If you are having trouble trimming the fat from your budget, it might be because you do not realize that you are paying too much for some things. And by too much, I mean paying anything at all. The truth is that there are plenty of ways to get things for free these days. Here are 4 financial products you might be paying too much for:
1. Credit Report
You know you need to check your credit report regularly to stay on top of things. But you don’t need to always pay for it. You are entitled, by law, to one free report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Head over to annualcreditreport.com to get your report. Check a different report every four months, and you can keep tabs on your report. And don’t be fooled by imitators that promise a free report — and then saddle you with a monthly subscription.
2. Credit Score
If you get your credit score, you normally have to pay for it. However, if you are interested in keeping general tabs on whether your score is going up or down, you can look at the TransUnion version for free at CreditKarma.com. It’s a great place to go if you just want a general overview, and if you are interested in catching major drops, or tracking upward progress.
3. Bank Account
Double check your bank accounts. What kinds of fees are you paying? Does your bank have a minimum balance fee on your savings account? Are you being charged for your statement? Is there an annual fee attached to your debit card or overdraft protection? Go over your statement, and discover the fees. And then switch to an account that doesn’t charge those fees.
4. Personal Finance Software
There is no reason to pay for personal finance software when you can get access to free apps online. There are a number of quality personal finance tools that can help you keep track of your income and spending. These tools can also help you set budget goals, pay down debt and track your investment accounts. Many of these tools will let you link to your bank accounts, providing up to the minute information. Consider Mint.com, Wesabe.com, gnucash.org, debtgoal.com and moneyStrands.com.