Another year down and a new one on the horizon. As with any year ending, we like to compile a wealth of information for you (our readers) in order to make your financial life a little easier in the new year. You see, I believe knowledge is power and you can do anything if you just set your mind to it. This translates into sound money management as well.
It wasn’t long ago where I was staring at a $75,000 mountain of debt created by my foolish spending and lack of financial prowess. Luckily for me, I met good people, read a ton of information about money, and I started this blog to show others what I learned. In a few short years, I paid it all off, turned my finances around, increased my net worth, saved a ton, and eventually earned enough to quit my job and support my family on my income alone.
This was all possible because I took the initiative to find information about better money management, I absorb it all, and then I put it into action. You see, that last part is very important. You have to not only soak up the information, but then turn it into action. Without the action, the knowledge is useless.
Today, I’m sharing some awesome personal finance tips for anyone who wants to read them. They aren’t from me (well, one is), but they are from some of my best friends in the personal finance space. Many of these are bloggers, CPAs, investors, entrepreneurs, money coaches, and more. They focus their time and energy helping others with money just like myself. They are good people and that’s why I brought their knowledge here as I do every year.
HOW DO YOU TRACK YOUR MONEY?
One of my biggest mistakes while I was racking up debt was not tracking my spending. I had no idea where my money was going or how much I owed in overall debt. I was flying blind and that's what caused me to crash and burn. It wasn't until I found tools like Mint.com and Personal Capital that I got on track. The best part is they are both free. My favorite is Personal Capital (here's why), but check them both out to see what works best for you.
So, let’s get started! Below is a quick navigation section for these awesome personal finance tips. If you’re not interested in one section, just skip it and move to another. The “Other” category is a catch all that really has some gems in it. It just doesn’t fit under the other categories, so I used “other” as a way to bring it all together. I probably should come up with another name, but that’s what it is!
Before we get to the other tips, I’m going to share mine below.
Never get lost in the idea that you "don't have options" in how you manage your money or your life. We all have options, but sometimes it takes a little more time to dig them all out and figure out which path is the best. Opportunities are all around us, but it's how you manage your time and build your knowledge which dictates what you'll be able to do with those opportunities.
I hope you enjoy these excellent personal finance tips to help you start a new year off on the right foot. There are too many days to waste just thinking about what you should do. Think about what you can do now and take action!
No matter if you’re planning on borrowing money or have credit cards in your wallet, credit is a part of most of our lives. If you’re good with money, borrowing on credit can do wonders for your overall net worth. People with excellent credit scores can borrow money at a lower rate than they can return with investments. Basically, you’re borrowing to make money and then you pay it back.
People have been doing this for years and years to advance their businesses and their personal assets. The big problem is when you borrow more than you can afford and you can’t pay it back.
When you look at credit, it’s not just a number or a card. Credit shows others how you manage your money in a big picture. It’s more important than you might think and that’s why it’s important to manage your credit well.
Plan ahead when it comes to borrowing money and give yourself a few months to improve your credit score if possible. Improving your score just 30 points can mean saving 7% on your rate and hundreds a year in interest. Pay down high-interest credit cards and other revolving debt first because it affects your score the most. If you are already behind on payments, negotiate with creditors to pay off the debt if they will remove the missed payment note from your credit report.
I believe in using credit cards as a tool, not just as a way to track your spending all in one place, but also to benefit from the perks and rewards available. You could go with a cashback card and receive a percentage of your purchases, plus purchase protection and extended warranty, or go with a travel credit card and get free flights, lounge visits, and great travel and medical insurance. Of course, you have to be disciplined in your use of credit cards. Make sure that, not only can you pay the card off in full each month, but that the rewards don’t entice you to spend more.
Do you have a favorite quote about credit/credit cards? If you do, share them in the comments at the end of the article. I’d love to hear them and would’t mind sharing them too with others.
Debt was a part of my world for too long. It took a strangle hold of my finances and what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until I broke those chains that I found out what I could accomplish. There are are many forms of debt, but the majority of people have consumer debt with credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, and student loan debt. There is also a steep rise in medical debt.
