Today’s money advice comes from Askmen.com. But ladies, this is for you, too. To make the most of your finances while you’re under 40, or 50, follow these 60 tips.
by Trent Hamm
A while back, I was asked to give an hour-long presentation where I talked about my key principles of personal finance. I chose to give a presentation where each slide was available for about a minute with one simple rule on each slide, giving me a minute to discuss that rule. Thus, I ended up coming up with 60 short and simple rules for personal finance.
I would happily share the presentation with you, but I’m not sure of the copyright nature of some of the images used. Instead, I’m just going to present the 60 rules, along with my quick personal thoughts on each rule.
Of course, not everyone will be able to follow each rule all of the time. However, the more you follow these “rules,” the better your financial situation will become.
#1 – Spend less than you earn
If there is a single fundamental rule of personal finance, it’s this. You have to spend less than you earn and put away that difference for the future so that you can still survive and thrive when you’re older and don’t have the opportunities and energy of today. Without your earnings being greater than your expenses, you simply cannot achieve big financial goals without some sort of miracle – and you should never bet your future on a miracle.
#2 – Keep everything as simple as possible
The more credit cards you have, the more chances you have for identity theft and the more chances you have to miss a payment. The more investment accounts you have, the less attention you can give to each one and the more likely it is that you’ll miss a big problem. The more accounts and investments and bills that you have, the more time and energy you have to spend to stay on top of it all and the more likely it is that you’re going to make an error.
Simplify. Cancel some of those cards. Roll over some of those investments. Consolidate some of those debts.
#3 – Don’t ever let your “future self” take care of your current situation
Do you ever tell yourself that it’s okay to make a bad spending decision right now because you’ll earn more money down the road? That’s a giant mistake, one you’ll almost always regret for a long, long time. Sure, your future self might have more income, but it’s also fairly likely that your future self might have less income and you’ll find yourself in a really bad situation. Even if your future self is doing well, there are probably going to be other big expenses that you’ll want to deal with at that time, like buying a house.
#4 – Focus first on building an emergency fund
If you do not have a cash emergency fund just sitting in a savings account at a local bank somewhere, this should be your number one priority. Cash is king for solving all of the problems that life throws at you. Unlike credit, cash is available in situations of credit problems or of identity theft. You can start building an emergency fund by setting up an automatic weekly or monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings, then leaving the savings alone until an emergency beckons.
#5 – Focus second on eliminating high interest debt
If you have an emergency fund in hand, you should next focus on eliminating your high-interest debt. Set up a simple debt repayment plan by organizing your debts by interest rate, then attempt to make a double payment (or more) on whatever debt has the highest interest rate. Make that double payment every month, then when that debt is gone, add the total amount of that payment to the payment you’re making on the next debt on the list. Keep repeating until your high-interest debts are gone.
#6 – Focus third on saving for retirement
Once your high interest debts are out of the way, start saving for retirement. If you haven’t already, open up a 401(k) plan at work and start contributing to that plan. If you don’t have a 401(k) at work, set up your own Roth IRA account, which you can do through virtually any investment house (I use Vanguard). Contributing a few percent of your pay may sound painful, but it will actually end up being a much smaller burden than you expect, one that’s lifted up by the pleasure of knowing that you’re securing your retirement.
#7 – Buy term life insurance to cover your dependents
Don’t let an insurance salesman fool you. You don’t need much life insurance unless you have dependents (meaning people besides you whose well being directly rely on your income). If you do have dependents, your best bet is to get a term life insurance policy, one that will pay out enough money to care for your dependents in the event of your early passing. All of those other insurance plans offer things that you won’t really need at all and charge you a pretty penny for it.
#8 – Build a budget, just for the process of building it right
A budget can be a useful tool for keeping your spending on track, but the most valuable part of budgeting is actually the process of building a budget correctly. How does one do it correctly? You build a budget based on looking at your actual spending over the previous few months.
