allocations and decide if a rebalancing is warranted.
While you’re in Personal Capital, click on the fees tab. Due to our work, we are limited in what we can buy so we own mostly mutual funds and ETFs. Depending on type and goal, fees can range anywhere from .02% up to 3% or more. At 3% fees can be eating away half of your investment returns. Keeping your combined portfolio’s annual fees below .1% is a good goal. Over the last year or two I’ve worked to bring us down a low as possible so that now we’re paying an average of .08% per year.
All done? Go clean the garage!
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