If you are reading this, the Mayans were wrong.
Well, perhaps not the Mayans -- there is scant evidence they believed the end of their calendar would beget an apocalypse. But anyone who interpreted that calendar to mean that the world would end on December 21, 2012 certainly got it wrong.
The world not ending is wonderful news, of course. It means we get to experience the joys of this planet a little longer. But with all that enjoyment comes responsibility. Here are six things you may not have gotten around to yet, but that you really should handle now that world will go on:
- Set up a long-term financial plan. Or, if you already have one, update it. Too many Americans save for retirement in a random, haphazard manner. It's a little like driving a thousand miles with no idea where you are going. You might not like where you find yourself in the end.
- Review your telecommunications services. Few aspects of day-to-day life have changed more in the past 20 years than telecommunications. The Internet has radically altered how people spend their leisure time, and the convergence of cable television and telephone services means that there are new and more competitive packages of services available. Add to that the redundancy of land lines in many cases, and it's clearly a good time to rethink your telecommunications services. Matching what you receive with what you use and finding the most competitive package could save you a hefty sum of money.
- Update your will and related documents. Things change, such as financial resources, your family's needs, and your health. When they say "Last Will and Testament," they don't mean it's the last time you should ever review it and make changes.
- Shop your insurance. When you add up what you pay for life insurance, auto insurance and home insurance over the course of the year, you'll probably find it's one of the biggest expenses in your budget. That plus the fact that premiums are based on a number of dynamic factors make insurance a prime candidate for regular reviews.
- Shop your bank business. Rates on savings accounts have all but disappeared, and fees on checking have risen. The only way to fight these trends is to shop for a better deal now and then.
- Adjust your CD terms. While you are looking at bank issues, think about whether you have a CD that you've let roll over automatically again and again. Ordinarily, if you are doing this with a short-term CD it would mean you could probably do better with a longer-term CD. Now though, with even long rates below 1 percent, it's rolling over long CDs that you might want to guard against. Do you really want to be locked in for five years at these rates?
So the good news is that the world didn't end. The bad news is you may have some work to do to secure your financial future -- now that there is going to be a future.