Financial hacks

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[edit] Treat your Financial Software Like your Alarm Clock

Do you use Quicken, Microsoft Money or some other computer based program to enter your monthly expenses and income in? Set the amount for each of your expenses as $5 - $15 higher than the actual bill amount. When time comes to pay your bills, correct the amount for that instance. This way, if you stick to your budget/forecast, you'll actually have a bunch of extra money at the end of the month.

[edit] Paying Bills

  • Bill box - Put a box near where you sort incoming mail for all your monthly bills and statements. Keep a pen, stamps, and a letter opener in it. When it comes time to pay your bills, everything will be in one place. --User:Edward Vielmetti 21 Mar 2005
    • Bill box refinement - If you get paid more than once a month, have a separate envelope or folder for bills you want to pay after a certain payday, e.g., "Pay on the 1st," and "Pay on the 15th." Then, as your bills arrive, sort them into the appropriate folder based on due date. --Steve 21 Mar 2005
    • Use a bill organizer: It has 32 slots for holding bills. Put the bills in on the day you want to send them out, not their due date. You can also put in birthday cards and other things that need sent out in the mail on a certain date.
  • Virtual Bill Box - Open a separate checking account just for monthly bills. Calculate your monthly household maximal nut (mortgage/power/gas/phone/cable/water/etc) and have payroll direct deposit that much into the bill-pay account. Set all your bills to auto-pay from that account. Never think about it again.--Chazlarson 21 Mar 2005
  • Paytrust (formerly Pay My Bills) is a service that receives your PAPER bills, scans them, and shreds the paper. You receive an email saying "your water bill has arrived" (or whatever); you log into the secure web site, look at the bill you received (literally!) and then authorize payment from your bank account. (That's the big picture; there are a bunch of nice little features, like Quicken integration and a small business version, that also make it useful.) I've been a satisfied customer since 1999 and next to e-statements, this is without a doubt the easiest way to pay bills and not have to think about them. Note that the web site has a moderately crappy interface, but they were recently acquired by Intuit (makers of Quicken, QuickBooks, etc) so I expect big improvements to come. --pnoeric 21:31, 26 Mar 2005 (EST)
  • For small bills, but crucial ones, for example, utility and telephone bills -- estimate average monthly usage, and pay one year in advance. For 12 months, you will get a statement each month with decreasing credit balances -- with no response required of you! (For frequent travelers, this is a reassuring technique.) The general idea is to simplify minor repetitive tasks. --gochess 19:44, 19 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Consolidate onto a credit card, if you aren't credit-crazy. I set all my periodic bills to be paid automatically by the same credit card, then pay my credit card bill once a month (automatically too, but that's just optional). Credit card transactions are a lot easier to reverse than direct bank withdrawals, but still automated. --Ookpik 17:56, 3 November 2005 (EST)
    • Another advantage to this hack is that you accumulate points (if your card offers them) that you can use for flights, nights and other things. It's money you would have spent anyway, so the points are free. --Gilcintron 12:36, 27 October 2006 (EST)

[edit] RSS-ify your online banking

RSS Banking feed in NetNewsWire
RSS Banking feed in NetNewsWire
One extremely useful life-hack is to put together a script that polls your online banking website and converts it to an RSS feed. This can really help you keep up to date with which payments have been taken and if your debit card usage has filtered through to your balance yet.

I ( Fraser Speirs) did this by writing a Perl script that logged into my bank and credit card websites, extracted the necessary information from the HTML page and wrapped that up in an RSS feed. I then installed it in NetNewsWire as a Script Subscription and set it to check every three hours or so.

The script primarily depends on the perl module WWW::Mechanize for the way in which it emulates a web browser, and Crypt::SSLeay to handle SSL encrypted connections. There is little point to posting the source code for my script, since the script is entirely specific to the HTML layout of my online bank. The documentation for WWW::Mechanize is probably a more fruitful starting point.

Note: you will probably be extremely well-advised to consult your bank's Terms of Service before implementing an automated tool to access your account.

--Fraserspeirs 17:35, 23 Mar 2005 (EST)

[edit] Get Alerts

My bank offers email alerts based on transactions you define. For instance you can be alerted via email when a withdraw over $50 is processed. I have these alerts sent to my phone, which allows SMS-via-email to keep up to date on when checks go through or large deposits are made. (Which happens all too rarely!) You could also have these alerts sent to an email account (Gmail perhaps?) and then use that to create an RSS/Atom feed.

--Pete Prodoehl 10:03, 24 Mar 2005 (EST)

If you have monthly standing orders or Direct Debits set up for your bills (in the UK) and use a PDA, create a monthly event or to-do for each of them with the amount in the name. E.g. 'Gas £24.65' Then you can see in your calendar what bills will come out of your account in the next few days, or before your next payday, and stop yourself spending too much.

--Muteboy 11:35, 3 November 2005 (EST)

[edit] Finance Portal

Yodlee offers a free portal view into most all your accounts credit card, utility, bank, etc. You register each account you used with them and yodlee handles consolidating that info and can auto-log you into each credit card site if you want to go there. Yodlee. It's pretty slick. --nocebo 12:37, 26 Mar 2005 (PST)

(An anonymous contributor adds: "You would be crazy to trust any site with all your banking/credit card info. That's nuts!" As with nearly everything in life... caveat emptor.)

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