How much do you actually spend a month on food? Entertainment? Utilities? Your car? Get real numbers, not estimates. Dig through your bank statements and credit card statements and figure it out. This process will easily show you the areas where you actually overspend, while just following a “cookie cutter” budget doesn’t show you much of anything. It’s an excellent habit to get into, especially since professional security can be unpredictable, and you may find yourself looking for new employment.
#9 – Cut the fat from every single one of your bills
We all get bills. Some of them aren’t useful at all. Many of them have extra expenses tacked on that we don’t really need. Go through each of your monthly bills with a fine-toothed comb, looking at every line. If you don’t know what the expense is, call up the company and ask to have it removed. If you don’t think you really need that expense, call up the company and ask to have it removed. If you don’t need the bill at all, call up the company and cancel the service. This is a useful thing to do on at least a yearly basis.
#10 – Know how much money you actually take home per hour you devote to work
Figure out how much you earned last year after taxes, then subtract from that all of the costs of commuting, professional clothes, work-related meals, and other expenses you paid out of pocket. Then, figure out how many hours you worked (including those at home), plus the hours you commuted and attended other business meetings. Divide your after-expenses income by your total hours work to get your true hourly wage. That’s how much you actually sell an hour of your time for.
#11 – Use that as a comparison point for everything you buy
I find that true hourly wage to be an incredibly valuable number. I use mine as a comparison for almost everything I buy. Let’s say my “true wage” is $10 per hour. If I’m looking at buying a $20 Bluray, I ask myself whether owning this is worth two hours of my life when I could just rent it. If I’m thinking of buying a $1,000 television, I ask myself whether it’s worth 100 hours of my life to have this model when I could have a lesser television instead. It almost always encourages me to ask what I’m really spending my life’s energy to achieve.
#12 – Ignore “professional” stock pickers
Financial media, from magazines like Money and Kiplinger’s to things like CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, are constantly loaded with articles where various “experts” are touting the “hot” stock and investment picks. I ignore all of it.
First, those people quite often have a big conflict of interest. Second, the ins and outs of various companies and industries are too complex for an outside stock analyst to know very well, especially considering how much information is hidden from them. Third, if their calls are actually accurate, the company they work for will have already acted on that information anyway, meaning you get (at best) the scraps left behind. Just ignore all of it.
#13 – Ignore “professional” economic forecasts, too
In much the same way, don’t put much value in economic forecasts. Often, those forecasts are dead wrong and even if they’re not, they’re rarely good indicators of what you should be doing with your professional life or your money. Don’t base your personal finance decisions based on what someone predicts will happen in the future, ever. If you’re nervous about the future, then you should be more conservative in the investments you make from now on; that’s about the only change you should ever make in the face of economic forecasts. However, that has more to do with your own personal risk tolerance than any economic forecast.
#14 – Set big goals and keep reminding yourself of them
What is it that you want for your future? It’s a difficult question, but it’s one that can provide incredible motivation and direction for the things you do in your everyday life, encouraging you to take better steps.
Do you want a secure early retirement? Do you want to start a business? Do you want to travel around the world? Do you want to find a new job you love? Whatever your goal is, keep it in mind all the time. Fill your life with reminders of your big goal so that you make better choices in line with that goal when it comes to all of those little decisions in your life.
#15 – Rent unless your total monthly cost of home ownership is lower than renting
It’s easy to get sold on the “American dream” of home ownership, but if it’s going to jack up your bills, it’s probably not a wise move. You’re better off renting and saving for a big down payment than moving into a home where your bills – mortgage, insurance, property taxes, homeowners association fees, maintenance – will add up to more than the cost of your rent and rental insurance.
If you do decide to buy, go low end and move up from there later so that you’re not trapped under the weight of a giant monthly mortgage payment.
