Have You Saved Enough Should the Unexpected Happen?
While more Americans than ever say they do, most still say they don’t have the recommended six months of expenses saved, should they lose a job or experience an unexpected illness.
Although it’s true that saving requires discipline, it’s not as difficult as you may think — especially if you follow these six simple tips.
Automate Your Deposits
- Set up regularly recurring deposits from your checking account to your savings account. By doing this, you take things out of your hands completely, which makes it much more likely that you’ll start to accrue substantial savings over time. After all, you can’t “forget” to make a deposit if it’s done automatically.
Put Extra Money Into a High-Yield Account
- Whether it’s a high-yield savings or money market account, your savings will grow faster with a higher interest rate than if you simply put it into a standard savings account. Plus, these accounts often have minimum balance restrictions, which will help prevent you from making unnecessary withdrawals.
- If you get a tax return or a bonus from work, try not to think of the extra cash as a windfall that should be spent on a spree. Instead, deposit it into your savings account, where it can help give you real peace of mind. (And it’s still OK to splurge on a little something for yourself.)
Deposit Your Raise
- If you get a raise, set up your account to automatically deposit the amount of increase it into your savings. If you can live on your current salary — which you’ve already been doing — then why not put the extra away for emergencies?
Consider the “Gig Economy”
- These days, many people supplement their incomes with second jobs or freelance work, such as driving for Uber, renting out their homes via Airbnb or selling homemade crafts on Etsy. This can be a great way to add to your savings. Just make sure you account for income taxes on the additional money you make, or you’ll be in for a nasty surprise at tax time!
- One great way to make some extra money and free up space in your home is to sell unwanted or unused items. Maybe you can set up a garage sale with your neighbors. Or you could sell items on eBay or other secondhand shopping sites. As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” so take a good, hard look at the things piling up in your attic. Who knows … it might be full of gold.
How Secure Is Your Email Account?
We all know that unencrypted emails can be easily intercepted by hackers and snoops, but email account hacking remains one of the prime dangers for online users. Your best defense against email hackers is a strong password that you change regularly. But how do you make a password both difficult to guess and easy (for you) to remember? One that’s long yet speedy to type?
Here’s one strategy for secure email passwords that turns a simple sentence into a complex password and adapts it for your individual email service, too.
Choosing a Hack-Proof Email Password
To create an email password that is hard to crack:
- Pick a sentence you can remember easily.
- This could be a summary of a significant event, a description of your favorite place or the first difficult sentence you learned in a new language.
- Example: Momotaro went walking toward the sea.
- From a hugely popular Japanese fairytale, this sentence is not perfect, of course. Choose something unique and personal that does not yet appear on the web.
- Combine word segments to form a new string.
- Make sure the string is at least 10 characters long. Strive for 12 or more characters, though. Your password’s length is probably the prime ingredient for security.
- Combine word endings, beginnings, and other parts similar to how new words are formed out of two existing words. Make sure the resulting string is easy to remember and has nice ring and rhythm.
- Do not use a process that’s too mechanical — like using every word’s first character, for example.
- Example: momotaro went walking toward the sea = morowewalintodse
- Capitalize two or more characters where it makes sense.
- Choose the “words” that convey your sentence’s core message, for example.
- Do not just capitalize the first or last character.
- Some email systems may not regard case in passwords. You should still use the mixed-case password in these cases, except when the email service requires an all-lower-case password.
- Example: moroWeWalintodSe
- Introduce two or more numbers or other special characters.
- Look for places where punctuation makes sense in your string, preferably somewhere in the middle.
- Turn numbers (in the original sentence) into digits. You can also replace “for” with “4,” and look for other words that convert to numbers easily.
- Some email services may not allow special characters. Make sure you have an all-letter/number password ready and well-established for these.
- Example: moro%WeWa1in2dSe
- The “l” looks a bit like a “1,” so let’s change it.
- “To,” of course, becomes “2.”
- Finally, a percent symbol to represent the story’s hero.
- Include a character or two derived from the email system for which the password is used. This creates a unique password for each email service.
- Make sure you can easily reproduce the characters you come up with.
- Example: moro%OOWeWa1in2dSe
- We use this password for Gmail. Let’s take “oo” from “Google” and turn it into “OO,” then insert it after the percent symbol.
- For Outlook.com, we could choose “TL” derived from “Outlook,” for example, and get moro%TLWeWa1in2dSe.
The final example password is a bit long and cumbersome to type. However, it gives you an idea of how to generate your own unique password.
Alternative Secure Password: A Sentence
If your email service allows for really long passwords, you can use a reasonably long, random sentence as your password. Make sure the sentence is unique — lines from popular books or lyrics are not ideal — and long enough — say, 50 or 60 characters. A unique and quasi-random sentence in a foreign language is usually a good choice.
Beware Social Engineering
No matter how clever and strong your password, a hacker is in if you give it away.
- Never send passwords by email.
- Only enter passwords on websites, and then only if all of the following are true:
- You have opened by typing the address or selecting from your bookmarks
- The site is using a secure HTTPS connection
- You have verified the site’s identity using its certificate
Using these tips to generate your own unique passwords and changing your passwords frequently are the best ways keep your email account secure.