In our overly scheduled world with meetings, responsibilities, and kids activities it can be incredibly easy to lose sight of certain issues that leak money right out of our wallets. To help you save money, I’ve got a list of things you should be checking at least annually to ensure your not losing money and wasting your hard earned resources.
These errors, when ignored, can translate into thousands of lost dollars. Here’s how to dodge these costly mistakes.
Save Money By Fixing These Costly Money Leaks
1. Fix Credit Report Errors
Everyone should check their credit report for mistakes at least annually. Two of the biggest problems include incorrect reporting of late payments or outstanding bills which can make it harder to get approved for a loan or help you get the best interest rate possible. The second is the misspelling of your name or a wrong address which could be an indication someone has tried to take out credit in your name.
Fix It Fast – Order your three credit reports from a site like AnnualCreditReport.com and look for errors. If you find one, write to the credit bureau where it appears and ask for a correction. Include copies of any supporting documents, then send your letter certified mail with return receipt requested. If the bureau confirms the mistake, they will fix it.
2. Contact Your Insurer With Updates
It’s a good idea to review you home and automobile policies with your insurance company annually. Often they have outdated information that could be costing you hundreds of dollars. Simple changes in your life create real savings such as reaching a certain age, driving fewer miles and joining individual associations. All these could qualify you for significant discounts.
Fix It Fast – Call your insurers and ask about all the discounts they offer their customers. Let them know any changes that have occurred that now make you eligible for lower rates.
3. Review Medical Bills
49% of all medical bills contain errors. So if you think your bill is too high, you’re probably right.
Fix It Fast – Ask your health care provider for an itemized statement so you can see all the items you were charged for. If the bill contains “CPT” codes you don’t understand, contact your insurer to find out what they mean. If you’re being billed for the wrong treatment, duplicate charges, or other errors, call your health care provider’s billing department to dispute the charges. Also, let your insurer know about the mistakes and they often will take care of disputing the charge for you.
4. Review Cable/Heat/Light/Phone Bills
I once ignored my phone bill for so long that when I finally opened it and checked it out, I saw countless errors that cost me hundreds of dollars. Luckily I was able to recoup that money, but it taught me a valuable lesson in checking all charges on any of my bills.
Fix It Fast – Check bills monthly when they come in. Some companies will only let you dispute charges going back a few months.
Mistakes in residential accounts are often easy to spot, especially if your bills have been relatively consistent. To find them, simply make side-by-side comparisons of several months’ charges, or, at least, look back into your checkbook to compare the total amounts you paid for the last few months.
Even if nothing strikes you as irregular, check every bill for mathematical slips. These kinds of errors are relatively common, audit specialists say. Sometimes, it’s nothing more than a misplaced decimal point, so do the math yourself.
Are You On The Wrong Plan?
A 2011 study revealed that Americans alone overpay an average of $336 on their phone plans. Are you using those 1,000 minutes per month? If not, it could be time to change your plan. Also, be sure to check for any hidden money-sucking features that have been added on such as “3-way calling” or “unlimited voicemail storage.” What about your land line? When was the last time you used it? Maybe it’s time to consider dumping it?
Go through your bills and see what does and doesn’t still apply to your current lifestyle. Pick up the phone and make adjustments as needed.
5. Review Bank Statements
If you allow companies to automatically deduct payments from your bank account, then you’ll want to scrutinize your bank statement each month to ensure there are no errors.
Fix It Fast – If you find an electronic transfer error, it can take up to 10 business days to determine if an EFT error has occurred. The bank will investigate and should respond to you within three business days of completing its investigation.
If the bank cannot make a decision within ten business days, it may take up to 45 days to determine if an error has occurred. In this case, it must provisionally (temporarily) reimburse your account.
Fixing money leaks and saving money isn’t rocket science, but it does require discipline and attention to detail.
You can always find new ways to save, but recouping lost money might be a bit more challenging. Tighten the spigot and get control of those money leaks and errors. You could save hundreds in the long run.