Before every financial decision you make, you have to ask yourself, “Does it make sense?”.
In the world of personal finance, what makes sense for one may not make sense for the other.
Several factors will play into the final decision. Today’s collection is 107 (with two bonus) things that make good financial “cents”.
Most everything here can be applied to anybody and at any point in their lives. Happy reading!
Healthy List of What Makes Good Financial Cents….
1. You Need A Budget, period. Until you see your budget on paper, you’ll never have a full understanding of where your money is going. I assure you that setting up a budget is easier than you think.
2. Use The Budget. Following a budget helps you live according to your financial goals. By setting spending and saving goals, and adhering to them, you can make sure your money is working for you, rather than you being a slave to your (lack of) money.
3. Before you can get out of debt, you need a positive cash flow. Having a positive cash flow takes some work, but everyone can do it — including you! Start by reading this guide on how to Earn More and Spend Less, and start working your way toward financial freedom today.
4. Pay Yourself First and Last. The concept will make the average person wealthy with time. Pay yourself by investing, by funding your retirement, and by growing your emergency fund. Be sure to pay yourself last, too.
5. Have a Sufficient Emergency Fund. A well stocked emergency fund can help reduce your risk of financial catastrophe. Always expect the unexpected.
6. Implement Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball. Having a mountain of debt can leave you feeling discouraged. Implementing the debt snowball plan can give you hope as you take your baby steps towards financial freedom.
7. Implement Debt Snowflaking. If doing a debt snowball doesn’t work, then consider debt snowflaking. It’s a similar premise with the same end result- being debt free!
8. Do A Balance Transfer. If your credit card just jacked up your interest rate, consider doing a 0% APR balance transfer. It could save you hundreds of dollars in interest every month!
9. Pay off the Credit Cards. It’s easier to keep track of your credit cards interest rates when there isn’t a balance. Make strides to become debt free by paying off your credit cards.
10. Fix Your Credit Report. Many credit reports have a few errors. It’s not that difficult to fix your credit report whether the error is caused from financial institution error or fraud.
11. Don’t Underestimate Your Credit Score. The good thing is that you don’t have to spend any money to improve your credit score or repair your credit (despite what some advertisements may lead you to believe). You can easily get your free credit score and report card. This report will help you better understand how credit score works and how to improve yours.
12. Don’t Wreck Your Credit. Your credit is one of the most important aspects of your life. Be conscience of it and definitely don’t take it for granted. Avoid these 7 things to keep your credit in check.
13. Use coupons. I love coupons and other ways to save money. You can often find coupons on the back of your receipts or find online savings at places like Ebates. Using coupons frequently could save you thousands of dollars a year.
14. Practice Frugality. Why are you frugal? Are you frugal because you are trying to get out of debt? Or save for a down payment? Or just to put food on the table for your family? Frugality is a means to an end. Not the end itself.
15. Automate Your Finances. Results are achieved my automation. Paying off a credit card, funding your emergency fund, or contributing to your IRA can all be done automatically and prevent you from coming up with another excuse.
16. Stay Focused On Your Goals. Focusing on paying off debt can lead to great results, but sometimes you may find you lose your focus. Sometimes it is a struggle and you have to remind yourself what the end result is.
17. Delay gratification. Want the newest and the best? Who doesn’t? You can save a lot of money and feel better about your purchase if you are willing to delay gratification and wait until the price drops or you can afford it.
18. Discerning Luxury from Necessity. Learn to recognize wants versus needs. Do you need it….or do you REALLY want it? For a majority of the time, it is usually the latter.
19. Don’t Envy Debt. Just because somebody has the nicest things doesn’t mean that they own them. Being envious of other people’s debt will put you in the same trap that they are in.
20. Recognize When Enough is Enough. Are you working extra hard to buy extra stuff that you don’t actually need? How many hours of your working day go towards unnecessary expenses? Then maybe it’s time to realize that you have enough.
21. Spending to Save. Sometimes you need to spend money to save in the long run. Saving is the latest frugality trend.
22. Pay More For Quality (in certain situations). Paying a little more for a higher quality product may save you from having to replace it sooner. Don’t mistake quality with name brands though. Do your homework and make sure it’s worth the extra expense.
