By Karen Lynch | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
5 Min Read | November 06, 2019 in Life
Moving to a new home ranks fairly high on the medical world’s list of stressful life events, but a drop in your financial status scores nearly double.1 So when moving, a great way to avoid stress is to handle the financial side of your move as carefully as you carry your most treasured possessions. Here are five steps you can add to your moving checklist to help stay on firm financial ground.
Congratulations! You’ve already purchased or rented your new home, so you’ve passed enough credit checks to qualify as a solid financial citizen. During the move, don’t make any major changes to your finances (other than committing to that king-size mortgage). It’ll just complicate matters, including your credit score.
Next, set your expectations correctly as you move. Whether or not some of your moving expenses are covered in a job relocation package, know that they are no longer deductible under the new U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.2
Moving checklists abound on the web, including advice on everything from sofas to sorting to storage. Many emphasize the importance of contacting your various merchants and service providers, early, to avoid missed bills and service lapses.
High on these lists are financial service providers and government agencies that are significant to your financial profile. In addition to notifying the post office, which will forward your mail for a year, contacts include tax agencies, the Social Security Administration, employers, banks, lenders, credit card companies, investment advisors, and insurance companies, according to moving.com.3
One important part of the process could be notifying your credit card company, online, which will in turn update credit reporting agencies’ records. But there could be a lag of 30 to 45 days, according to one of the leading agencies.4 In the meantime, purchases subject to a credit report, such as a cell phone contract, could be denied by merchants if your personal information is out of date. So you might want to notify the agencies directly.5
When updating your credit card, keep the complete picture in mind. All of those online shopping sites you belong to will need the updated info as well. You’ll probably want to do your favorites in advance.
What happens if someone sends a bill to your old address and it never finds its way to your new place? A payment delayed by only a few days can lower credit scores, given that payment history accounts for about 35 percent of a credit score calculation, according to Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO).6 A missed payment might also subject you to interest and fees, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and could get you in hot water with creditors if left unaddressed.7 You might want to take advantage of your online change-of-address sessions to go paperless.
You’ll also want to cancel any auto-renewing subscriptions to cable services, gyms, or other local businesses in your old neighborhood.
The process of moving to a new home is full of lures for identity thieves, according to AARP. You’re probably getting rid of a lot of old paperwork as you move. So, consider shredding any that includes your social security or other personal identification information, to avoid theft by dumpster divers. (Even when selling your home, during open houses, think about locking away your sensitive documents.) Transporting your important papers and your computer yourself can act as an extra precaution.8
You can avoid running out of funds during the move by leveraging any interest-free period on your credit cards, where available, and keeping extra cash on hand.
Everyone from moving specialists9 to lifestyle gurus10 has posted advice online about establishing business and social relationships in your new community. They suggest having utilities activated several days before arriving, for example, and getting your old doctors to recommend new ones. You can pick your favorite checklist for moving and tailor it to your own needs.
Then, to establish good money management habits in your new life, it helps to set up payment reminders with your bank or turn on automatic payments with credit card companies and lenders. Speaking of which, you might want to resist the temptation to buy too much new stuff—all at once—for your exciting new home.
When moving to a new home, you might lose sight of important financial details amid the myriad arrangements. Your moving checklist should include steps to avoid any lapses or other mishaps that can harm your credit history and introduce complications into your life in a new community. Good luck with the move, and may all your “Aha!” moments be good ones.
3 “Change of Address Checklist: Who to Notify When You Move,” moving.com
4 “Changing Your Address on Your Credit Report,” Experian
7 “Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times,” University of Wisconsin-Madison
9 “10 Pieces of Advice for Settling in a New City,” moving.com
10 “Moving Timeline,” MarthaStewart.com