29 of the best personal finance tips for beginners and beyond – Ladders

If you search the Internet, you’ll find a lot of various personal finance tips available.

So why is this post any different?

Well, for one this is a collection of the very best ones that beginners really need to know. I’ve seen posts with like 75+ tips and I’ve seen articles with like 10 very general tips.

Certainly not a knock on those articles, but I wanted to write one more focused on the must-haves. But also, these were ones I really grasped towards in my own journey.

And secondly, all of these tips are things I started doing in late 2014 and really were key into how my financial life has changed.

How have these tips helped me? I self-manage my investments, have a 60+% savings rate, improved my career worth and salary, and much more. If you are interested, you can dive into my about page here.

Ready to get started? These 29 personal finance tips below blend various categories of finances like budgeting, saving, investing, and more.

1. You may not want to do it, but create a simple budget

If you have not created a budget, even in a spreadsheet, DO IT. By no means am I a fan of obsessing over my budget, but when you are first starting out you need to do this. It gives you the big picture of how you are spending, what income you are bringing in, etc.

Visualizing and seeing these numbers can help you catch issues or make your eyes pop from some rough-looking numbers. But like I said, DON’T OBSESS OVER THIS.

2. To understand your finances, you have to track your net worth

Similar to a budget, it’s important you calculate your net worth, no matter how ugly it might be. The difference between this and budgeting? I actually look at my net worth monthly. It also can keep you on track and help you visualize where you are financially.

There are some cool apps and online tools to simplify this process like Mint and my favorite, Personal Capital. ALSO, DON’T OBSESS OVER THIS.

3. Write down all your Debt – even if it’s REALLY bad

Now, your budget and net worth might give you some insight, but I like all my current debt down separately. Not only the total amounts but interest rates, amount of the minimum payments, loan length, etc. It helped me organize what should be paid first, if I should make extra payments, and beyond.

Nothing like seeing close to $50,000 in debt when you have $1,000 only in the bank, but that opened my eyes a bit more.

4. Cut back your lifestyle if inflated – LBYM

LBYM, or live below your means. Such a simple concept, yet most of us do not practice it well. If you have a limited salary and high debt, by no means should you be upgrading to a brand new car, getting an expensive apartment, going out to eat every day, etc.

With social media, trying to keep up with friends and our consumer mentality, we fall into a trap of overspending on things we don’t really need to keep up appearances.

It’s okay to live comfortably, but don’t live beyond your means.

5. Get the low down on your credit score and credit report

Understanding your credit scores and credit report is another important personal finance tip for beginners. Credit Sesame is free and doesn’t hurt your score to look at your reports. But, this can help you catch mistakes, overdue bills, info about your loans, and just overall how your score is doing.

If your score is really low, start work on improving this number. It can affect you getting future car loans, mortgages, apartments, and affects what kind of interest rate you might get. I’m not necessarily a fan of how credit report companies operate, but it’s still good to have a score above 700.

6. Create a savings plan (and stick to it)

How original! I know, I know! But it needs to be said. When just getting started with your personal finances, you need to create a savings plan and actually stick to it. Many times you get a rhythm going, then you slowly get a little lazy. Don’t! This is how you fall back into old non-savings habits.

I used a spreadsheet that laid it all out with how much cash should be going towards savings and investments.

7. Start paying yourself first

This philosophy has been around for some time now, but I didn’t really come across it until reading the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Sounds somewhat controversial, but having this mindset will keep you on your savings targets.

Too many times you pay everything else first, then by the end of the month, there is hardly anything for you to save. If you reverse the roles, you are more money-conscious to pay your bills on time and reduce frivolous spending.

8. Separate your savings from checking account

You’d be surprised how many people do not do this. But a simple personal finance tip, move what you want to save to a separate account.

Whether that is a savings account at the same bank or a different bank where you don’t touch the money unless for emergencies. I like the online savings builder account from CIT Bank, which has 2.3% interest on your money.

9. Spend 1-3 Hours Per Week Reading About Finances and Investing

If you want to learn how to take control of your finances, you need to read. Doesn’t matter if this is books, blogs, or other well-known publications. Just a few hours a week can change your financial life. I got in this habit in late 2014 and continue this habit today. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn in a short amount of time.

10. Your financial education is on YOU

Harshest one out of all the personal finance tips? Maybe, but it also is the truth

No one is generally going to hold your hand and show you how to succeed with your personal finance

This is on you to take action and change your financial health. It will be up to you to start learning and spend time on how finances work. You can do it!

11. Yes, you need to make more money

We all hear about budgeting, cutting back, and be mindful of your spending. But at some point, you hit a wall. You need to increase your salary and make more money.

In your job, find ways to increase your skills, take on more, learn in your spare time. Ask for a raise, know your career worth, and hustle to get the salary you deserve. It won’t be easy, but it’s necessary.

12. Use money and budgeting apps to stay organized

As a finance beginner and even expert, you should use some sort of money or budget app. These can organize everything into one big picture for you. Apps like Personal Capital, Mint, You Need A Budget, etc. can keep you focused on financial goals and monitor your spending.