#16 – Buy cars based on reliability and fuel efficiency
Those are the two factors you should think about above all else when it comes to buying a car because they will make an enormous difference in your finances. A reliable and fuel-efficient car will keep your fuel bills and your repair bills low for the entire time that you own it. You can research reliability at your local library by taking a look at reliability data from Consumer Reports; fuel efficiency is easy to find at websites like fueleconomy.gov.
#17 – Drive the speed limit
Driving the speed limit saves you in multiple ways. Most cars are engineered to have good fuel efficiency at typical speed limits, but their fuel efficiency drops rapidly above that, shedding as much as 1% fuel efficiency for each mile per hour over 65. This article provides lots of details on this phenomenon, but it turns out that slowing down even a little can save you a lot of cash.
Furthermore, driving the speed limit drastically reduces the chances of a traffic ticket, which can both be directly expensive and result in insurance inflation. Simply dropping your speed from, say, 70 to 65 only costs you about 4 minutes per hour of driving, but it saves you a surprising amount of cash.
#18 – Air seal your home
One of the biggest costs to homeowners comes in the form of leaking air. In the winter, warm air leaks out and cold air leaks in, causing the furnace to run more. In the summer, cold air leaks out and warm air leaks in, causing the air conditioner to run more. There are lots of solutions to both problems, but one of the most efficient strategies for both is to just air seal your home, which means that you look for places where air is leaking out of your home and you seal them up. Here’s a great guide to home air sealing.
#19 – Build strong relationships with your neighbors
A neighbor is a person that you can borrow something from instead of having to go to the store. A neighbor is a person who can keep an eye on your property while you’re away. A neighbor is a person who can make an ordinary dinner into an effortless social occasion without any additional cost. A neighbor can be an endless source of useful advice about the local area. Get to know your neighbors and build a relationship with them. Offer to help your neighbors whenever you can – and ask them for help sometimes, too. You’ll build a relationship that will offer tons of value to both of you.
#20 – Request rate reductions on your debts, especially credit card debts
If you owe any debts, it never hurts to look into the possibility of reducing your interest rates on those debts. For credit cards, it’s as easy as simply calling up your credit card company and asking for a reduction. For other bills, such as student loans, consolidation can lower your interest rate. With your mortgage, a refinancing can reduce your rate dramatically.
Lowering interest rates can both reduce your monthly payments and reduce the total amount of interest that you pay over the life of a loan, so any reduction you can get is a good thing for your wallet.
#21 – Don’t (necessarily) save for your children’s college education
Many people worry about how their children will pay for college. Here’s the thing: you can provide just as much help to them by being completely financially secure as they grow older so they don’t have to worry about you as a financial burden. If you do choose to help, you can usually tap your retirement to help pay for education (though that’s usually not the most financially sound idea, it is a possibility). It’s never bad to save for college, but you should make other things a priority first.
#22 – Teach your children about smart personal finance from day one and be a good example
Talk to your children about money starting from the earliest age. Explain to them the virtues of spending less than you earn and not getting yourself into debt. Even more than that, live those lessons in front of your children. Don’t just talk about it, do it. Show them how it’s done in your day to day actions. If you talk about spending less than you earn and then do it in your day to day life, the lessons are much more likely to stick.
#23 – Don’t touch your retirement if at all possible
When you’re struggling to pull yourself out of a financial hole, it can be very tempting to tap your retirement funds to pay off debts or to make a house down payment. If you can, avoid doing that. Not only do you lose out on years of growth in your finances, it’s also very easy to not adequately restock your retirement after doing this. Tap your retirement if you must, but it should be an avenue of last resort.
#24 – Invest most of your money in stocks – and hold on no matter what happens
Not sure how to invest your money? Unless your goal is a short-term one – less than 10 years until you empty it out – you should have most of your money in stocks because, over the long term, they tend to offer very good returns. The problem with stocks is that they tend to be very volatile, with lots of short-term jumps and falls in value. Hold on and be patient; better yet, just don’t look at the value of your investments if they’re far down the road.
