The Best Personal Finance Tips of 2012
As we near the end of 2012, we all tend to reflect back on how the past year has treated us, what we learned, and what we can do differently in the next year. As the world economy struggles to get going again, we all are thinking more and more about our finances. How can we get control of our money? Should I start a budget? Where should we store excess cash? All questions that you ask yourself are all great because it means that you are taking the steps to talk about money. Here at Debt Roundup, I felt it was appropriate to get some of the personal finance blogs that I enjoy to contribute their best piece of advice for anyone looking to learn about money. I was more than impressed with the ones willing to provide their money tips. We have all been around money problems before, some of us still are, but if you can take one of these tips and apply it in 2013, then I know you will be better off.
My best financial tip is to get your emotions in check before you make a purchase. Emotional spending can cause a lot of buyer’s remorse and that is never good when dealing with money and budgeting. If you are an emotional spender,then take a step back before you purchase and weigh the pros and cons. Take 24 hours and if you still need to purchase the item, then at least you will have thought about it more. Keep your emotions in the parking lot.
Without further ado, here are the best personal finance tips of 2012 from some of the best financial bloggers. Enjoy!
P.S. I know this is a long list, but it is well worth it. Take your time to read each tip and soak it in. If you follow just one, then you will start out 2013 in the right direction!
Jake from iHeart Budgets said:
Before you do ANYTHING, get a month ahead on your finances. Save up enough money so that you have all the money for the upcoming month in your account when the 1st of the month rolls around. This has really shown our family what financial peace can be. We don’t fight about money, we don’t worry if it’s going to be there, and we don’t care when the bills are due, because we’re already ahead of it.
K.K. from Living Debt Free Rocks said:
Set an actual date for your goal. If you want to become debt free calculate your debt freedom day. Same thing goes for savings and retirement; put a fixed date on when you want to achieve it. Even if your retirement day is 30 years from now, break that down into smaller chunks and target to save $50k within the first 7 years, $100K within 10 years and so on. Those with defined goals stand a better chance of success.
My tip is for people who have a tendancy to spend money just because it’s in their account, not because they actually need something, and at the end of the pay period say they have nothing left over to save or put towards debt. Every few days log into your bank account. Take the balance and round it down to the nearest $5, $10, $20, or whatever interval you choose. Take the difference and transfer it to your savings account or whatever debt you’re trying to pay off. It’s such a small amount of money that you won’t really notice it affecting your spending ability, but it will surprise you how quickly it adds up. You might also find that it hurts less than trying to put a hard cap on your spending, because the size of the transfer is no bigger than a cup of coffee or lunch out with friends. I did this while I was paying off my debt, and trust me it made a huge difference. Better to start small than not at all.
Jim (A Debt Roundup Reader) said:
Best financial tip I can give to parents – teach your kids to work for the things they want. Once they’ve got some skin in the game it makes it really clear to them what things costs – and may make them rethink whether they really want that “thing”. That alone will fund your retirement.
Jennifer Lynn from Broke-Ass Mommy said:
Seriously, if you don’t have the money saved up and set aside, don’t buy it! It really is that simple.
Harry from Your Personal Finance Pro said:
I am still amazed by the power of compounding interest. This is the first thing that I teach to newbie investors. Saving a little now is better than saving nothing for retirement, always! You can use simple calculators online to see just how much of a difference early savings can make. I’m all about making small sacrifices now so that I may live comfortably later on in life.
Chris from Stumble Forward said:
Focus on doing the right things long enough. Once you know what the right things are simply stick to the plan. I’ve found that the hardest thing to do is stick to a plan, but when you focus on the right things and do them long enough you will eventually see success sooner or later.
The Investing Monk said:
Credit card debt can spiral out of hand given the exorbitant interest rates the companies charge on the outstanding balances. It is advisable that you make every effort to reduce the interest rates on the debt and it can drastically reduce your debt repayment timeframe.
Ray from Squirrelers said:
Don’t take frugality too far. Frugality has its merits, and I’m a proponent! However, we need to know when to draw the line. Don’t spend excess time on pinching pennies, to the point where the return on your time invested is at minimum wage! Also, avoid the impulse to sacrifice healthy food for inexpensive unhealthy choices.
Kyle from Rather Be Shopping said:
Make Saving Automatic. By making your savings automatic you don’t miss the money, which in my opinion is the KEY reason why this works. If you have to spend time and energy transferring money every month there is a excellent chance you’re going to find an excuse not to do it.
Jefferson from See Debt Run said:
Anyone who is looking to get control of their finances needs to spend at least one month budgeting down in the weeds, tracking every single cent that they spend and every single cent that they make.