23. Good Shopping Habits Make Cents. Researching your purchases could wind up saving you a small fortune in either purchase price or repair savings. Through the combination of deal finding sites, company research tools, and product review sites, you can narrow down your intended purchase to the product that makes the most sense.
24. Use Good Judgement When Making Purchases. Sometimes you feel the urge to buy something expensive, but often it makes more frugal sense to set goals and delay gratification.
25. Avoid ATM Fees to Save Cash. ATM fees are a tax on convenience. What better way to save money than to just avoid ATM Fees altogether?
26. Save on Gas. Gas prices are above $2 per gallon and anything less is not sustainable. By keeping track of your cars gas mileage, and thus your cars cost per mile, you can be more conscious of your driving decision and save money on gas.
27. Save Money On your Cell Phone Bill. Do you really need a Crack BlackBerry or the iPhone? If your cell phone bill is as much as a car payment, it’s time to cut back. Don’t waste money on your cell phone bill.
28. Bring Your Lunch To Work. Brown-bagging your lunch each day can add up hundreds of dollars of savings a month. Don’t become a hermit, though. Find some frugal friends to brown bag it with you.
29. Rent Before You Buy. If you save and invest properly then you can rent and do just as well as a homeowner (or better).
30. Shop For the Best Mortgage Rates. The difference between a 5% loan and a 5.5% loan is only 1/2%. But you stretch that over a 30 year life on a $200.000 mortgage, 1/2% can equal tens of thousands of dollars. Be sure to shop around and find the best mortgage rate possible.
31. Buy a Home. If you’re financially able, it’s time to live the American Dream. Make sure you have the right motives on being a homeowner.
32. Don’t blindly follow financial rules of thumb. Your mortgage payments will determine how affordable your house is. A large down payment is preferable but if the payments are ok then zero down payment on a house is just fine.
33. Pay off your house. Pay off Your Mortgage for a guaranteed return on your money. Plus, you don’t pay taxes on the free shelter services you receive. One of the biggest advantages of paying off your mortgage early is peace of mind. Once you’ve paid it off, you’ll wake up every morning and fall asleep every night knowing that the roof over your head is 100% yours. For many people, you can’t put a price on that sort of security.
34. Buying a used car instead of new. Buying used will save you thousands immediately vs. buying a new. There are a few things to consider when buying a used car. You should try and get a record of all maintenance on the vehicle and also some info on the previous owner. A little information should reveal what kind of care was taken on the vehicle.
35. Stay Away From Extended Warranties. When buying things don’t buy extended warranties, but don’t forget to take advantage of free manufacturer’s warranties.
36. Buy in Bulk. Get to know your grocery list and take advantage of warehouse stores. Find ways to save by buying in bulk to stretch your dollar.
37. Barter. With bartering you offer goods or services in exchange for…goods or services. If you have an extra bike, but want a nice backpack, you might be able to find someone who wants a bike but has an extra backpack. You can swap. The same is true of services.
38. Perform Home Maintenance Tasks. Besides hospital bills, there isn’t a bigger budget killer than a major home repair. Performing simple home maintenance tasks will increase the life of our home and it’s appliances and keep your budget on track.
39. Research Your Vehicle Expenses. Save Money on Car Repairs by accessing fair and reasonable repair cost estimates online. It’s easier than ever to find out if you’re being cheated.
40. Don’t be Consumed by Your Bills. Look at Bills, Pay the Bills, Forget about Bills and then move on. There are far too many good things in life to be consumed.
41. Make More than the Minimum Payment. Paying extra towards your loans now, goes a long way later!
42. Go Green, but Do it Cheaply. Going green is becoming contagious. If you decide to go green, make sure you do it cost effectively.
43. Don’t count all your eggs before they’ve hatched. Paper gains are only paper gains until you sell them and make them real; likewise, it’s cash flow today that counts, not 10 years from now. So always pay attention to what your money is doing for you *today*, not what it might do for you far off in the future.
44. Have a Garage Sale. The stuff you can’t sell online, you could sell from your garage on the weekends. You can make some good extra cash and free up tons of storage space by doing this.