#25 – Shoot for the average by buying index funds with low fees
The best way (in my opinion) to invest in the stock market is to buy index funds with low fees. Index funds allow you to buy a small piece of the stock of lots of different companies at once with one single investment. Usually, index funds offer low fees as well (because they don’t cost much to manage), which means more of your investment stays with you rather than being drained off by the investment house.
#26 – Don’t bother with individual stocks
Individual stock investing is a fool’s game. In order to do it well, it requires a ton of research and a lot of attention, and even then it comes with a lot of risk. Unless you get significant enjoyment out of it and are investing with money that you won’t need in the future, I strongly encourage you to avoid investing in individual stocks.
#27 – Buy some international investments, too
Most people focus on buying domestic investments – stocks in American companies, American treasury notes, and so on. That’s fine, but it puts you at risk in situations where America’s economy is weaker than the rest of the world. You should diversify at least a little and have some portion of your investments in an index fund made up of international stocks and other international investments such as the euro and the Chinese yuan.
#28 – Put the rest of your investments in bonds and Treasurys
Unless you have a ton of risk tolerance and your investment goals are far, far down the road, it’s not a bad idea to have at least some of your money in safer things like highly rated bonds and United States Treasury notes. These investments are much less volatile than stocks and tend to just slowly raise in value consistently over time.
#29 – Buy target-date retirement funds within your retirement account
While the previous four tips are useful ones if you want to invest outside of your retirement account, most people are concerned more about investing within their retirement account. In that case, your best investment option (assuming you don’t want to spend a ton of time studying and rebalancing) is to simply buy a target-date retirement fund within your retirement account. It essentially automates the tips given above.
#30 – Get every possible dime of employer matching in your 401(k) or 403(b)
If your employer offers matching funds for your 401(k) or 403(b) plan, make absolutely sure you’re contributing enough to get every single dime of those matching funds. Why? They’re free money – and free money is rare in life. It allows you to get a huge immediate return on every dollar that you save for retirement. Not doing this is effectively the same as telling your employer that you don’t want their money and that they should keep it instead.
#31 – Make a meal plan at the start of each week
One big mistake that busy people make is that they don’t have a clear plan for where their meals are coming from during the week, leaving them to improvise on many week nights. That kind of improvisation, where there are no plans for dinner when you get off of work or there are no plans for lunch during the work day, usually ends up with extra expenses in the form of restaurant meals, takeout, and convenience foods.
A bit of time spent planning out meals for the week when you have time during the previous weekend can drastically cut your food expenses because you’ll know what you’re having for each meal and can easily handle the necessary preparation.
#32 – Use your grocery store flyer to assemble that meal plan
Your grocery store flyer lists all of the foods that are on sale that week. Use it as the basis for figuring out your meal plan for the upcoming week by starting with those ingredients and using Google to find simple and tasty recipes using those ingredients. Once you have some recipes, make a list of all of the ingredients that you don’t have – that’s your grocery list. Which brings us to…
#33 – Don’t ever go shopping without a grocery list
If you’re ever in a store without some kind of shopping list, you’re probably making a mistake. If you don’t have anything you actually intend to buy there, then you’re hanging out in a place that needlessly drains your wallet. If you do intend to buy some things but don’t have a clear plan for it, you’re going to get sucked into impulse buys, which will also drain your wallet. A shopping list keeps you on focus whenever you’re in a store, which cuts down significantly on those impulsive purchases.
#34 – Ignore advertising
Try as much as you can to cut advertising out of your life. Minimize your time spent reading magazines. Fast forward through commercials – or find other ways to watch television that don’t involve commercials at all, such as binge-watching via Netflix. Listen to commercial-free radio like NPR. It’s hard to completely eliminate advertising in modern life, but the less you’re exposed to, the less temptation you have to spend your money on products you don’t need.
