Here is our ultimate collection of money tips and personal finance hacks, compiled in a list for an easy read. These tips cover topics such as making money, paying off debt, setting up a side hustle, saving for retirement, making wise investment and creating emergency funds and other forms of savings.
1. You need a budget
Creating a budget is necessary, not only for your financial security but also for your psychological well-being. A personal budget will, no surprises here, help you put money aside for your future goals, such as your education, debt repayment, home purchase, retirement, vacations and so on. It will also help resolve financial worries that you face by highlighting poor money habits, such as spending too much on entertainment, your car or groceries, and then guide you towards reducing financial wastage and spending efficiently and frugally. We wrote a detailed beginners guide to getting started with personal budgets just for you. If you’re already ahead of the game and maintain a budget, you may find Personal Capital’s online platform useful.
2. To quickly repay your credit card bill, make larger payments more frequently
If you hold credit card debt, interest charges add up every month that the bill is not paid in full and this can quickly multiply your debt because interest rates on credit cards run in double digits, sometimes as high as 20%. Instead of meeting the ‘minimum payment’ on your credit card debt, make more frequent and larger payments, which will not only allow you to lower the amount of accrued interest, but will also result in faster debt repayment.
3. Save first, spend later and automate your savings to grow them regularly
Our savings should not be ‘whatever is leftover at the end of the month’; instead, the correct way to save is to set aside a portion of the salary before you spend it. In other words, our savings goals should ideally be met as soon as we receive the paycheck. Depositing, say, 10% to 20% of our income in a savings account, at the start of the month ensures we grow our savings every single pay cycle, as opposed to waiting till the end of the month to see whether any money is leftover to save. This way, we always meet our savings target.
Because we have dozens of things on out mind when the paycheck arrives, such as making loan installments, paying credit card bills as well as various utility bills, we may simply forget to think about saving money. The solution is to automate the process via online banking platforms, or by asking your payroll department to send part of your income to a separate savings account, while the remaining goes straight to your current salary account. Putting your finances on auto-mode makes money management easier, efficient and reliable. We wrote about how to grow your savings quickly in our very first blog post.
To handle your banking transactions through your phone, check out Digit.
4. Index funds are a safe and effective way to multiply your money in the stock market
I’ve come across a lot of stock brokers who encourage investors to buy and sell multiple shares regularly to ‘time the market’ and make money daily. This strategy may work for some investors, but more than anyone else, it works for the brokers because with every trade you make, you lose a commission which goes to the broker. The other problem with this approach is that scores of studies have proved it is impossible to time the market. People get lucky, that’s all. A low-cost, relatively safe and effective way to invest is by selecting an index fund and holding on to it. Historical analysis shows that index funds often outperform mutual funds.
Of course, you can do the same with the shares of a few promising companies, and the rule of thumb here is, as Warren Buffet said, “If you are not willing to own a stock for 10 years, do not even think about owning it for ten minutes.” Remember, though, that there is no such things as a risk-free investment. Even index funds get affected by market crashes.
To get started with stock investments, check Wealth Simple, Acorns – Invest Spare Change, Trading Lessons, Swell Investing (they’re giving away $50 upon sign-up), Lending Club for Investors, Mint Broker, Market XLS and eToro.
5. You can lower (negotiate) your credit card interest rate
Reducing your credit card interest rate can reduce the rate at which your credit card debt grows. Fortunately, this growth rate (interest rate) is negotiable. Many credit card companies will oblige your request for a lower interest rate on your card if you simply ask them to do so. Sometimes, a little negotiation is required by highlighting your loyalty as a customer or your responsible credit card usage history, in return for which your reward is a lower interest fee. Alternatively, you can point out competing credit cards that offer lower interest rates, or share the fact that the high interest rate will make it very likely that you will default on your future credit card payments. All of these may get you a lower interest rate on your credit card. Check our detailed article about how you can get a lower credit card interest rate.