45. Start a Garden. You can be self-sustaining just as our ancestors by growing your own vegetables. Not to mention that growing your garden is cheaper too!
46. Stop buying crap. You need this, you want that, oh, how about this too? We’re all guilty of buying useless stuff in the moment and forgetting about it as soon as we get home. Figuring out how to stop buying crap will free you from financial burdens as well as mental ones as well.
47. Don’t be a Control Freak. Having your hand in everything causes you stress and can even hurt you financially. When you can let go of some of your control, it helps create a balance in your life and frees you from being affected by life’s little noises.
48. Manage Your Finances Online. Being able to keep track of all your finances online will have them in one central location which will free up time and help organize your life. There are plenty of online resources for improving your financial health.
49. Set up Reminders to Pay Your Bills. Ever find that with everything going on in your life you forget about a bill and miss it’s due date? One way that can prevented is to set up a Google Calendar to set up due date reminders.
50. Get Rid of Your Clutter and Get Organized. Don’t be hindered by a world of clutter. Get organized and let your creativity flow.
51. Be a Savvy Traveler. If traveling is in your blood, but not quite in your budget, then you need to implement travel hacking to save on every aspect of your adventurous journeys.
54. Sign Up For Longer Subscriptions. Sometimes it is worth it to look at lifetime (or even annual) subscriptions. Example: If you and your family of 4 intend to visit the local zoo a few times per year, a lifetime membership could pay for itself after 5 years (or 17 visits) without accounting for price hikes.
55. Research Your Flights. You can save a ton of money on airfare. However, it isn’t always the best idea to just look at travel aggregators. You also need to look at the airline websites, account for the time of year, the time until the trip, the day, and more.
56. Shop Around For Your Health Care.Being a Comparison Shopper for Health Care Services can stand to keep hundreds of dollars in your pockets. There are online resources to determine if the quoted cost of the medical test or procedure you need is reasonable. Check in advance.
57. Use Technology to Get Rid of Cable . There are a ton of options to get rid of cable using technology nowadays. You could hook your computer up to your TV, stream to your TV from your computer through an Xbox 360 or PS3, or stream to your TV from Hulu and other video sites through an Xbox 360 or PS3.Satellite and cable bills are soaring and getting TV for free is a pretty sweet deal.
58. When “Free” Things Aren’t Free: Beware of the Hidden and Indirect Costs. Not all free things are by definition “free”if they cost you in other ways. Be sure to read the fine print and understand what you are getting yourself into.
59. Understand Your FICO Score. You always hear about improving your FICO score, but how do you improve something you don’t understand. It’s important to understand the basics of your FICO score so that you can improve it and more importantly not hurt it.
60. Protect Yourself from Identity Theft. Don’t become a victim of identity theft. Use vigilance to protect yourself and learn how to avoid identity theft. Easiest way to not become a victim? Prevent it from happening to you.
61. Go On a Diet. There are many reasons to go on a diet. Looking good and improving your health are some common reasons that most go on a diet. If you eat right, chances are you will have less visits to the doctors office. What’s that mean to you? Less co-pays and more money in your pocket.
62. Go to a Community College. Attending a community college is cheaper, allows you to figure what direction you want to go in, and will help ease your way into university life. Besides, I went to a community college and see how I turned out? 🙂
63. Get an Internship. Interning with a company in your field will help you decide if that’s the career field for you. If during the internship you realize that may have made a mistake in your career choice, better to realize now than after you already received the diploma.
64. Join The Military. What other job guarantees a paycheck and benefits for you and your family? You got it – the military. Many people are well aware that the US military can be a dangerous profession, but there are also many benefits that people may not be aware of.
65. Get Your MBA. Getting a graduate degree is generally a great career move. However, picking an MBA program can be a daunting task. Use this checklist to help narrow down your choices.
66. Graduate Without Debt. Entering the workforce with a hundred thousand dollars in debt could provide a great wake up call, but you would be better off limiting the amount of debt you graduate with. By using savings vehicles, financial aid, and ways to reduce costs, you can do just that.
67. Learn From Others. Would you rather learn from somebody else’s mistakes or your own? Learning from someone else’s experience can prevent you from following in the same path.
