Well, 2013 is coming to an end. It has been a great year here at Debt Roundup. I am happy to see how this blog has grown tremendously over the last 12 months and I am excited to see here it goes in the next 12. Last year, I decided to start a “Best Personal Finance Tips of 2012” post. It has become one of the most popular posts on this blog. The reason it was so good is that it had a lot of great information from many great personal finance bloggers and Debt Roundup readers. Since the 2012 post was so popular, I decided to make this an annual thing. So, without further ado, here are the best personal finance tips of 2013!
Before you read all of the great tips in this post, I wanted to share mine. My tip last year was about keeping your emotions in check. This year, my tip is going to be different. My best personal finance tip this year is to not be scared of credit cards. I talked about credit cards not being the problem, but just a tool in your financial toolbox. I was in over $50,000 worth of credit card debt and I am not scared to use my credit card again. I use it for every purchase. Why? It makes it easier for me to budget, I get nice rewards, and I like the security compared to my debit card. Remember, credit cards don’t put you into debt, it is how you spend with the card. If you want to use good credit cards for your purchases, then check out my credit card reviews. Hopefully you can find one that will give you rewards you can use.
If you know someone with good credit, becoming an authorized user on their account can raise your credit score. You do not need to know information about the account or have access to the card for this to work. It’s also a great way for parents to help their children establish credit.
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Taz Bright of Bright Balance Ministries said:
Create a credit with all your creditors: If you have credit cards, a vehicle loan, business loan etc. you should make a point to not only pay on time but actually pay ahead. For example, instead of having a zero balance on your credit card, it would be better to have a balance of -$50. If you rent an apartment pay ahead a few months so that when hard times hit you are able to skip a few rent payments in order to deal with the tough situation.
If you are not paying down debt, you are not “saving money” no matter how much you wish to sugar coat it. Saving starts after your debt is zeroed.
Laurie from The Frugal Farmer said:
Don’t ever think you’re in too deep to get out. There’s always a plan that will work for you, if you’re willing to do the work to find that plan. Assess your situation, customize your debt payoff plan to fit your situation, and then commit to sticking the course, no matter how long it might take.
My best financial advice to those who are in debt is to do whatever you can to pay more than the minimum monthly payment. If you don’t, you may literally be paying for the rest of your life. Crunch the numbers and see for yourself. You will be motivated to make whatever changes are necessary to pay more than the minimum. You can do it!
Michael from The Student Loan Sherpa said:
Don’t just plan for just one week, one month, or even one year. When you make financial decisions, make choices that make sense in the long term. Making interest only payments might be the easiest thing to do right now, but it is just delaying an inevitable financial problem. If you don’t have a realistic plan for your finances to improve, they never will.
Debt Repayment is a long journey so celebrate your debt milestones and don’t deprive yourself to extremes in order to avoid debt fatigue.
Ray from Squirrelers said:
When shopping, only buy something if you can pay for it in cash at the time of purchase. Alternatively, if you can charge it on your credit card and pay that off in full by the due date, that’s okay too. Otherwise, don’t buy it. The only exceptions are a reasonable mortgage payment and student loan debt you’re trying to eliminate as quickly as possible.
My tips for getting out of debt of straight forward, you need to KISS them (keep it simple stupid) Live within your means, have a plan in a form of a budget, priority needs over wants, realize it’s okay to say “no” and involve the whole family in the discussion.
Raquel from Practical Cents said:
The action that helped me the most was to track my spending. I use a credit card for almost all my purchases and it made it easier to keep track of where the money was going and where I needed to make adjustments. I pay the entire balance when the bill rolls in so I was not accruing more debt.
Keep investing, especially in down markets. Anyone who invested pre-2013 is sitting pretty today!
William Kohlmann of Bills Treasury Note said:
Invest in companies that have been around forever and will be around forever (Exxon, Merck, Amex, etc.), reinvest their dividends, and be very patient.
Rescue your money from the a virtually-no-interest checking/savings account and put it in the market with no transaction fees and competitive returns. With The Betterment Experiment we’re showing how shamefully easy it is to get competitive market returns while being able to set the risk to a level you’re actually comfortable with.
