Moving is an involved process whether you are headed across town or across the country. In addition to packing your home or getting it ready for movers, you also have to make sure you do not overlook important details that could affect your credit profile.
1.Change your address. It is easy to miss a bill’s due date -- or miss the bill entirely, if it is sent to an old address. Missed or late payments negatively affect your credit profile. To ensure your mail reaches your new address, complete an online change of address form with the United States Postal Service. Notify all creditors of your new address at least two weeks before you move. You are responsible for making sure your payments reach your creditors on time regardless of when the bill reaches your new address. Remember that it takes longer for forwarded mail to reach its new destination. So, if you still pay bills by mail, know when your bills are due for the next month or two, and implement a system to pay on time.
2.Set up automatic bill payment. The best way to ensure you do not miss a payment or have a late payment is by arranging automatic payments via your bank or credit union. Do this for credit cards, but also for phone, utilities and rent or mortgage. Of course, you still need to pay attention to how much is in your bank account. Plan appropriately so the automatic payments never cause your account to be overdrawn. Overdrafts lead to penalties and fees, and can create a spiral of financial headaches.
3.Switch your insurance. Talk to your homeowner’s insurance company. You will need a new policy for your new residence. You will also need to update coverage on vehicles. Mortgage lenders require homeowners to carry basic property coverage. Confirm whether this insurance will be included in your monthly mortgage bill. Alternatively, if you rent, do not skimp on renter’s insurance. These policies, usually quite affordable, cover personal possessions in the event of a fire, theft or other damages. Moving time also is a good time to check rates and coverage. You may be able to save money by switching insurers or by asking your current company to match a competitor’s lower price quote.
4.Settle up with the moving company. If you hired movers to pack and/or move your belongings, you have a limited amount of time to report any suspected damage or missing items. Make sure any major appliances moved, such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, function as they should. Review your contract to determine liability coverage if you discover a problem.
5.Check your credit report. During a move, your credit reports may be accessed more frequently; it is common for creditors and employers to request them. For renters, new landlords may check them to make sure you pay bills on time. Request a copy of your credit report within six months of your relocation. Make sure your address change was recorded accurately. Also watch for inconsistencies that might indicate that you have been a victim of fraud. During a move, a great deal of personal financial information is exchanged and forwarded via mail and email. It is important to make sure your personal information has not been compromised.
6.Choose a new bank. If you require a local bank branch, a move to a new area may necessitate closing your old bank account and opening a new one. If having a local branch is not a necessity for you, now may be a good time to switch to an online bank or a major financial institution with an established national presence. Before completely closing the account at your former bank, be sure all checks from your old account have cleared and that you have updated your automatic payments to your new bank account.
Moving brings with it a long list of tasks. During and after the move, you are likely to be busy and stressed. Keep a pre-move and post-move list of action items -- especially the ones above -- to make sure nothing is overlooked, and your financial standing remains strong.
Andrew Housser is a co-founder and CEO of Bills.com, a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about personal finance issues and compare financial products and services. He also is co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network, LLC providing comprehensive consumer credit advocacy and debt relief services. Housser holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University and Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.
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