Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Take an hour to complete each of these tasks. It will be time well spent — and could save you time and money later on.

Set up online bill paying

With Mint Bills (,) you can track and pay bills and receive reminders of upcoming due dates. (Your bank may offer the same service.) Mint Bills is free if you pay bills directly from a bank account. To link each bill, search for the provider and enter either the account number or the username and password that you use to log in to the account online.

Sell old gadgets

Brush the dust off old smartphones, tablets or other devices and head to,, or Amazon Trade-In to get an instant quote. Back up your info to the cloud or save to a different device before popping the device in the mail. Delete personal data from your smartphone by erasing or removing the SD or SIM card, and restore the phone to its factory settings. For computers, “deauthorize” any digital rights management software, such as iTunes, and disassociate your Apple ID or other accounts. You’ll also need software that erases data, such as Active@KillDisk, which you can download free.

Lower auto insurance premiums

Go to your state insurance department website (find links at and find its car insurance buyer’s guide. Pick the six insurers with the lowest rates for the example closest to your situation, and call the insurers to get price quotes for identical coverage. If you find a better rate, your current insurer may offer to beat the quote. You can also get help from an independent agent (go to Or compare rates from several insurers at and

Save on prescription drugs

Use your insurer’s web tools to see how much money you can save by switching to generics or therapeutic equivalents that may cost a lot less under your insurance plan. (Check with your doctors before you switch.) Also find out if your insurance plan has a preferred pharmacy with lower out-of-pocket costs or if you can save money by using a mail-order pharmacy. Compare costs by pharmacy and get coupons at

Audit your home’s energy usage

Spot energy leaks and inefficiencies with the Home Energy Saver ( Gather specific energy ratings for your heating, cooling and water-heating equipment from the labels or user manuals. Enter your zip code to receive estimates of energy costs and usage for typical and efficient homes in your area. Then follow the prompts to add more information. The resulting report will show you how much you spend on energy annually and how much you could save with recommended upgrades.

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