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BronxLens's avatar

Best knowledge to have for managing ones personal finances?

Asked by BronxLens (1539points) August 26th, 2008

Please share websites, books, seminars, rules of thumb, principles, etc. that you know offer practical solutions. For example, I like the website of
The Motley Fool

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8 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Don’t spend more than you have. Simple.

oh and try to save something every month.

bodyhead's avatar

Build credit by using a credit card but pay the balance in full every month. And like Lightlyseared said, don’t spend more (even on a credit card) then you actually have in the bank. That way if you do eventually need to get a loan for a house, you will have both credit and good financial know-how.

tedibear's avatar

Save a portion of your salary in various ways. Have an easy to access savings/money market account, a more difficult to access acount such as something through a brokerage, and of course, retirement savings. Even if you only can save $20 a month, DO IT! Direct transfer out of your checking and into these savings plans is the least painful way to go.

Bodyhead gave you excellent advice regarding credit cards. If you don’t have it in your checking account – or won’t before the bill is due – don’t buy it! And pay it off every month. No sense giving away your money if you don’t have to.

ljs22's avatar

My dad always said “debt is never your friend.” He retired at 56 in very good shape, so I took it to heart. For practical purposes, this means pay off school loans and car loans and credit cards ASAP. Go without cable tv, go without a gym membership, get water with dinner instead of $9 martinis. If you make $30,000 a year, do not own a $15,000 vehicle and $200 jeans. Own a $5,000 one and $25 jeans. It sounds unfun, but banking and investing money when you’re young makes you feel good, because eventually you’ll be able to do something meaningful with the wealth. And you’ll sleep better at night.

cwilbur's avatar

Understand how compound interest works. Work at it until you really understand it.

shilolo's avatar

All of these are excellent points. For more information, this website breaks down important issues into easy-to-read lessons. My biggest piece of advice is to start saving as early (read, young) as you possibly can. As cwilbur said, the virtues of compounding are huge. Saving even a small amount at age 20 will grow into a large amount at 60. Conversely, if you wait until you are 55 to save for retirement, you’ve lost years of compounding that you cannot regain.

Snoopy's avatar

Avoid debt. Spend less than you earn. Save and start early.

All EXCELLENT advice. And honestly, if you stick to these three pillars you will serve yourself extremely well.

To expand on this and reinforce it…..Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey are two who beat the same drum. They are not affiliated w/ each other but give consistent, basic financial advice. Both have one or more of the following: seminars, books, TV, print, radio and websites.

Personal Finance for Dummies (one of the Dummies books series) also gives good basic info and advice.

jvgr's avatar

You can’t avoid debt unless you are independently wealthy, and when you need to borrow (ie mortgage) you will get a better rate if your credit rating is good rather than non-existent.

Get 1 national/international credit card (visa…) that has no fee attached to it.
Only use it to buy things you already have the money for and when you get the bill pay it on time and always in full; never carry a balance.

Make a good budget (if you have xcel, it’s a breeze because the math is automatic.
All budget items need to reflect the same time period, usually monthly.
Each category should have a specific type of spending.
Insurance (house or tenant)
Phone 1
Phone 2
Eat Out/Take Out
George Weekly (for small personal incidentals like cup of coffee, gum or other minor things you might consume during your work-time. Could also include bus/train tickets if they are irregular)
Martha Weekly
Christmas (who for and how much)
Birthday (same)
Life: George
Life: Martha
Don’t have generic categories like “cash” or “stuff” or “misc”.
One category should be Retirement
One should be Emergency Savings
One should be Long Term Savings (for known future things like new car, or…)

If you have a program like Quicken, you are further ahead, because you can easily track your progress.

Ultimately, Your spending/saving budget has to equal your income. Use your take home pay as the income.

Salary is usually paid every 2 weeks, so the MONTHLY equivalent is (salary/2) x 4.33
Weekly expenses would be multiplied x 4.33 to get the MONTHLY.

Assuming you are young, you might not be in a position to put much into a retirement savings slot, but you must, and it is ESSENTIAL that you build up funds in the emergency account. Your goal for emergency savings should be the amount required for you to live 6 months without any income. Once you reach that goal, start putting more money in the retirement and stop the emergency account.

It’s best to keep your Retirement Account and Your Emergency Accounts in money market funds that your bank likely sells. If they are coordinated with your checking account, you can add to them on-line as transfers. They will get more interest than any checking/savings account and they cost nothing to buy and have no fees.

And if you have children, you’ll need to have Educational accounts for, at least their college funds.

You might also look for places that offer completely free checking/savings accounts with free ATM use. These fees nickel and dime you to death (by the way, if you do have monthly bank related fees, then that is another budget item.

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