Derek from Free at 33 said:
It takes a fair amount of work to make a buck. So when you have earned some dough, you better be sure you are spending it wisely. After you have covered your essentials and saved a little too, the money left over is to be used for fun. Your goal should be to stretch this money as far as you can without decreasing your level of enjoyment. To make this choice clearer, try to measure purchases against each other as if they are competing for the right to be bought. It can also be useful to calculate how long it took to earn the money you are about to spend. That is why my best tip from 2012 is to value your spending.
Mandy from Money Master Mom said:
Be bad for the Economy. We drive old but reliable cars, we shop at thrift stores, and are careful that our spending matches our values. These savings let us splurge on things that are important to us, like Travel. I spend less then I ever have, but I’m happier then I’ve ever been.
Christopher from This That and the MBA said:
Set a budget and stick with it. Probably the easiest thing is setting the budget but where many fall short is sticking with the budget…oh we will spend a little here and get back on next month. Then that just spirals out of control and before you know it the year is gone and you are not much further ahead than you were the year before. So lately my motto has been manage your money before it manages you!
Bryan from Gajizmo said:
Read, research, and analyze! Saving, making, and investing money does not require a PhD. Some of the most successful individuals are everyday Americans who did not finish college, and simply worked hard and learned how to manage their money along the way. The key is to absorb as much information as you can about a topic, empower yourself and make informed decisions. The personal finance community can give you an adequate understanding of every financial problem you may be facing today, but it is up to you to ask the right questions, seek the best answers, and solve your money issues. Take initiative in your career and grow your income, maintain discipline in your saving and don’t overspend, and let 2013 be the year you become debt-free or start growing your wealth.
Mr. CBB from Canadian Budget Binder said:
My best financial tip is always to know your financial health and that starts with a budget. When you know your numbers it helps you to understand where you need to improve and why you are saving or going into debt the way you are. Budgets are what will help people stay on track and take the stress of not knowing where you stand and put you in the drivers seat. It’s not about how much money you make it’s how you save it.
Jeremy from Modest Money said:
In this age we are more vulnerable than ever to being pressured by the Joneses. To make real financial progress you need to learn to overcome that kind of jealousy. Live your life the way you want to and don’t worry about other people’s perceived success. It’s not worth sacrificing your future to indulge in luxuries today.
Veronica from Blue Pelican Loans said:
The best personal finance tip I could give you is to live within your means. But because this is a very obvious tip, I’d like to give you another: take care of your health. It may not seem like a personal finance tip, but your health has so much to do with your financial well being. If your body doesn’t feel great, your thoughts and actions will reflect that. Not to mention the money wasted on medical care, health products, unnecessary doctor visits and possible hospital stay. Health problems ensue lack of confidence and motivation that can keep us from getting a job, advance at our current careers or pursue a lifestyle that doesn’t end up in thousands of dollars in medical bills. A healthy mind needs a healthy body.
Eddie from Finance Fox said:
Without a budget, is like trying to walk in the dark, but with money.
David from Young Adult Money said:
Live below your means: spend less than you make. It’s the only sustainable lifestyle long-term. If there are more things you would like to do or have (a bigger house, a nicer car, a vacation to Europe), make sure your income can justify the purchase! If your income can’t justify the purchase, focus on increasing your income.
Kathleen from Frugal Portland said:
Try to save half of your after-tax income, and debt repayment counts as savings.
Michelle from Making Sense of Cents said:
Always make more money than you spend and always strive for the next raise as long as there is some sort of increase in happiness that is possible.
Greg and Holly from Club Thrifty said:
Everything begins with tracking your spending. Write it down. You can’t begin to control your finances until you know exactly where your money is going.
Catherine from Plunged In Debt said:
Remain completely honest with yourself about how your money will be spent when working out a budget. When we did our first budget we were strapping ourselves way too thin basically cutting out every ounce of fun from our lives. This didn’t work for long, yes we’re in debt and that is our primary financial focus, but the fact remains that we’re human and crave entertainment and fun. It doesn’t have to be much but if you don’t allocate any money to be spent on fun (occasional dinner out, movie, whatever) you’ll quickly start resenting your budget and debt repayment strategies. We don’t have much, maybe like 20 bucks a week but it’s enough for us!
Kim from Eyes on the Dollar said:
Stop Being Afraid. Fear can keep you in debt, make you stay in a job you hate, or keep you in a cycle of poor behavior. Facing that fear and making a plan will change your life.
Sicorra from Tackling Our Debt said:
Define\write down your priorities and organize your financial life based on your priorities. For example your priorities may be your spouse and your children. And that you want to make sure that they are always safe, happy, well educated and healthy. Then find ways and figure out how to organize your finances so that you have enough money to look after your priorities now and well into the future. This includes more than ensuring your current income is covering your current needs. It includes things such as proper health insurance, a good life insurance package, money saved for education, money saved for retirement, money saved for a rainy day, and so on.