Brad of Richmond Savers said:
It’s incredibly important over the long-term to keep your expenses to a minimum when investing in mutual funds. The difference between a low-cost Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund with a 0.05% expense ratio and another mutual fund with a 1% expense ratio is enormous when compounded over a 30-40 year period. It doesn’t sound like much, but you can easily lose a huge percentage of your investment balance over a lifetime to these fees.
Automate everything – automate your savings by have it deducted from your paycheck. Automate your 401k contributions. Automate your IRA contributions. Automate your billpay. Once you’re automated, you’ll save time and never miss anything again!
Barbara Friedberg of Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance said:
Set your investing asset allocation. Automate contributions. Use diversified index funds. Don’t look at the statements!
Making Money Tips
Going on a trip or having a hard time selling your home? Rent out your apartment, spare bedroom, coach house, or motor home on sites like airbnb.com! Vacationers will pay big bucks (and a security deposit) to crash in your home for a couple days.
Jeremy of Modest Money said:
The thing that really turned around my finances was something my first post-college boss told me – “Jeremy to get ahead in this world, you’ve got to do something else on the side”. This really hit home to me. Regardless of your skill set, there is bound to be some kind of side income that you can build up in your free time. Your first attempt might not work out too well, but keep at it and you’ll end up finding a solid side hustle to boost your income.
You only have so much room in your brain….focus on the BIG changes in 2014. If you waste your time counting pennies, you might save a few bucks. If you concentrate on saving or earning hundreds more, you’ll see huge results.
Ree Klein of Escaping Dodge said:
We all wish for a comfortable life but so few of us make a plan to ensure we have one. Once you have the basics covered it’s time to set up a 10-year plan and then track your progress. If you set a goal but never measure your progress, what you really have is just a wish. Don’t rely on wishes to finance your future!
Start with the end in mind when you plan for retirement (don’t get bogged down with details like which online broker is best). Imagine how you want retirement to look, estimate out how much it’ll cost, and then figure out how to make it a reality. Once you know where you’re going it’ll be easier to get there.
Paul of The Frugal Toad said:
Take advantage of a Health Savings Account(HSA) along with other traditional retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k. The HSA, available to those with high-deductible health plans, allows you to defer taxes on your contributions as well as being able to roll-over any unused funds for future use. One of the best kept secrets of the HSA is that once the taxpayer reaches age 65, funds in the HSA can be used for everyday expenses without penalty!
Saving Money Tips
Having an emergency fund is must! Try to save up enough money for the “what ifs” of life and put them in a safe, easy to get to place. Hope for this best but prepare for the worst. Having a solid emergency fund is having the peace of mind that you and your family are “covered” in the worst case scenario.
Andrew of Living Rich Cheaply said:
The best personal finance tip is to change your money mindset. Sure budgeting, cutting expenses, saving and investing are important, but if you don’t embrace a frugal yet rich lifestyle, you won’t be successful. Changing your money mindset doesn’t necessarily mean deprivation or sacrifice, though there may be some of that. It just means being happy and grateful for the truly important things in life, which don’t necessarily have to be expensive.
To curb your spending, leave your wallet at home. Bring your driver’s license and ID, but nothing else – if you don’t have money you can’t spend it.
Paula of Monroe on a Budget said:
The biggest pieces of a household budget – which include housing, cars and debt – are difficult to change on short notice. Because of that, it is best to keep recurring expenses to a minimum, keep debt to a minimum, buy a smaller house than you think you can afford, and be practical with vehicle purchases. These long-range decisions will give you as much flexibility as possible to handle unexpected income drops or sudden expenses.
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Serious about saving? Always pay into your savings as soon as your paycheck comes in! Set yourself a target for monthly expenditure based on your average historic monthly costs. Leave only that amount in your current account and you’ll be forced to keep to that budget! You’ll thank yourself when you see your savings rocket! Don’t forget to budget for any upcoming events that month Christmas, birthdays etc. Good luck out there!
Kali of Common Sense Millennial said:
Start saving NOW. The earlier you start, the easier you’ll be able to build wealth because you have time on your side. That being said, it’s never too late to start, either – you can find financial success with a late start, just expect to work a little harder.
