50 Tips for Living Your Best Money Life

Alden Wicker
Posted

best money tips learnvestWe’ve certainly amassed a wealth of knowledge over the years covering the money beat—be it 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.

So given that it’s Financial Literacy Month, we’ve decided that there is no better time than now to round up our 50 top money tips into one juicy, super-helpful read. From the best ways to budget to how to boost your earning potential like a pro, these nuggets of financial wisdom are as fresh as the day they were published.

First Things First: A Few Financial Basics

1. Create a financial calendar. If you don’t trust yourself to remember to pay your quarterly taxes or periodically pull a credit report, think about setting appointment reminders for these important money to-dos in the same way that you would an annual doctor’s visit or car tune-up. A good place to start? Our ultimate financial calendar.

2. Check 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 best interest rate. Q: Why does credit card debt give us such a headache? A: Blame it on the compound interest rate. Bottom line here: Paying attention to interest rates will help inform which debt or savings commitments you should focus on.

3. Track your net worth. 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 keep you apprised of the progress you’re making toward your financial goals—or warn you if you’re backsliding. We explain more here.

How to … Budget Like a Pro

4. Set a budget. Period. This is the starting point for every other goal in your life. Here’s a checklist for building a knockout personal budget.

5. Consider an all-cash diet. If you’re consistently overspending, this will break you out of that rut. Don’t believe us? The cash diet changed the lives of these three people. And when this woman went all cash, she realized that it wasn’t as scary as she thought. Really.

6. Take a daily Money Minute. This one comes straight from LearnVest Founder and C.E.O. Alexa von Tobel, who swears by setting aside one minute each day to check on her financial transactions. This 60-second act helps identify problems immediately, keep track of goal progress—and set your spending tone for the rest of the day!

7. Allocate at least 20% of your income toward financial priorities. By priorities, we mean building up emergency savings, paying off debt and padding your retirement nest egg. Seem like a big percentage? Here’s why we love this number.

8. Budget about 30% of your income for lifestyle spending. This includes movies, restaurants and happy hours—basically, anything that doesn’t cover basic necessities. By abiding by the 30% rule, you can save and splurge at the same time.

RELATED: M.A.S.H. Calculator: How Much Will My Lifestyle Cost?

  • Abby Shen

    Thanks for these money tips. Definitely learned a bit from them!

    I saw this posted somewhere before and I think it really is some of the best savings advice I’ve ever seen posted. Most young people would benefit from it:

    Don’t be foolish and fall into the trap of trying to measure your wealth by the value of your assets. Markets change. Valuations fluctuate. Instead, measure your wealth by the amount of cash flow your assets consistently generate.

    Follow this advice –

    1) Pay off your debts as fast as you possibly can. If this means living in a crappy studio apartment and eating ramen everyday for a couple of years, do it. If you want to buy a car, get a reliable beater. Get insurance for $25/month from Insurance Panda. Forget about buying a house until your debts are paid off.

    2) Once you are out of debt, stay out of debt. The only exception to this rule is a vehicle and a house. If you want to get a nicer car, buy used and be able to pay it off in a year or 2.

    3) If you are going to stay in the same spot for at least 10 years, buy a house, preferably with at least a little bit of usable land. An acre is good, 5 acres is better. Take the amount you are pre-approved for and cut it in half – that’s how much you should spend on a house. Come to the table with at least 20% down and make a couple of extra mortgage payments every year. If you’re going to be transferred or relocate every 5 years, forget about buying a house and rent instead.

    4) Develop multiple revenue streams. Do contract work. Start a business on the side. Invest in a business as a silent partner. Raise chickens, breed dogs or grow apples. Build websites. Buy and sell antiques. Acquire rental property. Sell something that generates residual income. Learn to play the currency markets or trade stocks. Do whatever you can to generate income from multiple sources.

    5) Grow these multiple revenue streams to the point that they generate enough consistent and reliable cash flow to replace your current income.

    6) Make as much as you can. Save as much as you can. Give away as much as you can.

    7) Retire!- the sooner, the better. Be sure you understand that “retirement” doesn’t necessarily mean you stop working, it just means having the freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

    • Cara Tan

      Really like #4! I’m starting to realize that I need a backup just in case!

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