No matter the form, it’s so important to focus on paying it all off, so you can advance your net worth, and be free from have to work for money instead of it working for you. This aspect changed my life where I can now use money to make money and I’m not afraid of debt any longer. I’m in full control of my finances and it’s an awesome experience.
Hopefully these quotes will help you get a hold of any debts you owe. This is the time to start tackling it. Make sure to take a look at our fight debt page for more info.
My best tip for when paying off debt is to find ways to make more money. Everyone has extra time in the day and, trust me, you do too! The average person watches over 30 hours of TV a week and wastes time in several other ways. If you are able to find the areas in which you are wasting time, you may be able to use your time more wisely by making extra money so that you can pay off your debt as soon as possible!
Too many don’t invest because they don’t care or don’t understand how it works. I used to be one of them. I’ve seen the error in my ways and realize that investing needs to be a part of a sound wealth strategy. You can’t and won’t grow your money without some form of investing. I choose the markets (stocks and bonds), while others like to invest in businesses and real estate. Whatever your cup of tea, just make sure your doing something.
Don’t let investing scare you. It’s really not that hard and there are many services out there now which make it much easier. Places like Vanguard, Betterment, Wealthfront, and TradeKing are who I use to grow my wealth and invest.
You shouldn’t buy a home without a plan. Period. Beyond coming up with a plan, it’s also important to note why you’re buying in the first place. If you’re considering a home purchase to appear successful, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you’re shopping for a home because you feel like it’s a natural next step, you’re making a mistake. It’s also important to look at the pros and cons of renting and buying for what they really are – not what you wish they were.
Win the stock market game by playing like an amateur! Don't try to be a professional stock-picker, trading in and out of investments. Avoid losing money by holding a broad group of stocks in different sectors and keeping your investing fees low by not selling your investments. Get all the free money you can by maxing out your company match and retirement contributions.
DON'T LIKE INVESTING? TRY THESE...
Remember to re-balance your investment portfolio because over the course of a year your allocations can easily change as different sectors perform better or worse than others. You could start with one mix and be wildly out of sync by the end of the year. This is especially true as you near retirement, when you should be shifting away from riskier investments (which may have performed well) towards less volatile ones.
When it comes to change, embrace it. Don't run away. The key is to be prepared. Put time into your education. Experience will make you stronger and wiser.
Don't get caught up in thinking investing is complicated. It is simple and boring. Find a couple low cost ETFs or mutual funds and add money to them on a regular basis. You don't need to research stocks all weekend. Keep it simple and learn to look at the long term and you will be successful.
I have to be honest here, but I love making money. Who doesn’t? I haven’t met anyone yet, but they might be out there hiding. Learning how to make extra money on the side of my full-time job was what propelled my debt payoff. It taught me about my drive, my passion, and my willpower to stick through the thick and thin. It also helped me save more for retirement and emergencies.
There are so many ways to earn extra money, it’s borderline ridiculous now. How many of you would think you can earn money by eating on video? Well, you can and people do it. If you have an idea, think of the possibilities. I never thought I would be able to make money in my own business with just a blog, but now I’m self-employed and supporting my family with income from this blog and my WordPress business.
These quotes will hopefully get you in the mood to earn more. Think of what you like to do and use your free time to come up with a plan. Trust me, it’s relaxing to just watch TV, but think of how much money you could earn? Well, here’s an idea on that…
Here are some awesome articles about earning more, so take your time and soak up the knowledge dropped below!
Focus on growing your career. By implementing a few simple steps (over-performing, being likable, etc.), you can lay the ground work to make significantly more money over the rest of your working lifetime.
If you are looking for a way to make extra money, start with what you enjoy doing can because it lead to amazing things. What do you love to do that you just can’t help yourself from doing it because you love it so much? For me, it was my blog. I took a hobby, learned some skills and used those skills to get a six -figure job AND earn more money from my blog. The reason I’m telling you all of this is because you can do it to; chase what excites you and see where you end up.
Read this for more info...
Start a side hustle ASAP! Having a side hustle is like having a security blanket. You never know what could happen to your main source of income, but a side hustle can help provide peace of mind. Starting a side hustle also helped us pay off our mortgage early.