#35 – Find hobbies that don’t require an upkeep cost
Many hobbies have an ongoing upkeep cost. Golf, for example, always requires new balls and more greens fees. Many hobbies require you to constantly buy fresh supplies for making things. While it’s fine to have some hobbies that require an upkeep, try to discover ones that have small upkeeps or none at all. Get into things like geocaching or rock collecting or playing music on an instrument you already have.
#36 – Try anything and everything that’s free in your community
Many communities have a thriving community calendar that lists endless meetings, community events, and other things going on around town that you may not even be aware of. Your local library probably has an additional calendar with tons of events, as does meetup.com and the bulletin boards at city hall and the post office and the library. Check all of these things. Try everything that’s free, just to see if it clicks for you. At worst, you’ll learn more about your community at no cost. At best, you’ll make a lot of new friends as well as find activities and clubs you’re interested in, and it’ll still cost you nothing.
#37 – Don’t worry about what other people think
Don’t choose a car to impress other people. Don’t choose clothes to impress other people. Don’t choose gadgets to impress other people. Why? Because it won’t really impress them. The only thing that will impress someone about you is you. It’s about how you carry yourself, what ideas you bring to the table, and how you listen and respond to others. Don’t spend a dime on the other stuff.
#38 – Don’t worry about how other people spend their money, either
If you see someone driving an expensive car, don’t use that as an excuse to feel jealous or to tell yourself that you, too, need an expensive car. You don’t. Just because other people choose to buy things or eat at certain restaurants or whatever else people in your life choose to do with their money does not mean you need to do it too. Make choices and spend money on things that build up the things you care about, not the things other people care about.
#39 – Put in the time to build good, strong, lasting relationships
Having a life full of strong personal and professional relationships will serve you well in every aspect of your life for the rest of your life. The people in your life provide emotional, social, professional, spiritual, mental, and, yes, financial support for almost anything you might want to do. Put in the time and effort to build strong relationships by helping others, listening to what they’re saying, offering support, and being involved with the community.
#40 – Review your finances, your career, and your life once a week
This may seem overly simple, but it has brought about countless transformations in my life. Once a week, I spend an hour reviewing the week that has gone by as well as thinking ahead to the week that is to come and my long term goals.
Am I doing things that are in line with those goals? What are the best things I did this week in terms of where I want to be going? What were the worst things, and why did I do them? How can I avoid doing them in the future? Am I still happy with my big goals? Spend real time thinking about those things every week and you’ll feel a positive transformation in your day to day life.
#41 – Never play the lottery
The lottery is a for-profit enterprise, meaning that the lottery keeps more money than they pay out. That means you’re extremely likely to wind up on the losing end of the stick, paying in more money than you’ll ever get out of the lottery. Don’t do it – it’s a true waste of money. The same thing is true for casino games of chance. If you enjoy playing games, find other distractions.
#42 – Find meaningful things to spend your spare time on
This goes in line with the suggestion above to find hobbies without an upkeep cost, but it goes further than that. Are you spending your spare time in a way that makes you into a better person? Are you building skills in your spare time? There are plenty of ways to have fun while also building skills or developing as a person, from volunteering or attending religious services to taking career-boosting classes or getting involved in a professional or civic organization.
#43 – Start a side business doing the thing you’ve always wanted to do
Almost all of us have a big dream inside. My dream has always been to be a fiction writer because I deeply love telling stories. Whatever your dream is, find a way to fill at least some of your spare time with it. Is there a way to touch on the thing you enjoy so deeply while also making money? Could you make Youtube videos about it, or start a website, or write a Kindle book? Most likely, you could – you just need to make that choice.
#44 – Watch less television
The average American watches five hours of television per day. If you can take just half of that time and apply it to other life-enriching activities, not only will you build a better life for yourself – probably one in which your earning potential is significantly increased – but you’ll feel better, too, and have fewer material desires.
Don’t give up television programs if you enjoy them, but give up mindless “channel surfing” and find something more fulfilling to do. You’ll probably use less energy and you’ll also likely improve your earnings.
