Personal Finance Tips That Will Change the Way You Think About Money
This is a guest post from our friends at LearnVest, a leading personal finance website. We’ve certainly amassed a wealth of knowledge over the years covering the money beat, from the dozens of “I got out of debt” success stories we’ve featured to the scores of psychological studies we’ve covered linking better financial decision-making to behavior change.
Given that it’s Financial Literacy Month, we’ve decided that there’s no better time than now to compile our 50 best money tips into one juicy, super-helpful read. From the best ways to budget to how to increase your earning potential like a pro, these nuggets of financial wisdom are as current as the day they were published. First and foremost, a few financial fundamentals
1. Make a financial calendar
If you don’t trust yourself to remember to pay your quarterly taxes or pull your credit report on a regular basis, consider scheduling these important financial tasks in the same way you would an annual doctor’s visit or car tune-up. A good place to start? Our ultimate financial calendar.
2. Verify Your Interest Rate
Q: Which loan should you pay off first? A: The one with the highest interest rate. Q: Which savings account should you open? A: The one with the lowest interest rate. Q: Why does credit card debt give us such a headache? A: It’s the compound interest rate’s fault. Bottom line: Paying attention to interest rates can help you decide which debt or savings commitments to prioritize.
3. Keep Track of Your Net Worth
personal finance Your net worth—the difference between your assets and debt—is the big picture number that can tell you where you stand financially. Keep an eye on it, and it can help you stay on track with your financial goals—or warn you if you’re slipping. How to Budget Like a Pro
4. Create a Budget, Period
This is the starting point for all other goals in your life. Here’s a checklist for creating a killer personal budget.
5. Consider an all-cash diet
If you have a habit of overspending, this will get you out of it. Don’t believe us? These three people’s lives were altered by the cash diet. And when this woman went all cash, she realized it wasn’t as scary as she thought. Really.
6. Take a Daily Money Minute
This one comes from LearnVest Founder and CEO Alexa von Tobel, who swears by setting aside one minute each day to check on her financial transactions. This 60-second act assists in identifying problems immediately, tracking goal progress, and setting the spending tone for the rest of the day!
7. Allocate at least 20% of your income to financial priorities
Priorities include emergency savings, debt repayment, and increasing your retirement savings. Seems like a large percentage? Here’s why we like this number.
8. Set aside about 30% of your income for discretionary spending
This includes movies, restaurants, and happy hours—basically, anything that does not cover basic necessities. You can save and splurge by following the 30 percent rule. How to Get Money Motivated
9. Create a Financial Vision Board
You need the motivation to begin developing better money habits, and creating a vision board can help remind you to stay on track with your financial goals.
10. Establish Specific Financial Goals
Use numbers and dates, not just words, to describe your financial goals. How much debt do you want to pay off, and when do you want to pay it off? How much do you want to save and by when?
11. Create a Spending Mantra
Choose a positive phrase that serves as a mini rule of thumb for how you spend. For example, ask yourself, “Is this [fill in the blank] better than Bali next year?” or “I only charge items that are $30 or more.”
12. Accept Yourself
Sure, it sounds corny, but it works. Just ask this author, who paid off $20,000 in debt after realizing that taking control of her finances was a way to value herself.
13. Set small financial goals for yourself
According to one study, the farther away a goal appears and the less certain we are about when it will occur, the more likely we are to give up. So, in addition to focusing on big goals (such as purchasing a home), aim to set smaller, short-term goals along the way that will yield faster results, such as saving some money each week in order to take a trip in six months.
14. Eliminate Toxic Money Thoughts
Hello, self-fulfilling prophecy! If you psych yourself out before you even begin (“I’ll never pay off my debt!”), you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t be a fatalist; instead, adopt more positive mantras.
15. Get Your Finances—and Your Body—in Shape
According to one study, more exercise leads to higher pay because you are more productive after you’ve worked up a sweat. So taking up running could help you up your financial game. Furthermore, all of the habits and discipline associated with, say, marathon running are also associated with good money management.
Learn to Savor
Savoring means appreciating what you have now rather than trying to be happy by acquiring more things.