When it comes to finances, most people assume their financial success hinges on the money they earn at their 9-5 job. Don't forget to think beyond your regular work to find new and interesting ways to make money. The "extra" money you earn each year might mean the difference between standing still and getting ahead.
Did you like any of the making money quotes above? Anyone really inspire you to earn and think outside of the box?
If not, what’s stopping you? What excuse do you have? (by the way, I’m going to say none because excuses are a waste of time)
Do you have an actionable money making tip that you can share? Do it in the comments at the bottom.
Are you like me where you try to keep up with the Joneses? Yea, I used to be that person too and that lifestyle almost bankrupted me and my family. Stop it!
This section is included as a catch-all since money doesn’t just revolve around debt, credit, investing, retirement, making it, and saving it. Money is very personal for everyone and you have to remember that. What works for me or someone else, might not work for you. Take this advice and try to tweak it to meet your needs. That’s what is the most important tip of all.
Make sure what you "want" to do with your money today is getting you closer to your long-term goals. Giving in to your immediate urges can push you further away from the life you want to live.
Write down three of your life values. These can be family, work, travel, independence- anything that means a lot to you. Then look at your spending habits and see if they align with what you say you value. If they don't, it's time to make adjustments. You will be happier with your financial life if your values align with what you spend your money on.
Start talking more about your financial life with your spouse, children, and close friends.
One of the things that’s been sticking with me over the past several months is this idea that although it’s one of our last taboos, when we talk about money, and share our experiences (good or bad), it creates real change in us and in others.
There’s power in the story.
Flip your budget upside down. Instead of divvying up what you earn, work out your core expenses and budget around those instead. Make sure the amount required for you to live a great life is less than your income, then try to remain close to the same figure through pay raises and bonuses. Budgeting this way will help you stave off lifestyle inflation and ensure you are always living within your means.
I made a lot of mistakes when it came to my retirement savings. When I first jumped into the working world after college, I didn’t focus on saving money. I just spent it. A lot of it! I was living the dream (or so I thought) and just wanted to consume. Saving money for retirement wasn’t a priority and I kick myself for that decision to this day.
You see, saving for retirement is crucial in this day and age. We don’t have pensions to fall back on like many of our parents and the baby boomer generation. Pensions are going away quickly and being replaced by 401(k)s. These are accounts which you need to fund, but many people still don’t do it. I left a lot of money on the table when I didn’t take my employer match and it was stupid.
There are many things you can do to save for retirement, but just starting a retirement savings account is the first step!
Don't let debt stop you for saving for your retirement. Even $10 a week is better than nothing.
Don't retire until you understand your numbers. Once you walk away from that income, it'll be hard to replace it at the level you're earning today.
If you are not taking advantage of employer contributions, why not? Whether it's 401ks in the US, or Group RRSPs and pensions in Canada, it’s the easiest way to save for retirement. In voluntary plans, I find it amazing that about 20% of employees do not take advantage of FREE MONEY from the employer. Having money come off your paycheque is the easiest, least painful way to save. You won’t even notice the money coming off your paycheques after a short period of time.
I get a little excited when I talk about saving money. Why? It’s just too easy to do and yet so many people just don’t think they can. The thing is, there is usually always something to trim from a monthly budget, more money to save here or there. I know, I used to be in a position where I thought I couldn’t save a dime, actually, not even a penny. My budget was maxed and all the things we were paying for were necessities. At least, that’s what we thought.
It wasn’t until we focused on our true needs versus just our wants. That’s a very important distinction that can change your money mindset for the better. Until you know what you really need to spend money on (food, shelter, clothing), then all the rest get placed into wants.
For example, I need a car to get to work (OK, not anymore since I work from home), but I want a BMW. The BMW is not a necessity, but a car might be. I used to say that since I needed a car, why not get a really nice one? That’s the same mindset many take, but there are many other solutions out there (um…buy used!) that could suffice and really save you a ton of money.
Just remember, not everything is a necessity in life. We just tend to rationalize our spending in that manner.
A high savings rate will get you to financial independence faster than you think-- in many cases less than 20 years!
Take the first step to gaining control of your finances by automating your savings. Every year I see people start a savings challenge but fail to follow through. But if you automate it, your efforts will be successful!