68. Market Yourself Daily. Whether you realize it or not, everyday at your job is an opportunity to market yourself to your colleagues, superiors, clients and others. By understanding that the way you present and handle yourself in the workplace is what defines the type of worker people see you as and taking little steps to present yourself as a serious, confident, and capable worker and leader, you will increase your opportunities in the future for promotion and a higher salary.
69. Have a Backup Job. The term “layoff” has become so common that many expect that they might be next. But why wait until you get the axe? Start looking for a new job now, just to see what’s out there. Who knows. You might even find a better one than you have right now.
70. Never stop learning. You should always stay on top of your skills, including applying for an MBA program or completing professional licenses and certifications to increase your income.
71.Subscribe to a Personal Finance Blog. Whether it’s investing, budgeting or getting out of debt, it’s easier to lean on others for support, especially if that person has gone through it too. Find a personal finance blog that resonates what you are looking to achieve. It may help you achieve your goals sooner and more effectively.
72. Buy a Good Personal Finance/Motivational Book. There are plenty of great reads to help you save money, build wealth, plan for retirement, and help you get out of debt. A couple of my favorites include: I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover, 397 Ways to Save Money, 365 Ways to Live Cheap, 10,001 Ways To Live Large on a Small Budget, Career Renegade
73. Listen to Audio Books. Finding time to invest in yourself is smart, especially in today’s rocky job market. If you have a commute, as many do, listening to audiobooks is a straightforward way to make productive use of that time.
74. Know Your Worth. One of the best ways to analyze if you are being paid what you are worth is to use GlassDoor.com. Unlike a payscale, this does not give you an industry salary based on your job title. It allows you to search by company and find out what people in the same position earn. Knowledge is power, and that is never more true than when it comes to your salary.
75. Quit Your Job. Sometimes a part time job is not all its cracked up to be. Run the numbers and find out how much you really earn. If the numbers don’t add up, it may be time to quit.
76. Go back to school if you lose your job. If you get laid off from a dying industry then you might be better off in the long run to go back to school.
77. Marry a Rock Solid Spouse. If your spouse is not on board with your plan, then it’s not going to work. Communicate with your spouse what your goals are and how you can achieve them together. Have a spouse that likes to spend? Don’t worry. With a little work you’ll be able to convert them from a spender to a saver.
78. Avoid Bankruptcy Like the Plague. Bankruptcy will follow you everywhere you turn. Try to do your best to avoid it.
79. Teach Your Kids About Money. Bad habits start early, that’s why it’s imperative to give your children a strong foundation of basic money management skills. Before you teach then, do a self evaluation and make sure that you are not passing on your own bad money management skills.
80. Let Your Kids Pay Their Own Way Through College. Paying for you kids college will not help them succeed and could put you in a bigger hole financially. Your retirement should be the priority, then your kids college education.
81. Value Your Time. How much is your time worth to you? Time is our most precious asset. Don’t devalue it and quantify what your time means to you.
82. Know Your Net Worth. The calculation itself why be pointless, but always having a general understanding of the value of your net worth proves to be helpful in the financial planning process.
83. Know the Basics of Checking Accounts. All your money runs through your checking account. Nowadays a checking account has more fine print attached to it than HD TV’s. Make sure you understand the basics of your checking accounts to prevent unnecessary fees down the road.
84. Open an Online High Yield Savings Account. It’s hard enough to save as it is. Why let your savings waste away in a brick and mortar account that barely pays you interest? Opening up an online high yield savings account can help boost your savings in so many ways.
85. Use a CD Laddering Strategy. Try this different way of saving that gives you security, liquidity, and a higher interest earned on your cash: Create a CD ladder and in no time you’ll be saving like a pro. Trust me. Building a CD ladder is easier than you think.
86. Learn more about your investments. Most people spend more time programming their universal remote than learning about what investments they own. Nobody cares about your money (ie investments) like you do, so spend some time and figure out what you are invested in and why.
87. Have a Solid Financial Plan. Having a sound financial plan is key to being able to survive an emergency of any kind. When you have a plan, you’re going to be much more sure about where you are, and where you’re headed.
88. Write down your investment policy. Regardless of your investing style – writing down your investment policy statement is a great way to make sure you stay on track. It can be very simple or very complicated – it’s up to you.
