Friday, August 4, 2017

How to Freeze Your Credit with a Pin

What exactly is a credit freeze?

These credit reporting agencies allow you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily "thaw" your credit so that legitimate applications for credit and services can be processed. That added layer of security means that thieves can't establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your ID.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

Freezes have been available for free to victims of ID theft for some years, but recently all three of the major credit bureaus adopted new rules allowing non-victims to have access to credit freezes as well for a small fee. In addition, most states and Puerto Rico have adopted laws establishing credit freezes for residents of their state.

Residents of various states may also freeze the credit reports of their minor children. Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures to see what the law is in your state.

The cost ranges from $3-$10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report; a couple of states have higher fees. *It is imperative that you freeze your credit with all 3 bureaus.*

The cost to "thaw" your reports for one creditor -- or for a specific period of time -- ranges from being free to $10.

Why bother? - We found this one time expense to be more effective than monthly fee based identity security vendors like life lock etc.

Today I needed to un-freeze my credit so a vendor could pull my credit score. "Google call Transunion" did the trick. They were very helpful and it took about 5 minutes. They charge $10 each time you un-freeze your credit.

Automating Personal Finance

Tired of playing the billing game each month? 

Writing checks, licking envelopes, buying stamps, wondering if you'll be able to cover the bills this month? What a bother. Instead automate your finances. Automating your personal finances is dead simple and works brilliantly helping you win the finance game.  

1) Setup direct deposit

Don't go to the bank anymore - the free lollipop isn't worth your time. Direct deposit. Take payment via google wallet, venmo etc. And work with a bank or credit union that has an app for depositing checks (usually for free). You're not getting paid to go to the bank - break the habit and get your time back.

2) Have enough reserves to weather the storm

Save up a month or two of operating expenses. This covers the bumps in life, if a payroll check doesn't land or the bank has an issue your automation keeps on turning. Low cash flow will quickly torpedo efforts to automate your financial life. A good buffer is usually 2+ months of living expenses. 

3) Setup automatic payments with all vendors for the 1st

Setting up payments to occur on the 1st of the month is usually a call, chat, or website away from being setup. It's worth the 10 minutes to never have to worry about being on time again. Eventually you'll want to setup all your credit cards to pay the full amount on the first of every month - good bye interest payments
Typical vendors:
  • Investments
  • Savings
  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards (we try to make all our purchases on cards and they auto pay every month)
    • Utilities
    • NetFlix
    • Gym
    • etc...

4) Trust and verify

Now that all our money lands the last day of the month and is auto payed the first day of the next month we have a very consistent snapshot of how we're doing financially every month. The automation makes our spending patterns easier to observe and has made our financial life much more predictable. When you're not taking time to write checks and pay bills you free your time and mind up to get strategic with your money. You start looking at the future instead of the now. Here are a few things to check each month to verify you're on track.
  • Check credit score (free with Discover, Chase, etc.)
  • Savings level is improving
  • Net worth (assets - liabilities) is improving. We keep a simple sheet that shows 
    • Assets 
      • House
      • Vehicles
      • Investment 
      • Cash (savings, google wallet, checking, etc.)
    • Long term liabilities 
      • mortgage
      • loans
A blank copy of the google sheet we use is available here. I'm happy to walk you through it the first few times if you'd like 801-318-4262. Over time automating good habits pay off and you can see the proof over time with built in reports.

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