6 Personal Finance Success Tips

by TTMK on September 3, 2012 · 18 comments

The blogosphere is replete with tips on how to do things better, and simply improve our lives in general.  It seems like we can find more and more information with each passing day.  This is a good thing, because wisdom can be shared much easier than it was in days gone by!

Personal finance success tips are no exception to this trend.  Along those lines, I thought I would share some of my own tips, based mostly on my life experience and to some degree on the success of others.  There were many topics to possibly address, but I decided to share a small cross-section in this particular post.

Here are 6 personal finance  and money-related tips that I offer up for your consideration:

  1. Focus more on making money rather than on saving money.  Now, it’s of course important to save money.  I’m not a fan of spending much money in general, but we can’t get away from some regular expenses that are a part of life.  We can only cut so far, until the incremental time we spend on thinking about and executing savings measures outweighs the time involved. Such time could be used to work harder on one’s job, networking, getting an advanced degree, or even making side income.  Besides, if we want to save money, we need to make it first!
  2. Keep yourself healthy.  Whoa! How is this a money tip? Well, if we can’t keep healthy, it can seriously impair our ability to make money.  Once the cash inflow stops sooner than we want it to, real problems can ensue. Additionally, health care can be quite expensive. The bottom line is that it pays to be healthy.
  3. Learn how to define what “needs” really are.  Tried and true recipe, right? Needs before wants.  The thing is, I think that a lot of folks get derailed by misclassifying a want as a need. For example, nobody needs a new home or condo with new carpet, a kitchen with granite countertops, beautiful master bath, etc.  I had one of those once, in the form of a new condo. I really liked it, but it wasn’t truly necessary.  A need would be something more like a safe, just big enough home close to work and school.  People who stretch for something that’s not a need but a want, can end up overspending and sometimes harming their finances in the process. The housing crisis is Exhibit A for that point!
  4. Think long-term.  Remember, it’s easier to work and make money when younger. When older, it can be tougher to move around, and people often just have much less energy and more health problems. Plus, it can be easier to find work when younger.  This is why it’s important to think long-term, and work for the you of today, AND the you of many years from now.
  5. Save early and often.  Sure, I mentioned above that we should focus more on making money.  However, that doesn’t mean we want to ignore saving. Rather, simply start saving money and make it automatic. Do it as early in your life as possible, and save as much as you feasibly can without spending inordinate time and effort doing so.  Over the long-term (that word again!), compounding can work its magic for you and can be another way to build wealth.
  6. Be a giver.  Our money and time are precious resources, in my view. That said, it’s often good to think of the bigger picture, and what it all means.  Helping others and being generous can be beneficial for both the giver and the recipient.  While of course we need to have boundaries, and don’t want anyone taking advantage of us, we also have the opportunity to really make a difference simply by showing some genuine caring and generosity to those in need.  The payback is there, in one form or another.

My Questions for You:

Do you follow any of these tips?

Which do you like best? Or, disagree with?

Do you have any other tips to share?

This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance at NerdWallet.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Edward Antrobus September 3, 2012 at 8:37 am

The problem with number 1 is that saving money is much easier than making money. Making more money depends on convincing someone to give it to you, which is something I seem to be quite bad at. Frugality depends on no-one but me.

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TTMK September 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Edward – I know what you mean, though if we don’t earn that money and get it from others, we won’t have much opportunity to save!

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Paul @ The Frugal Toad September 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Anyone can reduce their living expenses with near immediate results whereas earning money is much more difficult to achieve. I agree that it is important to increase your earning potential but you need to learn how to hang on to the money you’ve already got!

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TTMK September 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Paul – agree, we must learn how to hang on to the money that we already have. Saving is very, very important. As is investing, asset allocation, etc. However, if we don’t earn money and at least protect that income stream, we can’t save. But yes, we do need to focus on savings too.

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Emily @ evolvingPF September 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I definitely follow 2 and 4-6. 3 is an ongoing lesson, I think, and it depends on your income and life set-up at different stages. 1 I definitely don’t follow. I’m in grad school so 1) my income is totally fixed and 2) I’m not allowed any outside employment. Pretty much ties my hands unless I monetize a “hobby” – not sure when a hobby becomes a job, though, in the opinion of my employer. You can bet that I’m mentally gearing up for negotiating my compensation at my first post-PhD job!

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TTMK September 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Emily – I’m sure that will be great to get that post-PhD job and have that experience of negotiating!

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Barbara Friedberg September 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I like them all but #1. You need to focus on saving and making money. Otherwise it is way too easy to spend everything you earn.

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TTMK September 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Barb – As for #1, maybe I wasn’t as clear as I could have been. I DO believe that saving is important. Very important, of course. However, I think that some people are so consumed with saving, that they don’t realize that transferring some of that time and energy to building a career or side business could be better for them in the long run. It comes down to the idea that while saving is certainly important, we can’t save money if we aren’t making money in the first place!

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SB @One Cent at a Time September 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Oh carefully chosen ones! We bloggers can count 100s of tips choosing a few is a difficult task.

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TTMK September 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm

SB – yes, there are so many tips one can choose from. These 6 were the ones that came to mind as what I wanted to share for a variety of reasons.

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Kathleen @ Frugal Portland September 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

This is the best list I’ve seen! You can only save so much, but your earning potential is unlimited. I like number one the best. Although maybe people are worried that it’s the first one on your list? If the rest of your list is set up correctly, and you’re saving, and thinking long term, then once you earn more, you know EXACTLY what to do with the extras!

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TTMK September 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Kathleen – thanks, I appreciate the nice words!

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MoneyAfterGrad September 5, 2012 at 10:39 am

I definitely am already thinking long-term, and saving early. Although I have some debts to pay off, I have already begun to plan for retirement, and get some sort of game plan together to make it easier on myself in the future.

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TTMK September 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

MoneyAfterGrad – great to see you’re taking that approach. Early planning and a gameplan could be a big help with quality of life much later.

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Elizabeth @ Simple Finance September 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I think I identify with #3 the most – America is such a consumer-driven culture that we really believe we “need” a luxury car, designer clothes, a bigger house. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that those are just wants; what we really need is basic food, shelter, medical care.

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TTMK September 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Elizabeth – agreed, sometimes we do need to be reminded!

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Jeremiah August 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I appreciate the fact that you included giving on this list. It is really difficult at times to include giving in a personal budget, but I believe that giving helps a person to keep perspective.

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TTMK August 28, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Thanks Jeremiah, I agree with you

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