Use the Leap Day to Leap Ahead on Your To-Do List
Don’t buy the hype: Leap days are terrible.
Every four years, we create an extra day just to keep our calendar from falling out of alignment with the seasons. Yet, inexplicably, we add that day to what is often the coldest month of the year as if we all want to make the winter just a little bit longer. And of course, more often than not, the leap day ends up falling during the work week, which means salaried employees have to put in an extra 9-to-5 shift at the office in February without actually making any extra money.
Despite all of this though, the leap day does offer us the promise of an extra 24 hours we wouldn’t otherwise have, and while much of that time will be spent at work, everyone will still have at least a few hours before and after to do whatever they want. With that in mind, here are a few simple things you can do with that time to help your finances, improve your job search and maybe even make a little extra cash.
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Start Your Taxes
Uncle Sam was nice enough to extend the tax filing deadline this year by two days, and if you count the leap day, you really have an extra three days to file. But just because you have the extra days doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to file.
Instead, try dedicating a couple hours on Wednesday to getting a head start on your taxes. All you really have to do is get your paperwork together and any of these free tax tools will help you take care of the rest. Think of it this way: the sooner you file, the sooner you can claim your refund, which is expected to be about $3,000 for the average household this year.
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Freshen Up Your Resume and Online Profiles
Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, it never hurts to keep your resume up to date. That way, if a good opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready to pounce on it. At the very least, take the time to update your list of skills and any new responsibilities or accomplishments you’ve had at your current position since the last time you revised your resume. If you really can’t think of any, make a list of what you’d like to accomplish so you can begin working toward those goals at your job starting on March 1.
Along the same lines, devote a few minutes to updating the skills and accomplishments listed on your social network profiles like LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as searching for any additional contacts you may know on these sites. By freshening up your profiles, you may just attract a few more recruiters for potential job opportunities later on.
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Change Your Online Passwords
Whether you know it or not, there’s a decent chance some of your personal data has been compromised online, as massive data breaches become increasingly common. Some Internet users may have changed their passwords after big name companies like Zappos and Sony were hacked, but if not, now is the time.
You should have different passwords for all of your major accounts (banking, e-mail, social networks, shopping, etc) and these passwords should use a mix of letters, numbers and symbols in an order that is impossible to guess (so not “password1234”). Once you’ve picked your passwords, you can use services like LastPass and RoboForm to help keep track of them. Photo Credit: LastPass.com
Review Your Online Privacy Settings
While you’re tweaking your passwords, you might as well take a few minutes to review your online privacy settings as well. If nothing else, look over your privacy settings on each of the major social networks and make sure you know who can see what you post.
Facebook: Click on the “privacy settings” tab in the top right of the screen to make sure that your profile is private (to stop strangers from seeing everything) and to check which apps and websites have access to your Facebook profile.
Twitter: Click on the “settings” tab in the top right of the screen and go to “account” to turn off the feature that displays your location with each post, or click on “apps” to see which websites and applications currently have access to your Twitter profile.
LinkedIn: Click on “settings” in the top right and then “profile,” which will bring up several privacy options including limiting the number of people who can view your feed and turning off the feature that broadcasts all the updates you make to your profile. This way, you can prevent your current employer from noticing that you’re making lots of changes.
We would also strongly suggest that you review the settings on your smartphone if you have one. Most importantly, you should check to see which apps currently have access to your location information and make sure that you’re comfortable with each of them.
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Some readers probably do this far too often as is, but if you haven’t searched for your name in a while, now is a good time to do a little sleuthing. It’s always important to know what people are saying about you online, whether it’s on search engines like Google and Bing or on social networks like Twitter. Take a few minutes to dig deep into the results and see if anyone has complimented or criticized you recently on the Internet. If so, it may be worth reaching out to them.
Moreover, now that Google lets users see personalized and unfiltered search results, you can get a better sense of what others see when they look for your name on the search engine. If your personal website isn’t the first result, consider buying your domain name and creating a Google Plus page, as this can help improve where your name ranks in the results.
Photo Credit: Google.com
Pull Your Credit Report
If you can’t remember the last time you looked up your credit report and credit score, check it now. Every American is entitled to check their credit report for free once a year using AnnualCreditReport.com and you can use websites like Quizzle and CreditSesame to check your score for free as well. If you notice any errors, you can follow these steps to try and get them corrected. If there aren’t any errors but you’re still unhappy with your score, you can follow these steps to try and improve your credit.
Photo Credit: Jason Rogers
Search for Any Unclaimed Funds
Before you call it a day, you might as well take 30 seconds to look up any unclaimed funds that may be held in your name. All you have to do is visit this website to search through the government database of unclaimed funds in any state you’ve lived in. This keeps track of any money that residents may have lost or never received while living in a particular state. Just type in your name and the database will tell you if there is any money waiting for you. Who knows, you may just end the day a little bit richer. If not, you can always try again next leap year.Photo Credit: Getty Images