Throw away your checkbook?
By David Uffington
“Easy Money” by Liz Pulliam Weston (FT Press, $17.99), subtitled “How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life,” offers forward-looking information for those who are Internet savvy — or who would like to be.
Full of solid financial advice on finding the best credit cards, managing risk in your retirement investing, saving for college and more, Weston parts company with most financial advice books in her extensive chapter on setting up your finances on the computer.
While handling your money on the Internet isn’t for everyone, Weston does make a point. By the time you get a bank notice in the mail saying you’ve bounced a check, more checks will have failed to clear because you weren’t notified in a timely manner. Same with a stolen credit-card number: If the credit-card company doesn’t notice a pattern and call you, thieves could max out your card overnight. With online banking and credit-card access, you can view your accounts daily.
Weston has a number of suggestions for simplifying your life with online banking:
Link your accounts to make it easier to move money from one account to another, such as from checking to savings.
Have your paycheck deposited automatically.
Set up overdraft protection.
Set up bill pay alerts to make sure you don’t miss important payment dates.
Think about switching to electronic bills and statements.
Pay your bills electronically or sign up for automatic debits.
There are caveats to online finance, and the biggest is to be certain you have excellent antivirus protection on your computer. Add a firewall to that to be safe, Weston suggests.
She cites a study that shows how those who monitor their accounts online catch problems faster, reducing the financial damage from an average of $4,543 per incident to $551.
Here are some more things to watch out for:
√ Don’t access your accounts from a wireless hotspot or public computer. Trust only your own home computer.
√ Keep your browser updated.
√ Check for security on financial sites. Look for the “S” in the address, as in “https.”
“Easy Money” will be published in late November, which gives you time to secure your computer, should you decide to toss out your checkbook.
Write to David Uffington in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.