6. Read financial books to give yourself crash courses in money management
The world of personal finance seems intimidating but it really isn’t. The only reason people are afraid to approach the idea of budgeting your money, making investments and setting up emergency funds, it is because the topics are new to you, not because they are hardcore financial topics. Our first exposure to money management is at home, where we learn from our parents. Some schools also teach students about the basics of budgeting, the risks of debt and how interest rates work, but the details of these subjects are usually not touched until students reach college or university. The alternative is to teach yourself, by reading personal finance blog or books, and there is plenty of material online that can get you started and help you master the art of wisely managing your money. It really is a very straightforward, if you choose the right approach.
Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, is particularly helpful in this regard, where he talks about how to payoff debt and secure yourself financially. If you’re not interested in the theoretical aspect, you could jump straight to the workbook and put your plan in action. I’ve shared a link here for your perusal.*
7. A high credit score will get you a lower interest rate on your loan
Not only do people with better, higher credit scores get approved for loans with lower interest rates, they may also receive better repayment terms. For instance, if you choose to apply for a balance transfer card, your introductory period may be longer if your credit score is higher, or you may be offered a concession on your balance transfer fee. Overall, people with high credit scores receive more favorable loan repayment terms compared to people with low credit scores.
8. Getting rich takes time and grit
The right approach to achieving financial freedom is through patience and grit. Rarely do people get rich overnight. It takes commitment, sacrifice, hard work and plenty of time to build wealth. You have to save money consistently to accumulate funds, make sacrifices to earn more money and focus on your goal of financial independence to stay motivated through the drudgery. It takes a lot of hard work to get rich but it’s not an elusive goal. While time is on your side, hustle away to achieve your goals and do everything you can to make extra money. Check our article on 15 ways to make money from home, as a side hustle. Hustle. Hustle. Hustle away.
9. Order an item and leave it in your online shopping cart to avail discounts
When making online purchases, especially related to tech gadgets, select your final product and place it in the shopping cart before ending the session. The online vendor usually sends you reminders via email to encourage you to complete the purchase, often offering discounts to close the deal quickly. Another way to save money when buying things online is to use a price comparison tool, which we talk about here.
10. Shop for groceries on a full stomach to limit impulse buying
Avoid buying groceries when you’re hungry because you are bound to buy more things than the ones on your shopping list. The chances of impulsively buying a tasty snack, bag of chips or biscuits are low because you wont really fancy the idea of eating those things when your stomach is already full,
11. Sometimes, it’s better to hold on to debt. Sometimes
Contrary to popular financial opinion, it can be a bad idea to payback certain kinds of debts. Of course, the best route is to avoid debt altogether, especially short-term, high interest rate debt, and you should pay that back as soon as possible. However, when it comes to long-term, low-interest rate debt, like mortgages, the scenario is different. If you already have a mortgage, carefully determine the cost of paying back the loan, which may be higher than the cost of carrying the debt, especially if you need to take money out of your investment account or your retirement fund, such as a 401(k). If you have extra money that does not earn you returns, by all means, use it to pay back your debts as fast as possible.
12. Carrying cash helps curb your spending
There are two reasons why carrying cash when going out shopping, helps limit one’s spending. Firstly, it’s easier to spend more when you use plastic money (credit cards or debit cards) compared to actual cash because you don’t feel the ‘pain’ of counting your hard-earned money and handing it over to someone when you make a purchase. Simply swiping the credit card and having your money transferred electronically to someone else’s bank account does not create the same feeling as parting ways with cash in your wallet. Secondly, by relying solely on cash during shopping trips, you will be forced to limit your spending to the amount in your wallet, which is like setting a predetermined budget for the shopping trip and sticking to it.
13. To save money, spend more time at home
Going out on weekends for fun opens up plenty of opportunities to spend money, whether it’s on food, entertainment or a great sale that caught your eye at a retail outlet. To stop yourself from spending money unnecessarily, simply stay at home on weekends.
