Banking

Wills and Beneficiaries

In today’s Dollar Stretcher email (www.stretcher.com) a poster stated that she hadn’t realized that beneficiaries on accounts override one’s Will. I knew that, and in fact I’m writing a mystery novel that hinges on the idea of a character promising to make someone the sole beneficiary of her Will, and she does, but her assets all have beneficiaries on them, so the heir by Will gets nothing.

It’s wise to periodically review your accounts to make sure your beneficiaries are still the people you want to have it, and for that matter are still alive.

IRA, 401k, POD stocks, real estate, bank accounts: Are you leaving them to the people you want to have them, or perhaps to a former spouse or deceased parent?

 

 

 

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Kindle preview: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00HQKOQBG&asin=B00HQKOQBG&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_gITAxbZWT7SRJ

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Uh-Oh, Check Your Credit Report Real Soon

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/wells-fargo-customers-recall-their-shock-upon-discovering-fraudulent-accounts-124902698.html

You may have heard the latest Big Bank scandal. Under pressure to get customers to open all kinds of accounts, Wells-Fargo employees have been opening accounts that people don’t know about. Some of the victims had only the briefest interaction with the bank, and ended up with credit cards and other accounts they didn’t know about. Some of those accounts incurred fees, and others will have damaged a person’s credit score.

It might be a good idea to go down to your nearest branch and ask one of the desk people to search their records for any accounts in your name.

If you haven’t done it lately, a free check on your credit report could show you any nefarious activity:  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action

Another free source is http://www.creditkarma.com.

Don’t fall for the name in freecreditreport.com, it’s only free with a paid membership.

 

Is Your Password, password?

Then if you haven’t been hacked you are massively lucky and should buy a lotto ticket today. Hackers use password cracking software that tries various passwords until it succeeds. Naturally, they try the most common ones first.

Most common passwords

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. football
  8. 1234
  9. 1234567
  10. baseball

I understand the problem. Naturally, you want something you can easily remember. A far safer method is to use the first letters of a memorable phrase. Instead of ‘football’, how about I Watch 2 Football Games A Day On Sunday – iw2fgados. Using the numeral 2 complies with some sites’ insistence on using at least one number. If a site require a special character, you could start or end with ! If you need four numbers, only, use the phone keypad to determine the number that corresponds to the first four words of your memorable phrase.

Another example: I Love 2 Take Long Walks 4 Health = Il2tlw4h

Each person will have their own ideas about a memorable phrase.

I also use a different phrase for financial sites, like online banking, than I do for ordinary sites, and yet a different one for social media. Facebook is a target of hackers, your password there should never be the same as your password for financial sites.

 

 

Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Tell Your Card Issuer In Advance

Many debit and credit card issuers now watch our accounts for activity that isn’t normal for us, to nip theft in the bud. If a home-body suddenly starts charging airfare and hotels, often they will place a temporary hold on the card until they can contact the customer and confirm that this unusual usage is legitimate.

If you’re not a gamer at all and suddenly buy a raft of them, the card issuer wonders if the card was stolen. They don’t know your grand kids want those for Christmas.

If you aren’t prepared for this, it can slow you down in paying your normal bills and activities with that card.

You can save a little aggravation by calling the company before starting an uncharacteristic series of purchases.

Shredder Alternative

Clearing out papers for the new year? It’s important to destroy any data that could let identity thieves do you harm. Account numbers, date of birth, place of birth (those security questions websites ask you), and most importantly social security number.

The most common suggestion is a shredder. The best shredder is a cross-cut style that makes confetti instead of strips. Theoretically, a patient person could reassemble strips. Personally, I think that as long as businesses and my neighbors are carelessly discarding whole sheets of paper, no one has the motivation to try to piece together shredded strips. If my data is harder to get to than the next person’s it’s relatively safe.

When my shredder quite working a few years ago. I looked around for alternatives. My favorite is tearing off the important parts, tearing them up, and getting them very wet. Once they are soaked and soft, I squeeze the into a very tight ball and throw it out. You can’t tell by looking at it that it’s anything important, and there’s no way to undo it and still be able to read anything.

I read about the idea of disposing of large amounts of paper by soaking them in water in a large bucket or pan until they disintegrate into pulp. I tested this. On day one I tore a bunch of unneeded checks in half and immersed them in water in a soup bowl. Twenty-four hours later they were soft enough to easily pull into small pieces. Three days later they were still soft but showed no sign of turning back into pulp. Maybe I should have used a container large enough that I could stir and mash them. As it was, I just squished the softened checks into a tight ball and threw it out.

52 Weeks to Effective Use of Money

This year, I’m going to take a new topic each week to blog about. Ways to spend less while still living a normal life. Ways to earn some extra money without undermining the quality of your life. Efficient strategies to use the money you have to its best effect. Money I don’t have to spend is money I don’t have to earn. Money I don’t use on boring “everybody does it” stuff is money I can spend on things that really matter to me.

This week is paper products and disposables, because so many Americans use so many paper and disposable products, it’s likely to be useful to many. I recently saw an article that re-defined paper products as not just paper towels, etc., but also paper checks, wrapping paper, anything made of paper.

With the natural progression of technology, I rarely use paper checks anymore. When one more provider starts accepting online payments, I won’t need checks at all. Ordering checks through the bank usually costs more than ordering them online. If you search on “order checks online,” you’ll find many companies. Most of them offer a discount for your first order. If you order from a new company every time, you get the new customer discount each time.

Wrapping paper alternatives can be fun. A receiving blanket makes a suitable wrap for a baby gift. Perhaps a kitchen towel for a housewarming gift. Dollar stores carry themed or colorful plastic tablecloths that can be great for wrapping large or awkward gifts. How about a red-checked tablecloth wrapping picnic supplies or the ingredients for a great Italian dinner. Reusable gift bags and gift boxes save resources and don’t have to be paid for over and over. One year I made Christmas bags from cloth, with drawstrings. If the whole family is on board with this, they can be used year after year and become part of the tradition. Just about any box can be painted, decorated, or covered with cloth to make an original and reusable gift container.

 

Wonderful review

I am so moved by this review. “Tightwad Gazette of the 21st Century” is exactly what I wanted people to think about it:

“Great book!, February 18, 2014

By Lita McRiley “Sorlina”See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely (Kindle Edition)

This book is jam-packed with tips, ideas, and strategies for saving money. It’s the Tightwad Gazette of the 21st century… internet addresses for DIY help, encouragement for readers, personal anecdotes, this book has it all. To top it off, it’s delivered in a light, easy to read style that isn’t preachy or judgmental. A very helpful, and enjoyable, read!”

The Tightwad Gazette has been the “bible” of thrifty living. My hope was to make it the ‘old testament’ and mine the ‘new testament’, and it seems I have succeeded.

.