Why give yourself just one gift when you deserve two! And unlike most gifts that lose their value over time, these two gifts will continue to make a real difference in your life.
Gift #1: A Password Manager
A what? A password manager is a software program you install on your computer to store really long gnarly passwords. But the magic is that all you have to remember is a single, simple “master password” to open the password manager program. Then the program does the heavy lifting by remembering and filling in these long passwords for you when you need to login to a site.
When I ask our clients how many use a password manager most will confess to having heard of them, but very few use them. You’d be smart to get one, if for nothing else than to protect access to your key financial websites. I use the Wirecutter website to research things before I purchase them and they have a good review of the best password managers available. All have free versions and the “pro” versions aren’t expensive.
Gift #2: A Credit Freeze (at least it isn’t a gift card for cryotherapy)
In September a new federal law took effect that requires that all three credit agencies freeze your credit access for free when you request this. Then they have to thaw it upon your request. For better or worse, there is no software program involved with these freezes. It requires the somewhat old-fashioned process of picking up the phone and actually calling all three credit agencies to request this freeze.
If you’ve ever dealt with these agencies then you know that they tend to ask you financial questions from your past to confirm your identity. For example, they might ask you the name of the title company that closed on a house you sold thirty years ago. And if you get that correct, then the next question might be what was the title company owner’s favorite color. But if you can get through this hassle, getting your credit freeze is a smart thing to do. Very smart. Unfortunately, it doesn’t protect you completely, but it is a good start. And again as of September, it is free. There are a lot of articles about this on the web, but here is one from Forbes. It has the names and telephone numbers of the three credit agencies you will need to call.