There’s a lot of wisdom on the internet. At least, if you know where to look.
For inspiration on ways we can innovate and improve our finances, we turned to some of the best personal finance blogs and asked those been-there-done-that personal finance bloggers for their top tips.
Here’s what they told us.
1. Start a ‘Time Journal’
If you want to save some money, audit all of your recurring expenses. These are your monthly bills like Netflix, cable TV, internet, gym membership, etc. Keep track of how often you use them in a journal. You might pay for Netflix each month but not use it at all, or only a couple times a month.
Armed with that data, it’s easier to cancel something when you realize how little you use it. Sometimes we hold onto things with the hope we will use it, or because we think we use it more often than we really do. A time journal will show you exactly what you use, how often and how much you’re paying for it.
-Jim Wang of personal finance blog WalletHacks
2. Get Text Alerts
One of the best tips I’ve implemented this year is to receive text alerts for my credit cards and bank accounts, as I’ve had multiple instances when I had fraudulent purchases on my credit cards. I’m thankful I caught those so I could get them fixed ASAP!
Something else I’ve done is to look at preschool programs at churches in my area so I could save on childcare. Many have before- and after-care services, meaning you could put your child in for the whole day. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars this way, as childcare only costs me around $400. The bonus is that you get to know your local community better, and I’ve been able to find friends for my son, plus swap babysitting duties, which helps me save money on babysitters.
-Sarah Li-Cain of personal finance podcast Beyond The Dollar
3. Don’t Be Shy About the ‘Big Stuff’
When I first started reading and writing about money, I was obsessed with small changes. I grew a garden to save money on vegetables. I clipped coupons. These things helped–no question!–but progress was slow. Over the past decade, I’ve learned that if you want to make real progress with your money, you’re better off working on the Big Stuff.
For most families in the U.S., housing is the biggest expense. If you can reduce that to, say, 20 or 25 percent of your budget, you could free up hundreds of dollars per month. Transportation is the second-largest expense in the U.S. This is another huge opportunity to save, if you’re willing to drive less, bike to work or take public transportation. When you buy a car, buy used.
Finally, manage your career as if you were managing a business. You are the boss of you. Learn how to negotiate your salary. Seek additional education. If you have a hobby, find a way to make money from it. There’s only so low you can go with your spending, but your income is theoretically unlimited.
-J.D. Roth of personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly
4. Never Forget Your Goals
My #1 tip is to have a purpose for your money. Saving money just for the sake of saving money is ripe for abuse. We steal from it. We “borrow.” When we have a purpose, however, we understand why we’re saving money. When we have a goal in mind, we are much more likely to hold true to our saving regimen. Establish goals and save for a purpose!
-Steve Adcock of personal finance blog ThinkSaveRetire
5. Pay Yourself First . . . and Second
Too many people try to save what is left over at the end of the month, and most times this amount is zero. You are never going to get ahead by saving nothing! Instead, make sure you pay yourself first. Then also pay yourself second.
First, contribute to your 401(k) plan at work. Then, when your paycheck hits your checking account, transfer a set amount over to a savings account. Even if you are only saving $10 or $20 at a time, this money will eventually grow into larger sums of money. Just keep doing it month after month, and you will see a big change in your finances.
-Jon Dulin of personal finance blog Compounding Pennies
6. Keep It Simple
Earn as much as you can, live below your means and invest as much as possible. That’s it. Personal finance really isn’t that complicated. Just find a way to make a living, avoid debt like the plague, and invest in simple stuff like real estate and the S&P 500. Follow those simple steps and you won’t have to read another money quote for the rest of your life.
-Derek Sall of personal finance blog Life and My Finances
7. Use Money as a Bridge to Become Who You Want
Choose a vision of a life that you’ve always dreamed of living. Every decision you make should help you get closer to living that life; start seeing your finances as the bridge that can help you leave who you used to be, and become who you want to be.
The easiest way to reach your dream life is to always keep your savings rate ahead of your spending rate. If you don’t know what your monthly savings and spending habits are, track them to learn more about yourself and your money. The purpose of increasing your savings is so that you can feel fearless and empowered to take more risks, and to live the life your soul dreams of living.
-Billy B. of personal finance blog Wealth Well Done
We love reading our favorite personal finance blogs, but action is important, too. So, think about which of these tips you can genuinely incorporate in your own life. And whatever path you take, we hope you can turn money into a source of empowerment and joy, rather than stress.
This article is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific tax or legal advice. Please note that Fabric and its representatives do not give tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to consult with your tax advisor or attorney concerning your own situation.
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