Priority shifts in Washington mean a fourth stimulus check won’t be sent to your mailbox.
While the Biden administration is far from done with efforts to boost the economy in the wake of COVID-19, the focus is now on a massive infrastructure plan, along with a separate, larger budget bill that will include money for childcare, education, healthcare and climate change initiatives.
It’s now been 4 1/2 months since the third checks started going out, and unless you’re ready to get a “bonus payment” from the IRS, you should not quickly count on even more money from the government.
The good news is that with a little creativity you can essentially generate your own incentive: here are seven easy ways to do it.
1. Lighten Your Burden of Student Loans
Payments on federal student loans are on hold until October.
While prominent Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urged the president to forgive up to $50,000 in federal student loans per borrower, Biden expressed doubts about his authority to forgive those debts.
And if you’re in debt from a private student loan, you’re still stuck with your monthly minimum payment, but you can save thousands in interest costs and take years off your debt by refinancing to a lower interest rate or shorter term.
Student loan refinancing rates have fallen to all-time lows since March 2020, but you’ll have to compare loan offers from multiple lenders to get the best possible rate.
2. Reunite with your long-lost money
Maybe you have some money laying there, maybe in an old account that you’ve completely forgotten.
It happens to one in 10 Americans, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which says states are returning $3 billion in unclaimed properties each year to the rightful owners.
You can search state databases of unclaimed funds by visiting MissingMoney.com. There you can see whether you have money in an old checking or savings account, or whether you are entitled to: revenue from life insurance of deceased relatives.
And, check with theirs whether you have missed tax refunds. The agency issued a final call for $1.3 billion in unclaimed repayments from 2017, noting that the median amount is $865. Although you missed the May 17 deadline to file these refunds, if you had the presence of mind to request a deferral of your 2017 return, you have until October 15, 2021 to redeem.
3. Take advantage of your daily purchases
If COVID-19 has gotten you into the habit of making the majority of your purchases online, Amazon and Walmart.com may have become your favorite pastimes. But they don’t always have the best prices, and no one has time to check every store.
So just download a free browser extension for checking prices that automatically searches for offers and coupon codes every time you shop online.
Meanwhile, a popular app helps you invest “change” of your daily purchases, to quickly build savings. With the stock market on record, there’s never been a better time than last year to start building an investment portfolio.
4. Lower the cost of your debt
If you’ve relied on your credit card to get you through the pandemic, you know that your plastic can easily earn you tons of expensive interest.
The Federal Reserve says the average credit card interest rate is 14.75%, and once you factor that in? link interest, paying off your debt can feel like you’re running a marathon where someone keeps adding miles.
Give yourself a breather – and shake off your debt sooner – by throwing your credits at one consolidation loan for debt with lower interest.
5. Lower Your Auto Insurance Premiums
Your auto insurance probably comes in every six months, and it’s very easy to pay your premium blindly without going over the numbers. But that’s exactly how you end up paying more than you should.
Drivers can save an average $1,127 a year by regularly snooping around for the lowest auto insurance rates, according to a study by CarInsurance.com.
Every time your policy is due for renewal, use a website that makes it easy to compare and find the best price.
Don’t forget to look for advertised discounts, such as if your car is loaded with safety features. The insurance company may discount a percentage of your bill for your airbags, anti-lock brakes, or even daytime running lights.
Or you can lower your premiums by agreeing to higher deductibles, which means covering more of your own losses before the insurance kicks in.
6. Refinance your mortgage (if you have one)
Homeowners who haven’t refinanced their loans in the past year now have the opportunity to take advantage of some groundbreaking savings.
With rates on 30-year fixed mortgages back below 3%, mortgage data and technology provider Black Knight recently said 14.1 million homeowners still have the option to save an average of $287 per month with a reference.
You are considered a good refinance candidate if you have at least 20% equity in your home, have your mortgage payments in order, and a credit score of 720 or higher. You should also be able to shave off at least three-quarters of a point (0.75) off your mortgage interest by swapping your loan.
Refinancing is the right move if you plan on staying in your home long enough to break the cost of your closing, which can be anywhere from 2% to 5% of your loan amount. And you can easily create the equivalent of a new stimulus payment for yourself just by refinancing at a better rate.
7. Score savings on your home insurance
As with your auto insurance, you can easily fall into the trap of overpaying for your homeowners insurance if you don’t compare. Prices can go either way.
For example, LendingTree’s ValuePenguin site found that annual Florida home insurance rates can vary by more than $1,500 for coverage that’s practically the same.
You may also miss out on discounts. A popular one is for “bundling,” if you buy your home and car insurance from the same company.
Use a website that will help you see the best deals in your area view quotes from many insurers.
With insurance rates rising every year — ValuePenguin found that homeowners’ insurance premiums have risen 59% over the past decade — it’s just good practice to shop around regularly.