13. Invest in yourself before anything else

Before you get crazy with investing any of your money, invest in yourself. Whether that is your financial education, taking classes, buying courses or books, starting a side hustle to make extra cash, etc.

The best asset you have is yourself.

14. Understand key investing terms (compound interest, dollar-cost averaging)

Two important investing keywords you should live and breath is compound interest and dollar-cost averaging. These are important to understanding how to put your money to work as well as investing for retirement. If you are looking for some you should know, this post is for you.

15. Start a side hustle to elevate your income and reduce debt

Sometimes, increasing your job’s salary will be really hard or time-consuming. That’s okay, you can start a side hustle. Many will also take time, but others you can quickly start doing. Think flipping things on eBay, cutting grass, etc. Whatever it is, this extra cash can help you save more and pay the debt down faster.

16. Invest in assets, not liabilities (and know the difference)

This is probably confusing to most people and what we were taught were assets, are actually liabilities in some cases. It’s important to understand these when it comes to investing. This short video from Robert Kiyosaki explains it:

17. Don’t compare yourself to others financially, focus on you

We get to wrapped up in comparing our own financial status to those around us. Whether friends, family, or others in our age group. We all have different situations and not everything you see is as glamorous below the surface. Don’t compare yourself to others. Stay focused on your progress and don’t worry about the Joneses.

18. Understand how credit cards work and don’t get into crazy debt

Building good credit and using credit cards is important.

But it’s more important to understand how they work and ensure you don’t go into debt. It can happen much easier than you think. Learn more about using credit cards and debit cards here.

19. Avoid complacency in your career, know your worth

If you are in a career slump or feel like it’s going nowhere then take action. It’s easy to complain and be complacent with mediocrity. I ran into this issue and felt that way for three years before I was laid off. You leave money, happiness, and professional growth on the table. Don’t wait to make changes.

20. Lose the, “I’ll Worry About It Later” Mentality:

With investing and saving for retirement, you can miss years of compound interest, costing you thousands of dollars and even years off your retirement.

The later you start, the more you have to save and the more you hope you are prepared. This applies to anything money-related. Just start ASAP.

21. Re-evaluate your personal finance goals every year

Out of all the personal finance tips here, one that should stick to your mind is to re-evaluate your goals. Something you started doing in personal finances before, might be different from where you are a year later, two years later, etc. It might also be the same still too.

Either way, it’s important to look at your financial goals, what you accomplished, or where life is taking you. Don’t get complacent or let your financial motivation slip through the cracks.

22. Learn your investing options outside of the stock market

When it comes to investing, most people look to the stock market. Great place for your retirement to grow, but you have more options to diversify and build wealth.

Once you have a good foundation look into other areas to diversify like real estate, art, businesses, peer-to-peer lending, etc. Remember, always do your research before investing money.

23. Don’t immediately purchase something, sleep on it

Cutting back on expenses is, of course, a great way to save money. But I think the challenge is when we see something we want, we buy it. Even if we don’t necessarily need it, we just feel a desire to have it.

A simple way to solve this is always to sleep on that purchase or wait a few days. 9/10 the next day or after that waiting period, you’ll realize you don’t need it and it makes your pockets happy.

24. Treat yourself wisely, buy experiences over materials

Spending some money on yourself is totally fine. I’ve never fully believed in extreme frugality.But instead of buying material things that only provide temporary happiness, spend it on experiences instead. Like traveling and other adventures that will create lifetime memories.

25. If You Get A Decent Raise or Job With Higher Salary, Don’t Increase Your Lifestyle

Most people get small raises yearly, probably not enough to really impact your lifestyle.

But let’s say you got a nice raise or a new job with a significant increase in pay. Many start upgrading their cars, houses, or other expensive things. Resist!

It’s okay to treat yourself but use this opportunity to be wise and kick your debt to the curb, increase savings, or invest in retirement. Avoid lifestyle inflation.

26. Don’t be afraid to discuss finances with your significant other or kids

Money and finances are a tricky thing to discuss with your significant other or kids. But the more open and honest you can be, the more you’ll learn to not be afraid of your finances. It’s a great way to learn, work together, and encourage.

27. Pay attention to fees when investing

Things like account maintenance fees, index funds or mutual funds management fees, rollover fees, etc. All financial institutions have some fees on their funds and accounts, your job is to eliminate ones with the highest fees. Because over time, those kill your returns and investments.

28. Learn how to be frugal, not cheap

Why I’m not a huge frugal person, it’s good to understand what this means. It also carries a big difference from being cheap. Being cheap is about spending less no matter what and focusing on how to always pinch pennies. Where being frugal is about prioritizing your spending, so you have more of the things that matter or what is most important.

29. Take a deep breath, and go at your own pace

There are a lot of personal finance tips on this list. Don’t get overwhelmed, take a deep breath, and work at your own pace. It may seem confusing, but the material is much easy when you set a pace. Don’t rush the process, your finances will thank you.

I hope these 29 personal finance tips will help you on your journey.

This article first appeared on Invested Wallet.

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