14. Your time is more valuable than money
In the race to reach financial independence, one must remember that our time here is finite, and so are the moments we get to spend with the special people in our lives. Money will buy you happiness if you use the money to buy more time and do the things you really love, such as pursuing a hobby, enjoying nature or spending time with your loved ones.
15. Avoid lifestyle inflation
As Dave Ramsey said, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” This is what keeping up with the Joneses and lifestyle inflation is all about. Knowing the difference between our needs and wants greatly simplifies our budget allocations and reduces wasteful spending. The minimalist lifestyle preaches us to only buy and keep things that truly make us happy, and that reduces our wants while reminding us of our limitless wealth. Read out article on fighting lifestyle inflation.
16. Use credit card rewards to your benefit (without gathering debt)
Credit card loyalty benefits are a great way to save money because they offer rewards in the form of cashbacks, points that can be used to acquire free gifts and lastly, air travel miles that you can use on vacations. All these rewards can help you save a lot of money in the long run if you do not carry a balance on the credit card. This is because any interest payments you make on your credit card debt will offset the benefit you stand to achieve through cashback programs, and some credit card companies even revoke your rewards if you fail to pay the credit card bill. We talk about how credit cards can be used to save money in detail here.
17. Do not spend money you do not have
Thomas Jefferson famously said, “Never spend your money before you have it.” In today’s world, this advice can be applied to credit cards and other forms of debt, which we tend to carry and accrue interest charges on, thus, losing money. A rule of thumb should be that one must not buy things using credit cards if they cannot pay the entire bill on time because they will incur large interest charges. Similarly, it is better to save up for a car or house and make the entire payment in full because any leasing agreement or mortgage plan will force you to pay a higher price in the long run.
18. To determine the value of a purchase, calculate the cost by looking at the ‘hours worked’ to earn the price
When making the decision to make a big ticket purchase, do not simply look at the price tag of the item. Instead, look at the value of the item based on the numbers of hours you worked to earn the equivalent amount of money. The retail price of any item does not necessarily depict the true cost of a purchase to you – the amount of effort you put in to make that purchase, does. For example, if a new phone catches your eye, ask yourself, ‘Is it worth 70 hours of my life?’ This approach helps control impulsive buying that can ruin your budget planning.
When you determine the price of something new based on the numbers of hours you worked to earn the equivalent amount of money, instead of the retail price, you can’t understand the true cost of a purchase. This approach puts the purchase into perspective, such helps control impulsive buying and keeps your budget easy to stick to.
19. If you want to get rich, save
If you want financial security and freedom, knowing how to save money is more important than earning more money. You could be making $100,000 a year but if you fail to save any of it, you won’t attain financial independence. Saving a small portion of your income on a regular basis, say 15%, can add up over time if you tuck the money into a savings account or invest it in income-generating assets, like stocks, bonds or real estate. Save, save and save some more and achieve your financial dreams. Remember the importance of giving money away on your journey towards financial independence – be it in the form of charity or creating a will to pass on your financial freedom to your relatives.
To create a will, check out Trust and Will.
20. Eat homemade food to save significantly
This hack may sound like an obvious one to many people, but the truth is, a lot of us spend disproportionately high amounts on indulging ourselves at cafés, restaurants, hotels, fast food chains, take outs and food-related home deliveries. Making a budget shows us how much of our income is spent in these categories and many folks spend upward of a couple of hundred dollars this way.
Use meal planning to cut down your grocery bills and cook at home as much as possible. Take leftovers to work the next day or make a delicious sandwich for yourself to eat at work. By all means, pop into restaurants or visit a famous food truck once in a while, but consider eating out a ‘treat’ rather than the norm, and you will save yourself a lot of money.
Being frugal is not at all difficult if you set your mind upon it. These 20 frugality hacks will help you cut your living expenses, save money for a stable financial future, generate money to support your goals and help you find peace and happiness. Share your frugality hacks below. I’d love to hear them.
*Affiliate link via Amazon