As a millennial college student who is getting her bearings in the world, I have collected quite a few personal finance tips over the years. It’s a topic I regularly read up on and one that consumes my life. I think learning as much as you can about managing money and attracting wealth is important no matter what stage of life you’re in, especially since finances are a big part of everyone’s life.
I’ve already seen a huge difference these tips have made in my life and I can’t wait to share them with you. So with that being said, here is a list of my top personal finance tips.
Personal Finance Tips That’ll Make You Rich
If you learn how to budget now, then you are already ahead of the game. Learning good financial habits now will serve you well into the future.
Budgets are great because they allow you to be mindful about your income and what you’re spending your money on. It lays out exactly how much you can spend in each category, how much you can save to reach a certain goal, what areas need to be analyzed, etc.
I know that budgets may seem boring and tedious, but I promise it gets easier once you’ve done it for a while.
I use a monthly printable and a digital service to manage my finances. I basically look at my bank statements each month, split my expenses into categories, analyze what I spent, and see where I can make cuts. Make sure to plan out exactly how much you want to spend and save each month and examine areas where you can reduce your spending.
Pay Yourself FIRST
What does this even mean?
It means saving money right when you’re paid instead of spending first. In other words, the first bill you pay each month should be to yourself. Put it into your 401k or a savings account. By paying yourself first, you make saving a priority over anything else and you’re prepared if any emergencies arise.
Never use credit cards
Okay, maybe not never, but definitely don’t use credit cards if you know you can’t be responsible with them. I personally don’t think highly of credit cards because it’s too tempting to buy everything under the sun and easy to forget to pay them back, or worse, get yourself in a trap where you can never pay them off. And, why would you spend money you don’t have to buy stuff you can’t afford?
In my mind, there isn’t a good reason to use credit cards unless you repay them in full every month and use them in smart ways, like for travel reward points for instance. I have never owned a credit card and don’t plan to anytime soon. I obtain credit through continuously paying off my student loan debt.
Overall, I would advise you to pay with cash whenever you possibly can. That way you hold yourself accountable and have a much harder time going into debt in the first place.
Build an emergency fund
Dave Ramsey suggests putting $1,000 in your emergency fund account to start, although if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck then that can be very hard to achieve. I would suggest putting in as much as you can afford every month until you reach your target amount. You can also take on some side jobs to help build your emergency fund faster.
Pro-tip: Automate a certain percentage of your paycheck to go into your emergency fund every month. You’ll be surprised by how much you saved by the end of the year.
Learn how to invest
I don’t suggest investing in the stock market yet unless you really know what you’re doing. But, you can invest in other things like real estate, rental properties, bitcoin, retirement and the list goes on. Investing could also mean simply buying resources that will help improve your business like courses, books, or services. Investing in yourself is so important if you want to make more money.
If you need help tracking your investments, Personal Capital is a great financial management tool that I highly recommend. It’s basically two services combined into one — a free financial tracking tool and a paid financial advisory service. You can track your net worth, your cash flow, your portfolio, your investments, and more.
A feature I really like that sets Personal Capital apart from some of the other services I’ve seen is that it has a free retirement planner so you never again have to wonder whether or not you have enough saved for retirement. Also, it’s really flexible, taking into account possible variables that may affect your goals, and providing you a personal evaluation to see if you’re on track.
Choose your bank wisely
I think it’s important to evaluate any financial institution before you join because money is an important matter that should be taken seriously.
Personally, I use a credit union and I love it. The people at the credit union I use are so helpful and keep my best interests in mind.
Here are some reasons why I switched from a regular bank to a credit union:
- They have lower fees, small dividends, discounted loan rates, lower overdraft fees and other member benefits.
- They are not-for-profit unions, thereby putting an emphasis on serving members rather than maximizing profits
- They offer more flexibility and are willing to work with you if you have issues
- There are no hidden fees
Find what’s best for you and choose very carefully. Make sure to pick somewhere that doesn’t have hidden fees because they sneak up on you, and the next thing you know, you’re in a sticky situation. You don’t want that to be you, so be smart about it now.
Set savings goals
It’s so much easier (and funner) to save money when you have a goal in mind. Seeing my account grow each month has been a good motivator for me to find many different and sometimes unconventional ways to save. I often make a competition out of it, seeing if I can save more than the previous month.
Good savings goals to have:
- Saving for the holidays
- Saving to buy a house
- Earn enough to leave your job
- Saving enough to pay off debt – student loans, car, house
- Saving $100 then $1,000 then $10,000
- Saving a certain percentage of your paycheck each month in an emergency fund
I keep a notebook with me where I write down all of my monthly savings goals in a checklist. Every time I reach a new goal amount, I’ll reward myself which gives me an incentive to one-up myself the next time. This way, I am continuously making progress on my savings and never getting burnt out.
Refinance your student loans
Student loan refinancing is a great decision that allows you to lower your interest rate on your student loans. Although it can be a long and complicated process, it’s worth it because it helps you pay off your student loans quicker.
By refinancing your student loans, you obtain lower monthly payments, lower interest rates, and more benefits.
Also, a lot of companies charge no fees to apply and get a quote, so it’s definitely worth looking into.
Start a side-hustle
If you want to make extra money, start with a side-hustle (a job on the side of your regular job). There are so many options for side hustles you could do. My favorite is blogging because I get to do what I love and it makes as much as a full-time job. Whether you want to get out of debt, save money or just pay your bills, side-hustles can change your finances for the better.
Get out of debt
It’s definitely easier said then done.
There are a variety of reasons you may be in debt like paying for student loans, a mortgage, etc. In many ways this can be considered “good” debt because you’re putting money towards your future. Like going to college can lead to job opportunities which can lead to buying your first home.
Then there is “bad” debt, such as car loans, financing furniture, credit card debt, etc. which often comes with high interest rates and takes many years to pay off. A lot of people get into these situations because they try to live well beyond their means, racking up credit card debt in the process.
This along with mortgages, car payments and student loans can add up very quickly, leading you into a debt snowball. Whatever debt you have, you should always be responsible with your borrowing, live within your means, try to pay more than the minimum when paying it back, and find ways to do it faster.
When looking at all your debt as a whole, it can be very overwhelming, leaving you feeling like you will never pay it off. Maybe you even brush it off and try not to think about it.
But, you must to do everything you can to pay it off regularly or else it lingers over you. Take a deep breath and tackle one area of debt at a time. To pay it off faster, you could always create a side-hustle (like blogging for instance), pick up a work from home job, or find small part time jobs to make some extra money.
Dave Ramsey said it best:
“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”
Here are some quick tips to help you get out of debt:
- Evaluate your debt: Calculate the total amount of debt you have and get organized.
- Set a goal: Make a goal and hard deadline of when you plan to be debt free.
- Make paying off debt your top priority: Prioritize paying off debt above everything else. Avoid anything that can make you get into more debt and try to pay off more than the minimum amount whenever you can so you pay it off faster. If you have to, pick up a side-hustle or part-time job.
- Automate your payments: This will make paying it off so much easier – you won’t even have to think of it.
- Create a clear budget: This will help you get your finances in order and figure out exactly how much you need to pay for how long before you get your debt completely paid off. If you’re serious about paying off debt, budgeting is a must!
- Spend less than you earn: Doing so will keep you from living paycheck to paycheck and avoid the debt snowball.
Before you go, check out my free resource library to get access to a ton of freebies from weekly planners to budget printables and more – updated weekly.
What’s the best financial advice you’ve ever heard? How did it improve your life?