15-Minute Money-Saving Moves
- Crunch the numbers on mortgage refinancing. Rates are at historic lows for fixed and adjustable-rate loans, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president at the mortgage-data website HSH.com. Pull out the HUD-1 form from your current mortgage—the fee will be a good indication of what the refi cost will be, he says. Then use a calculator at Bankrate.com or HSH.com to see how many months it'll take to recoup that—as well as the total amount you'll save in interest over the life of the loan.
- If you rent your home, try to pay less. Over a third of landlords lowered leases this year, says Rent.com President Peggy Abkemeier-Alford. "There are real costs to bringing in new tenants, and property owners would rather avoid that," she says. Check Rentometer.com as well as local listings for current prices, which you can use as a starting point, and then call the landlord with your request.
- Thwart errors and identity thieves by ordering a free credit report from TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax at AnnualCreditReport.com. Being familiar with each document can help you detect fraud early on. Gerri Detweiler, an adviser for Credit.com, suggests requesting all three, since the bureaus don't share information, and it's the best way to spot problems. When the reports arrive, do a line-by-line review of each.
Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.