THINKING ABOUT SAVINGS AUTOMATION?
One of the best tips above talks about automation. One of the best tools to do that (I love and use it) is Digit. It's free and it will analyze and automate your savings without you having to do it. Best part is it finds money to save that you don't think is even there!
Having a spending freeze is a super easy way to start a new budget. We tell everyone we're doing it and ask if they want to join in and make no purchases for two weeks (bills still get paid). We eat out of freezer and pantry and usually save several hundred dollars. Plus, friends often join us and we find SO many ways to have fun that don't involve spending money!
Get real with your money! Go over every area of your budget with a fine tooth comb, compare services to make sure you are getting the best deal, change whatever you need to and pocket those savings!
Studies have show we are literally wasting thousands by not switching. If a few hours of comparing services and fixing your budget resulted in $5k or more, it's worth the time, don't you think?
My emergency fund saved me this year when I was unexpectedly laid off. Having over six months of expenses gave me the courage to transform a sudden job loss into something I've dreamt about for years—self-employment. However, it's also critical to know exactly how much you need to survive by calculating your bare-bones budget. From there, you can explore ways to stretch your emergency fund for as long as you need.
If you're a student, always check if there is a student discount before purchasing an item. I've found student discounts for everything - including my Machu Picchu hike, laptop, oil change, and pretty much any restaurant!
The rule of thirds. To prevent lifestyle inflation and balance enjoying your money today while you save for the future. For every raise you get in life save 1/3rd, spend 1/3rd, and a third will go to tax. Live this way and you will become financially and emotionally healthy.
When it comes to personal finances, treat yourself, don’t cheat yourself. Many people have good intentions to cut debt, boost savings, and execute on their financial plans, but do not get the execution part correct. Being better financially is about making better choices daily, weekly, and monthly until you reach an expected financial outcome. If you cut out all the things you enjoy to save money it eventually makes it harder to stay on your plan.
Know this, you can make financially responsible decisions and still enjoy life.
We all know that saving money can be difficult, especially when spending it is so easy and more fun. To help handle those temptations, makes sure you set both short term and long term saving goals. Keep those goals visible--write them down and post them where you can see them every day. And yes, don't forget to reward yourself for your progress and achievements.
Continuing to hold employer stock options past the vesting date is an active decision. A decision to own company stock as opposed to cashing out. One potential outcome of this strategy is an overly concentrated portfolio.
If you have restricted stock, stock options, or an employee stock purchase plan, consider developing a strategy that coordinates your risk tolerance and your financial plan.
Calculate and track your Net Worth. This one simple metric serves as a great barometer of your overall progress, since it accounts for all of your spending and saving decisions; it's the ultimate measure of the success of your strategies. NW = Assets - Liabilities. Keep it simple by only including large, liquid assets (i.e., ignore the value of your clothing and other household items).
DO YOU WANT TO TRACK YOUR NET WORTH?
Taking the time to track your net worth can be cumbersome and a little boring. That's why I use and recommend Personal Capital. It's a free tool that will pull in all your accounts and tell you how you're doing. It's one of the tools that helped me pay off $75,000 of debt!
So tell me, what was your favorite piece of advice here? Anything in particular?
Better yet, what are you trying to achieve financially this year? Do you want to save more, make more, pay off debt, or invest more? Heck, do you want to do all of them? You’re not alone.
These quotes from the amazing personal finance community has lite a fire under my financial rear to work harder to make more money, sock more away for retirement, and even start paying down our mortgage faster. It really hasn’t been a goal of mine, but now I have some liquidity to play with and being mortgage free would be awesome. I would love to have an extra $1000 back in my pocket every month. That could do well in my investments.
No matter what you plan on doing this year, just make a plan, figure out some ways to achieve it, and then track your progress. That’s the only way to succeed and I hope these actionable tips from others will do just that for you. I know they have for me and I’m excited about kicking financial butt in the new year!
Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Even if you don’t plan on getting a loan, a good credit score can affect your ability to get a job, a place to live, and will save you money whenever you need to borrow. If you don’t know your credit score, you can get yours free at Credit Sesame. It’s 100% free with no credit card required to signup. I’ve been using it for years to monitor my credit score.