Jason from Work Save Live said:
Be Willing to be Different! In our “look at me” world, it’s never been more important to be different. Succeeding with finances takes discipline and sacrifice and that’s impossible if you’re consistently trying to fit in and worrying about the Joneses.
John from Frugal Rules said:
Don’t let your finances control you, you should be controlling your finances. Sit down and determine where your money is going and be able to justify why it’s going to the places it is. Look beyond tomorrow and think about where you want to be in 10 years or more. Make your money work for you and maximize it’s potential. That, along with willful discipline, will allow you to achieve success in your financial matters.
Justin from The Frugal Path said:
Have a stockpile for when there are really good deals on non-perishable items. Personal hygiene items, canned foods and cleaning products can last for months or years on a shelf. However, don’t mistake a stockpile for hoarding. Only buy what you need in amounts that make sense for you.
Actions Today To Make Money Tomorrow. What are you doing today to make money tomorrow? You can bin your time that you spend today into 3 horizons: today’s horizon, tomorrow’s horizon, and the far future’s horizon. Most people only make money for today by going to work and bringing home a paycheck. Tomorrow’s returns might mean getting an education to increase tomorrow’s paycheck or buying an income property. Finally it is important to plan for the far future’s return which usually means retirement or financial independence.
Glen from Monster Piggy Bank said:
Set goals for yourself when you are trying to save money. Often things like repaying debt or saving for retirement can be daunting, that’s why I like to break up the big end goal into smaller more manageable pieces I personally set myself SMART goals and I would recommend to others that they do the same thing. Setting, documenting and sticking to goals is a great way to keep yourself on target when trying to save money. Be sure to review completed goals and create new goals to keep yourself motivated. It is amazing how motivated you can feel by seeing how far you have come and how many goals you have completed. Finally, if you can find a friend who is also interested in sharing your money saving goals with you, then you will be far more likely to stick with it than if you go it alone.
Jon from Pay My Student Loans said:
Live “Poorer” Than You Are. When students graduate from college, or someone gets a raise they quickly begin “lifestyle inflation” where although they are making more money it is all going to pay their more expensive lifestyle. The Solution – Live “poorer” than you are by not allowing your lifestyle inflation to outpace your earnings increases. The easiest way to do this is when you graduate college live like a student for a year and then slowly let lifestyle inflation creep in.
Jana from Daily Money Shot said:
Make finances a family affair. Be open with your significant other about your budget and expenses and yes, debts. When creating a budget or paying bills, don’t hide it from your kids if you have them; include them in an age appropriate manner. When families work together, managing money is significantly easier.
Pauline from Reach Financial Independence said:
Be content. Be happy with what you have, realize that you don’t need much to live a rich life, and you will easily find yourself living below your means. Do you need a 3000 square foot house? Designer clothes, tech gadgets, a new car every couple of years? Realize how lucky you are to have a roof over your head and three meals a day, then define what else is essential to you and skip the rest. I have always lived below my means because having to pay for months to acquire a new shiny object was not important to me. I upgraded my lifestyle slowly from my student life, adding more comfort to my home and a lot more travel to my routine, but never felt the need to possess more and buy on credit. My only debt was taken for purchasing real estate and other investments. Now I have paid cash for a simple house that is just big enough for two, and that I am fixing myself. I am happy that it is mine, but could live with something smaller and cheaper if I couldn’t afford it. By being grateful for what you have, you should realize that your level of happiness will not grow the more you buy, on the contrary.
Brian from The Outlier Model said:
It can be very tempting to buy nicer, newer things when you get a raise, a promotion or new job. By focusing on avoiding lifestyle inflation and putting the extra money toward debts and savings goals, you can put yourself in a much better financial position.
Taylor from Repaid.org said:
Track every expense manually for at least three consecutive months. This is a truly, truly enlightening practice, as most of us remember fewer than 75% of our purchases. You will be so surprised to see where your money is actually being spent. After the 3-month period, you can take things a step further by categorizing each expense, and analyzing your financial outlay by percentage of income. This is a fantastic way to “trim the fat” from your monthly expenses, and you’ll be surprised how few sacrifices you’ll really be making. Most people can save a significant amount per month simply by eliminating waste – money which can go into paying down debt or saving for retirement. My wife and I have save literally hundreds of dollar per month by doing this.
I want to thank everyone that participated in this personal finance tip roundup. I could not have done it without you. You provided great tips that will be of service to anyone looking to clean up their finances and take control of their financial future. I hope everyone has a great start to 2013!
Main Photo via Vectorportal