I’ve spent a lot of time reading about personal finances. I, like everyone else, had some preconceived ideas about personal finance. However, these 10 tips from other personal finance bloggers have changed my outlook on finances, with one of my own thrown in for good measure. These are the tips I try and live in order to make the most of my financial situation no matter what it is. Links are provided where applicable to the post it is from. Enjoy!
- The Balanced Money Formula – Get Rich Slowly. I discovered this one on Get Rich Slowly but it originates from a book by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi entitled All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. It talks about 50% of your income going towards needs and no more than that, 30% goes to wants and the other 20% goes to savings. That’s a lot of money to spend on yourself! So do I follow this to the letter? No, in fact I think that it should be flipped if anything. The point, however, is that if you don’t spend some money on fun you go crazy. If you don’t spend just a little bit enjoying life you become frustrated and cranky, something I know about a little too well. Sometimes I get really upset when I can’t put as much into my savings as I planned but I just have to take a step back, remember the Balanced Money Formula, and realize that it’s ok to spend some money on right now instead of putting every sent to work. Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a very cranky human.
- Investment Returns Chart – 7million7years. To be clear I don’t advocate everything Adrian, the founder of 7Million7Years, says on his blog. However, he does make some very interesting and different points on money. One of them that I found was in the form of a chart. It is below but it basically shows how much return potential there is in different investments. The biggest one? Starting your own business, something I am now working towards.
- Get rich quick, not get rich easy – MJ DeMarco, Author of The Millionaire Fastlane. The statement that salespeople use all the time is get rich quick. It reeks of falsity. It is hard to take anyone seriously who says that you can get rich quick. This guy however differentiates it with hard work and nothing but. There is no easy way to get rich and MJ DeMarco wrote a whole book on it. This is one of the things that sets Atypical Millionaire apart too. I have to get rich quickly in order to do something with it. If I’m being frugal all the time trying to save a little here and a little bit there only so I can be ok in retirement then there isn’t much room to bless others. I want to bless others!
- Keep track of everything – Get Rich Slowly. This is something I’ve learned to do ever since I asked my wife to marry me. We were married young, I was 21 and my wife was 20. If we were going to be ok financially I had to know where every penny was going. I bought Quicken and still use it to this day to be able to track every cent I spend.
- Be frugal, not cheap – PocketChanged. The author of Pocket Changed, Caleb Wojcik, recently rebranded his site to simply calebwojcik.com to give him more flexibility on the topics he can write about. That hasn’t changed any of the content he has done for Pocket Changed, which is amazing. If you sign up for his email newsletter he gives you a toolkit which includes 10 tips by email of financial advice. One of them was about being frugal but not cheap. Incredible! Unfortunately, in my quest to be excellent with my finances I’ve been cheap at times. He lays out the big difference in a quote from April Dykman. “Frugality and cheap are two different things. Cheap people only care about the price tag. Frugal people care about value and are willing to spend where it matters.” I want to be frugal not cheap.
- Anything you do for 40 hours a week isn’t just a job, it’s your life – Guest post on DaveRamsey.com. Talk about a wake up call. At my job I work 50 hours a week. I see my coworkers more than I see my own family. The reason why this is such a wake up call, especially for me, is because it forces you to examine what you are doing with your work time. Are you doing something that’s going to bring value to others or are you just dealing with something to make sure you get a steady paycheck? Are you chasing your dreams (but not at the expense of your family’s financial security) or are you just working 9-5 in a monotonous job with very little meaning? It is possible to chase your dreams while you are working a job you aren’t necessarily called to. Baby steps!
- Live below your means – pretty much every financial blogger/expert out there. This one may seem like a no-brainer but I think all of us realize just how difficult this one is. So why has this become such a revelation for me? Because I’m finally there. All of my bills, including budgets for food and gas, take up about 67% of our total income. Now it is very true that God has truly blessed us in the area of finances, but that wouldn’t matter if I would have used it incorrectly. I could have bought a bigger house or put more things on credit cards. I could have bought a new car for myself when we purchased my wife’s since mine is paid off and already almost 4 years “old.” Just the feeling of being able to live quite a bit below your means is incredible. The security, lack of worry, being able to pay for unexpected expenses, these are all things that happen when you live below your means. It’s amazing and I’m never going back to living paycheck to paycheck.
- Stop hitting the snooze button – PocketChanged (and plenty of doctors). I actually did a post on saying goodbye to the snooze button on my personal blog about 10 months ago. You can read about my research there if you want. The results, though, have been astounding! You are actually more alert and more awake when you get up the first time instead of hitting the snooze button 3 or 4 times (or even once). How the heck does that have anything to do with finance? Simple. The better nights sleep you get the better your decisions will be, including for your finances. My advice? Figure out exactly how much sleep you need to be at your best throughout the day, then sleep up until that point, and not a wink longer! Get up with your alarm and you will feel incredible, and you’ll make better choices financially.
- Figure out how much you will need to retire – 7million7years. One great point that the author of 7million7years.com brings up is the cost on inflation of your money. Historically speaking there is a 3% inflation rate (which is much lower right now). If you are saving for 40 years and save up about $2 million in today’s dollars than more than likely that will be worth less than $100,000 a year for you when you go to retire. In other words, you’re going to need a lot more than you think to live a comfortable retirement. Now I may want to be a multimillionaire much sooner than my retirement age, however, I want to stay a millionaire when I’m retiring so this is stuff I’m thinking about.
- Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants” – Epictetus, a greek philosopher. Obviously, with this guy I can’t link to his blog. I purposely saved this one for last though because this is something I try and live by. If you have less wants, the less money you’ll spend, the less clutter you will have, and the less stress you will obtain. You become rich not only monetarily but in life as well. If you decide to only obtain things that are of value then you will be much happier all around. This is a lot harder than it seems, though, especially when your friend or relative has the next best gadget on the market or a bigger TV, etc. Remember, you will never be satisfied with what you have until you stop desiring what you don’t.
These are the 10 tips that have changed the way I look at finances. They have helped me to reign in most bad spending. They’ve helped me to create a budget. They’ve even helped me to get a better night’s sleep. There is one tip of my own that I would leave with you, though.
Do what works best for you! Of all the financial advice I’ve received and finance blog posts I’ve read, not one has been completely dead on. It is always best to pick the best parts of any advice you receive, financial or otherwise, and leave the parts that will not work for you.
Thanks again for your support as I am enjoying writing for you! I hope these tips change your outlook like they have changed mine.