Planning and Budgeting around the Holidays

While spring cleaning may be a distant memory, we challenge you to begin a similarly productive, but entirely new habit to engage in every fall.  So grab an early morning coffee and budget an hour this weekend to button up security vulnerabilities that could hurt your finances and consume countless hours to rectify.  

 
Photo by  Luca Bravo  on  Unsplash

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

What do people do? How does everyone else handle this crazy time between Thanksgiving and New Years without completely blowing their budget or getting off track with their financial goals? Yes, there are very obvious answers such as – don’t buy as much, make things and/or buy gifts throughout the year but let’s just talk this out to see if processing this together helps me and potentially one of you who is reading this.

I’ve been reading articles, listening to podcasts and such hoping that someone is going to give me insider info or a magic website that will solve everything for me! What? You have to? Funny! Anyway, I have found a few things that stand out to me and feel like they might be doable. Now, remember I did just tell you that it is December 3rd and I have done NOTHING so take this with a grain of salt.

 

Don’t forget the basics

  • Enable the pop-up blocker in your website browser 

  • Create a complex password (upper- and lower-case letters, at least one number and a special character); even better, use a password generator 

  • If you suspect that you’ve been hacked, disconnect from your network and wi-fi immediately; contact a professional help desk


Free Credit Freezes

  • Take advantage of a new law that was passed last month which allows consumers to freeze their credit files without charge.  This will make it extremely difficult for criminals to access your account records and establish credit or borrow in your name.  I did this last week and it took about 15 minutes to complete for both myself and my wife.  

  • For more information including the websites of the three major credit bureaus, use this link: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/09/free-credit-freezes-are-here


Modify Your Behavior

Do not open suspicious email 

  • Avoid opening any email if you do not recognize the sender and be aware that fake email often contains obvious by misspellings or hybrid domain names, such as @wellsfinance.com as opposed to the legitimate version, @wellsfargo.com).  

  • Be especially careful to avoid generic emails threatening to close your account or pursue you for unpaid bills.  Someone is trying to prey on your emotions and get a fast reaction.

Do not click links in emails

  • Be sure to access sensitive websites directly, especially when logging onto financial or government institutions, to avoid logging into avoid fraudulent websites.

Only open known attachments

  • You risk infecting your desktop by downloading any file type that you were not expecting. Unless you were expecting a file or need to read it, use precaution.

  • Avoid opening .EXE file downloads in all cases.


Congratulations!! These small steps will buy you some piece of mind and maybe even a well-deserved self-congratulatory smirk the next time you hear a media report on some major website consumer hack.