3 Best Money Moves to Make in July

Ohether you can’t believe this is already July or you wonder how it is only July, the facts are the facts: 2022 is halfway there.

So in this month’s episode of Money Moves, we’re helping you do a mid-year checkup to keep your finances strong for the rest of the year..

Also on file is good news for your credit report, plus savvy tips for Amazon Prime Day and other seasonal sales.

Let’s go. Here’s an airy financial to-do list for a steamy July.

1. Check your finances on impulse

As an annual midpoint, July is the perfect time of year to check on your personal finances.

Remember those financial New Year’s resolutions? How are they? Resolutions are rarely easy, but chances are you didn’t anticipate the headwinds caused by an inflation rate that has been above 8% for several months when you set your financial goals.

Soaring prices have upended almost everyone’s budget. This month, it’s a good idea to revisit your spending and saving habits — maybe kickstart a resolution or two. In response to inflation, many people are changing their grocery lists, limiting non-essential spending, and altering their commutes. But don’t beat yourself up if you have to reduce (or even eliminate) a savings goal in these difficult times. The idea here is to get a feel for where you stand and try to keep your basic personal finance basics covered.

You do not know where to start ? Here are some quick inspirations:

  • Start by saving for an emergency fund that can cover at least a few months of expenses.
  • Then start building your retirement nest egg by signing up for a 401(k) through your employer and/or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) on your own. Be sure to take advantage of at least any employer-sponsored matching contributions.
  • From there, you can prioritize paying off high-interest debt (if you have any), top up your emergency fund to cover between six and 12 months, or increase your retirement contributions.

If you are a seasoned investor who is well past this stage, take this as a signal to check your portfolio. The bear market can get on your nerves, but you can take safe action. Financial advisers recommend that you can use this time to rebalance — and plan to do so regularly — to ensure your asset allocation matches your current goals, risk tolerance and timeline.

2. Pull your credit report to see if your medical debt has been removed

As of July 1, the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) are beginning to review how they handle medical debt on your credit report.

The first change, and perhaps the most important, is that all medical debts that have been paid off will be deleted. Automatically. Under the old rules, if your medical debt was in collection, it could continue to hurt your credit score long after you paid it off. This information will simply no longer be displayed.

In addition, unpaid medical bills that go into collection will take longer to appear on your credit reports: a full year, compared to six months previously. This will give you a bit more time to negotiate the debt before it affects your credit.

Starting in 2023, credit bureaus will also no longer include medical debts of $500 or less that have been collected on credit reports.

The bureaus estimate that these changes will eliminate about 70% of medical debt in collections from consumer credit reports.

According to the CFPB, medical debt has tainted the credit reports of some 43 million Americans. If paid medical debt has hurt your credit, you should check your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion this month to make sure it is no longer counted against you.

You can pull your reports from all three bureaus simultaneously on AnnualCreditReport.com. (Make sure the URL is correct. There are many similar scam sites.)

Normally, you can retrieve your credit report free of charge from each of the three main bureaus once a year. But because of the pandemic, the companies have decided to allow you to withdraw your report for free. once a week until the end of 2022.

Once the changes take effect, you may notice a slight increase in your credit score.

3. Prepare for Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day (uh, days?) is almost here. This year, the two-day event takes place on July 12 and 13 and kicks off at 3 a.m. on July 12.

That said, you can expect some deals to close sooner.

It’s a members-only event, so you’ll need an active Amazon Prime account, which typically costs $14.99 per month or $139 when billed annually. (Discounts are available for students and people receiving certain government benefits.)

But you might be able to get in for free, so to speak. If you’ve never had a Prime account or if your Prime subscription expired more than 12 months ago, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to access all offers. Remember to turn off auto-renewal billing when you are done with your excessive purchases.

Amid the deluge of ads and (seemingly) reduced prices, you’ll need to keep your cool. As Martha White reported for Money, you’re likely to encounter plenty of “retail sleight of hand” aimed at tricking you into thinking you’re getting a good deal.

White suggests that you completely ignore the original list price. To judge whether it’s a gimmick or an offer, you can use price trackers like CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see the item’s price at different times over the past year.

Of course, Amazon isn’t the only company making sales in July. If you can’t find the deals you wanted — or want to shop in person — major retailers like Best Buy, Lowe’s, Target and Walmart are hosting similar “Black Friday in July” events.

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