89. Start Investing. You’ve done your research and you’ve written your investment policy statement. It’s now time to start investing.
90. Implement Proper Asset Allocation. When a deep recession hits, little is safe from being affected regardless of how well you are diversified. That’s why it is more important than ever to diversify beyond market sectors or brokerages.
91. Save for retirement. Saving for retirement is one of the most important things you can do. Should you invest in 401k or IRA? Always take the employer match if you have a 401k, otherwise consider a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA.
92. Open a Roth IRA. By far the best retirement planning tool ever. Opening a Roth IRA will give you tax free money at retirement. *
93. Contribute to Your 401k. Once your eligible, sign up for your company’s 401k plan. Contribute enough to at least get the match. If you can afford more, go for it.
94. Keep Funding Your 401k, No Matter What. It may seem like your 401k is going everywhere except for up, but if you stop funding it then you’ll definitely have no options at retirement. Whether your employer has a match or not, it doesn’t matter. You need to keep funding your 401k for retirement.
95. Avoid Talking Yourself out of Investing. One of the biggest obstacles to your financial goals is going to be the myths you encountered about investing; know the truth to set yourself (and your money) free!
96. Rolling Your 401k into an IRA. Whether you leave a job or retire, it will usually make sense to roll over your 401k into your own IRA. You’ll have greater control, more flexibility, and more investment options to choose from.
97. Buy life insurance. Most people need some life insurance and it is a good idea to research how much life insurance to buy. Most people recommend term life insurance, but there may be times when whole life insurance is not a bad idea.
98. There’s no stupid question, especially personal finance questions. The Internet is filled with great resources. If you look in the right places, you can even ask experts like Liz Weston, Larry Swedroe, and Steve Rhode for their advice. For example, you can ask your question on Moolanomy Answers and have your question answered by some of these experts, or even by a Certified Financial Planner™ like Jeff Rose- that’s me :).
99. Hire a Professional. When managing your own investments becomes too overwhelming, it might be time to hire a professional financial planner to assist. Be sure to do your homework, though and make sure you are hiring the right person for the job. Don’t know where to look? We might have to consult a secret society to find the right financial planner for you.
100. Do Not Chase Performance. Just because an investment is up 50% year to date, doesn’t mean it’s going to keep going up. Make sure whatever you invest into fits your goals and time horizon. Don’t let the performance tail wag the investment dog (or something like that…..)
101. Get Your Estate in Order. Often individuals are so concerned with building wealth of paying down debt they forget the importance of a valid will and power of attorney!
102. Keep Your Important Documents in a Safe. Having your important documents stored in a safe place, like a fire safe or safety deposit box is a good idea. You will want to keep your tax returns, life insurance policies, stock certificates, and anything else you want protected. Not sure how long to keep them? Be sure to check out my post on how long to keep your financial statements.
103. Know When To Outsource. There are only so many hours in the day that one can devote to their family, business, recreation, etc., and you need to determine how much time and effort you are willing to spend on your business. Outsourcing costs money. But so does time. In the long run, outsourcing may prove to be the least expensive and most efficient option.
104. Diversify Your Income Streams. Sole reliance on a single income source is a bit risky so check out some ways to make extra money in your spare time. It’s amazing what just a small increase in cash flow can do to your psyche, not to mention your retirement savings.
105. Create Your Own Stimulus Check. Getting lump sum checks are nice, but wouldn’t be nicer to have a stimulus check every month? Figuring out creative ways to create your own stimulus check will be beneficial and more reliable than the one you received from the government.
107. Donate To Charity. Chances are no matter how bad your situation is, there is somebody worse off. Be thoughtful of those in need and consider donating to a charity of your choice. Many people have excuses to not donate. Don’t be one of those people and let your philanthropic side out.
108. Pay off your double mortgage and get it refinanced so you’re making lower monthly payments.
109. Don’t Forget to Tithe. Before you pay yourself, you should willingly give to the reason why we all exist. You can’t earn your way to Heaven by giving and you won’t be excluded from Heaven by your lack of giving. Nonetheless, be sure to tithe.
What makes good financial “cents” to you?