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Personal finance tips: How zombie bills can ruin your credit, and more
Three top pieces of financial advice — from life insurance mistakes to avoid to using rewards cards responsibly
 
Don't let bills fall into the mail ether when you move.
Don't let bills fall into the mail ether when you move. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Zombie bills can ruin your credit
Don't let moving wreck your credit, said Gerri Detweiler at Credit.com. When you're switching addresses, it's important to make sure final or unexpected bills don't go unnoticed. If accounts still have a balance and remain unpaid, they could go into collection and ding your credit score. To avoid that scenario, send a letter to any accounts you need to update or close and ask for a confirmation number. Remember to "check your balances the month you move, the month after you move, and six months after you move" to make sure no wayward bills or balances are lingering on your report. Monitor your credit, too, since "any unexpected drop in the score could indicate a problem."

Life insurance mistakes to avoid
Common life insurance gaffes can cost you a bundle, said Hank Coleman at Daily Finance. For one, don't "leave savings on the table by blindly renewing" your policies. If your insurance automatically renews, give your carrier a call to try to "negotiate a discount." And remember to "re-examine your coverage" every few years, especially after any significant life events, such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or major purchases, like a new home. Finally, remember that there's safety in numbers. "If you want a good deal on products and services, life insurance included, you need to get multiple quotes." That includes premiums, but also benefits. "Read all of the clauses in your policy" and "understand exactly which perils" the insurance will cover. "While price of the premiums may be the same among many policies, the terms and clauses may be the differentiating factor."

Using rewards cards responsibly
If you use credit cards to rack up rewards, beware, said Kristin Wong at Lifehacker. Many cards offer "great incentive programs," but the rewards game can be "like playing with fire," especially if you use the cards to pay for everyday expenses. Opening a new card can shave a few points off your credit score, but so can closing one, since it reduces your debt-to-income ratio. A better approach "is to leave the card open and simply not use it after you've earned whatever sign-up bonus it offers." For heavy rewards cards users, the best way to protect your score is to pay the cards in full every month and never pay interest. Stick to your budget and never "use rewards as an excuse or reason to spend more."

 
Sergio Hernandez is business editor of The Week's print edition. He has previously worked for The DailyProPublica, the Village Voice, and Gawker.

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