5 Quick Ways to Get More Money Now

Last Updated Feb 1, 2011 12:27 PM EST

The next day or so is going to be one massive national snow day, as a monster winter storm is expected to make life miserable for about 100 million Americans across the Midwest, Northeast, and the upper South. If your survival strategy includes staying home, and you're not expected to be telecommuting, how about using your down time to save some money?

In the spirit of when the world gives you snow, make snow cones, here are some money moves you've probably been thinking about doing for eons, but just haven't gotten around to:

1. Move your emergency fund into a higher-yielding account. Earning 1 percent on $50,000 is $500 a year. So why are you still letting your emergency fund sit in the same old bank account paying diddly squat? Check your bank's lineup of accounts online and if there's nothing paying at least 1 percent, check out high yield offers at depositaccounts.com and also consider the CD strategy that MoneyWatch's Allan Roth uses to earn more than 2 percent on his savings.

2. Roll over your old 401(k). If you've still got money sitting in your old employer's plan, moving it into a Rollover IRA at a discount brokerage and choosing low-fee index mutual funds or Exchange Traded Funds can literally mean tens of thousands of dollars more for your retirement. And it's not nearly as tedious a process as you think. To get rolling, go to your discount brokerage or fund company's web site and click on the 401(k) Rollover link (I can guarantee you this will be plastered somewhere on the home page).

3. Rebalance your existing 401(k). Shifting your money around to make sure you're sticking with your long-term allocation strategy can contribute to higher returns, as it pushes you to be a bit of a contrarian investor. Here are some tips on when and how to do it from Allan Roth.

4. Price out a new car insurance policy. If you've got the television on while you're reading this (no offense taken), chances are you'll be hit with yet another auto insurance ad within the next 10 minutes. Granted it's getting a bit tiresome, but they are advertising because they are hungry for business. If you haven't re-priced your coverage in the past few years, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings. You can get auto insurance quotes from multiple firms at websites such as Netquote and InsWeb, as well as at the company web sites for insurers such as GEICO and Progressive.
If the quote you get is lower than what you're currently paying, call up your existing insurer and see if they will make a deal. (And if you are currently getting discounts for bundling your home and auto insurance, make sure you check how moving to another auto insurer would impact your homeowner's policy.)

While you're in car insurance mode, run the online calculators to see how raising your deductible can reduce your premium. Switching from a $250 or $500 deductible to $1,000 might shave 10 percent or so off your annual premium. Besides, a higher deductible will nudge you to avoid making smaller claims, which have a nasty habit of causing some insurers to raise your premium at renewal.

5. Confirm your home insurance policy is for replacement cost value. Are you absolutely sure that in the event of a loss your insurer will reimburse you for the current market cost of your damaged items? That's what is known as Replacement Cost Value coverage. If you scan your policy and see Actual Cash Value (ACV), get on the phone ASAP and get it changed. ACV entitles you to just the depreciated value of an item. For example, if your 10-year old roof is damaged in a snow storm -- just saying -- replacement cost will reimburse (up to your policy's limits) based on the current cost of a new roof. With ACV, you would only be reimbursed for the depreciated value of a 10-year old roof, which could be significantly less.

Oh, and one more thing worth doing on your snow day -- plan a vacation. A warm vacation. Granted, this isn't exactly a money saver, but then again, I think saving one's sanity in the midst of this winter from hell is worth plenty. Maybe plan a last-minute getaway over President's Day weekend? Or nail down the details of a summer getaway; just thinking about warm weather at this point has to help. To save the most money, check out CBS Travel editor Peter Greenberg's 10 Best Travel Secrets.

And perhaps we can all find some solace in the fact that tomorrow is Groundhog Day and there is little chance that Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow. That would signal an early start to spring. It can't come early enough this year.

Photo courtesy Flickr user kevin burkett

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