#45 – Use the 10-second rule
Whenever you’re tempted to splurge on something cheap, simply hold it in your hand for 10 seconds and ask yourself honestly whether you need it or not. Actively try to think of reasons why you shouldn’t buy this item. Will it really help you toward your goals? Will you really get enough value out of it to make it worth the cost? Usually, just 10 seconds will convince you that you don’t really need the item, and if something still passes the test, feel free to buy it!
#46 – Use the 30-day rule, too
What about more expensive items? For more expensive items – and you can draw the line between “cheap” and “expensive” where you please – simply choose to wait 30 days after your first serious impulse before buying the expensive item, provided that it’s not an essential or emergency need. Use that time to do a little research and make sure you actually want or will use the item, and also give it time to just sit there and see if the desire dies down. You’ll find that, more often than not, you won’t want the item after thirty days.
#47 – Shop first at the low-end stores
Whenever you’re shopping, choose to make a “first run” at low-end stores: discount grocers, thrift stores, secondhand stores, and so on. Sure, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pick up everything you want there, but if you can just knock a few items off your list at bargain-basement prices, then it’s going to lower your overall spending by a notable amount. For example, I use Aldi as a “first-run” grocery store when I have a big list, as there are several items I buy there before I go to other stores.
#48 – Cut back on convenience foods
Convenience foods – meaning any food that’s partially or wholly assembled or prepared for you to eat at home – are virtually always overpriced and are usually incredibly unhealthy. You pay for the convenience of those foods, not for the quality of the ingredients or the bang for the buck.
There are times when convenience foods can really help out, but find ways to cut back on them. Learn to make simple meals at home and your cost per meal will go down significantly (as will your long term health care costs).
#49 – Cut back on drinking, smoking, soda, and other addictive habits
Any substance that you feel compelled to consume that doesn’t fulfill a dietary need is not only an unnecessary expense that’s draining your wallet, but likely damaging to your health as well. Are you feeding an alcohol addiction? Smoking? Soda? Coffee? Do you find it difficult to function without these things? Are you spending money constantly on these things? If you’re nodding your head yes, even reluctantly, it’s a sure sign that you need to cut back on a habit.
#50 – Make meals in advance on the weekends
One of the most valuable things you can do on the weekends is to make some meals in advance for the coming week or two and store them in the freezer. For example, you might make a batch of breakfast burritos so that you have a quick, tasty, healthy, and inexpensive breakfast for the coming weeks. You might make a quadruple batch of lasagna, eating one for dinner on Sunday and sticking the other three in the freezer.
Doing this lets you cook at home (saving money) using bulk ingredients (saving more money) and sets you up for cheap and convenient meals later on (saving even more money).
#51 – Use LED light bulbs
LED light bulbs have reached the point where they make an almost unnoticeable replacement for ordinary incandescent bulbs. The only difference? They use about 20% as much energy and last 20 times as long. Adding together all of the costs of an incandescent bulb versus an LED bulb, you’ll save more than $100 over the lifetime of the LED bulb as compared to incandescent lighting. No joke.
#52 – Price-compare the grocery options in your area and choose the inexpensive one
What items do you regularly put on your grocery lists? Milk? Bread? Eggs? Make a short list of ten or fifteen items that you buy very frequently at grocery stores, then visit different grocers over the course of your next several grocery shopping excursions. Note the price of those items, then add them up. You’ll save money over the long run by shopping at whichever store has the lowest total on those items. However, this is a good thing to check every year or two as stores tend to evolve their pricing schemes and new competitors enter the market.
#53 – When you have a problem, try to fix it yourself
When your toilet is having problems or your faucet won’t stop dripping, it can be tempting to call a repairman to have him or her just fix the problem. Before you do that, though, give the problem a shot yourself. Look up how to do it online, borrow some tools from a friend, and see what you can do. You might just find that you can fix the problem yourself, saving some cash and building confidence for future repairs. Theworst case is that you just have to call in the repairperson anyway.