Consider buying pre-owned “low mileage” clothing, at your local thrift shop. I bought my last 5 dress casual outfits for work from my local good will, I purchased 3 pairs of pants, and 5 dress shirts, my receipt……$32.50. The brands included Dockers, American Eagle, and Abercrombie all in like new condition. You don’t have to announce where you went shopping, and you can still wear the brands you want for a fraction of the cost. Just be sure to donate your unused clothing to your local thrift shops.
Erin of Broke Millennial said:
Be your own handyman by learning how to do basic maintenance around your home instead of just throwing money at the problem when something breaks. And don’t use Drano, seriously.
The advice to “live like a college student” is commonly given to fresh graduates to guide them in avoiding lifestyle inflation. Maybe that was good advice a few decades ago, but in recent years colleges have been including all sorts of amenities and perks with their tuition and/or room and board. I know I had to decrease my lifestyle in many ways post-college (and will have to post-grad school) to meet the realities of my first-job salary, and current college and grad students should mentally prepare themselves for that probability.
Kay of Green Money Stream said:
Find smart, creative ways to simplify and reduce your monthly expenses. Sometimes we just become so caught up in our lives that we don’t take the time to assess our current spending level. Maybe you can start cutting your kids’ hair or maybe you don’t need the platinum cable package. Make it a goal this month to find at least one area where you can reduce expenses. You’ll probably be surprised at how much money you can save.
Cancel Your Cable This Year and save $250 a month!
Instead of cable, get Free TV, Just Like It Used To Be! Buy a $30 digital antenna (similar to the bunny ears antennas) and get 6-10 FREE channels of TV including local news, weathers, and major channels (CBS, ABC, NBC).
Save $1000s of dollars this year and enjoy watching TV for free.
Building Wealth Tips
Dee of Color Me Frugal said:
My personal best financial tip is to always always always live well below your means! Also, I can’t take credit for this because I read it somewhere, but the best financial tip I ever heard is this: pick an age at which you had enough to get by (25, 30, whatever) and keep your standard of living at the level that you lived at then. Most raises come in your 30s, 40s, whatever, but if you keep living like you lived when you were 30 (or whatever age you pick) you will find yourself saving and investing more and more as you get older (and thus prevent lifestyle inflation).
Read up on the phenomenon called “hedonic adaptation.” Then read Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Then read the book “Your Money or Your Life.” Then change your life!
Mike Craig of Mike 1040 said:
A great tip is a simple one. Talk to your spouse. That’s right, get on the same page with the most important person in your life. All good things will flow from there. Yes, even good financial things!
My tip is to keep it real. Set reasonable goals and expect to get there slowly. You can’t cut your budget by 70% or save half of every paycheck without making some progressive habit changes. If you try and go too fast, you’ll probably be back where you started, patience is key.
Joe Udo of Retire by 40 said:
The bottom line is to spend less than you earn and invest the rest. If you can do this on a consistent basis, eventually you’ll be able to build up a sizable sum. Of course, earning more would be helpful too.
Other Personal Finance Tips
My tip is more of an encouragement – if you see the need to change/improve/work on something, then the time to do so is now. Whether you’re paying off debt or saving for retirement you need to take it seriously and continuously pushing it back will only make the situation worse. With that in mind, start now, even if on a small level, start now and that’ll help build momentum that will help you in the long run.
Matt Becker of Mom and Dad Money said:
Keep thing simple and automate as much as possible. Long term progress comes from repeating positive behaviors over and over again. Complexity and manual labor make that repetition more difficult. The goal should be effortless progress.
Developing good financial habits is the most important thing you can do for you and your family. Good habits are more important than your salary and more important than your net worth. If you can learn how to budget, invest wisely, save, and resist materialism, you will by default have an ample savings account and a much brighter financial future.
Jake Fuentes of Level Money said:
Know your Three Numbers—There are only three important numbers to keep track of each month:How much you make; if you have fluctuating or inconsistent income, find the average. How much of your income you can spend each month; based on your regular income this is the total cash available after you pay bills and set aside savings, How much you’ve spent so far: Use a tool, such as Level Money, to track in real time up how much you’ve spent so far. This way, you know what you’re left with on a daily basis to reach your goals.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. I think the people that sent them over had some good ideas. Hopefully you can use some of these as you come up with a financial game plan for 2014. Good luck with all of your future endeavors and I hope you have a prosperous 2014!