#54 – Keep up with your car maintenance
It’s easy to forget about regular car maintenance. After all, the car starts up every morning and you scarcely have to even think about it. The problem is that neglecting maintenance over the long haul will eventually wear out your car and lead to major problems far sooner than necessary.
Your car has a maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual that you can easily follow – it tells you what maintenance is needed at what mileage, making it easy to schedule appointments or, even better, to do it yourself.
#55 – Keep your tires properly inflated
Every two PSI that’s missing from your set of tires costs your car 1% in fuel efficiency. Big deal, you say? Many cars are missing as much as eight or ten PSI, resulting in a 5% loss in fuel efficiency. Imagine just losing a gallon of gas for every 20 that you buy.
Even worse, an underinflated tire is much more at risk of tearing or suffering other damage, leaving you stranded with a big expense. Keeping it inflated is really easy, too; you just need a few minutes at the “free air” pump at your local gas station to get things right.
#56 – Cancel your unused memberships and subscriptions
Got a gym membership you never use? Cancel it. What about a country club you haven’t been to in years? Drop it. Don’t watch your Netflix subscription? Drop it. Got Amazon Prime but only order stuff once every month or two? Drop it. Subscribed to DailyBurn but rarely exercise? Drop it. Unused subscriptions and memberships do nothing but devour your money month after month.
#57 – Eat leftovers and brown bag your lunches
Leftovers might not sound like the best thing, but they’re free meals and they’re easy to jazz up with a little salt and pepper and maybe a few spices like a dash of Italian seasoning.
If you have leftovers after your family dinner or if you’re bringing home a doggy bag from a restaurant, take the extra step to package these leftovers up as convenient individual meals and take one with you to work the next day or the day after, making for a free lunch. If you’re prone to eating out for lunch, get into a routine of this, as well as a routine of making your own lunch at home the night before so that you always have something to take with you for lunch that’s far cheaper than eating at a restaurant each day.
#58 – Use public transportation, especially if it can help you eliminate a car
Public transportation can be an incredibly inexpensive way to commute to work, especially if you purchase a long-term pass. Many people overlook it for the “freedom” of driving a car, but then rarely do much on their commute other than drive to and from work. If that describes you, try using public transport for a while. It’s often faster in rush-hour traffic and cheaper than the gas and oil and other maintenance costs of running the car. And if you find you can do without that car, you can sell it for some money in your pocket and lose the registration and insurance costs.
#59 – Share your dreams and your mistakes with your partner
If you’re in a long-term relationship, being completely open with your partner about your dreams as well as your mistakes is an incredibly powerful way to maintain your focus and continue to make good decisions in life.
Spend some time at least once a week talking to your partner about your big goals in life as well as any challenges and mistakes you’re struggling with. Encourage your partner to do the same, and keep any negative emotions in check. Instead, encourage each other to improve and do better and keep that encouragement up throughout the week. This makes a world of difference in every aspect of life.
#60 – Remember that “stuff” will never make you happy
Happiness comes from within. All the stuff in the world won’t make you happy, but if you’re happy inside, it doesn’t take much of anything to bring you joy. Never, ever buy into the idea that owning something will make you happier than you are right now because it won’t. The only way money can help is by reducing your stress and eventually improving your life options through improved financial security – and you can only get there by being smart with your money.
These rules aren’t hard and fast ultimatums designed to run your life, but little tools that you can use to put yourself on a better financial, professional, and personal track. Feel free to pick and choose among them and find the ones that will work well for you, as each of these can improve one’s situation. If you can, try to apply a lot of them to your life, as the more positive directions you have, the faster your whole life will transform (in a good way).
This article originally appeared on thesimpledollar.com, a blog for people looking to acquire financial information on finding the best products and services, saving money, making smart investments, and controlling personal finances.