A lot of people think I'm crazy…. that is, crazy obsessed with personal financial planning. I'm guilty of that and I'll say it out loud.
My family and I have experienced ups and down when it comes to finances.
Luckily, we survived, paid off the debt, and saved a ton of money in the process.
We paid off $40K and saved at least 200K in under 4 years while living on one low income of $31,000/year.
Quite an accomplishment, right?
Some of the things we learned include:
…. investing a little to make big bucks <— that's where we made the bulk of our $200K
…. making easy money from just about anything we do
…. choosing the “harder” right than the “easier” wrong <— that's where most people get lost
In this post, I will detail those best secret free personal finance lessons I've learned in my life even though these secret lessons aren't really secrets.
Note: These lessons are just are tips and tricks that people overlooked and don't put into action.
10+ Borderline Genius Personal Financial Planning Steps To Know Now
I think I am more than lucky to have learned some of the best financial planning lessons that one could learn.
Here are some of the best personal finance tips I have always followed in my life.
1. Choose the “harder” right than the “easier” wrong.
A lot of us like convenience and ease.
That's human nature.
You know what?
At times, these choices are not the right ones to make.
Here's one of the best financial planning examples:
When a business is failing and the only solution is to cut down the number of employees, it’s hard to make the call of letting people go. It’s hard, but it’s definitely the right thing to do.
Here's another good situation:
Most of us aren't used to investing and/or are afraid to invest in the stock market.
The truth is:
It’s hard to invest money when you are just starting out and have a lot of bills to pay (even though you can start investing just by using your pennies, and still own portion of a big company's share).
Investing money early on is the “harder” right and not investing early is somewhat but not entirely the “easier” wrong.
2. Remember time is gold; Make the most out of it.
I believe that time is gold. I have a day job and a family to take care of, play with, etc.
That's why, when I have free time, I still use it to make money on the side. #sidehustle
Some like to sell dress, art, etc. Some prefer to do other things.
For those who want to stay home and still make money, one great side hustle that's applicable to anybody is getting paid to share your thoughts.
You won’t get rich from it, but you could easily earn upwards of $500/month or more in your own spare time.
Some popular survey sites that pay cash include:
- Survey Club: One member made $4,000 in one month
- Ipsos: One made $20 in 1 hour
- Survey Junkie: Tia, a stay-home mom, made $615.56 on her spare time
If you have spare time, want to improve your personal finance, and don't have anything else important to do, don't you wanna get paid? I think you do.
3. Invest now even for a couple of cents.
Here's a fun fact:
If you invest $100/mo now over 10 years at 15% return, you'd have $24,770 in 10 years. You would've doubled your investment due to interest earned.
That's better than investing one $12K 10 years from now.
New investments apps allow you to invest cents – the thousands of dollars of initial investment requirement is gone.
One great investment app is Acorns.
Acorns lets you invest as little as $0.01. It rounds up your purchases and invests your money – when it reaches $5 – across 7,000 stocks and bonds while reducing risk.
I'm at $2,332 now, and it all started with investing cents 7 months ago. My rate of return? It's 12.5% return without me lifting a single finger.
Sign up and start with Acorns here and get your $5 sign-up bonus.
4. Negotiate to save money.
Almost anything can be negotiated. The worse thing somebody can tell you during negotiation is ‘No.'
Here's good news:
You don't have to do the legwork of negotiating when you're trying to cut your expenses down.
I recently found one of the easiest and clever financial planning tools. It's called Trim.
Trim analyzes your spending, find cashback deals for products and services, find subscriptions to cancel, negotiate your bills, etc.
Trim cut our on-contract Verizon phone bill by $16.75/mo. That's over $201/year. Last year alone, Trim subscribers saved over $1,000,000 with Trim.
Whether you use Trim or not, the key is to negotiate – Trim is just a personal finance tool to make negotiation painless and easy as much as possible.
5. Learn to adapt to changes (the old tricks may not work anymore).
Changes are the one thing that's constant. That's even true with financial planning.
Just because we lived on $150/mo budget doesn't mean we can do it again now.
Here's one for the adventurer like me:
I like to shake things up with my finances to see where I can make the most bang for my buck.
A year ago, I switched banks, ditched my Wells Fargo account, and went for a growing online bank called CIT Bank.
I told myself why not try it since it's FDIC-insured, has up to 2.14% in interest rate per year while banks pay close to 0%, doesn't charge maintenance fees and other charges, etc.
In turned out:
It was the right decision. In a year, my account earned over $1,000. That's free money.
Every year and moving forward, I'd make that even without lifting a single finger.
Our situations change and so do our finances. What worked in the past may not work this time around.
6. Focus where the money pit is.
Believe it or not:
401(k)s can be a money pit, too.
The reality is:
The average 401(k) fee is 1% per year. A few hundred dollars in fees can add up fast.
It looks small but over 20 or 30 years of investing and you're looking at a total of 6-figure investment fee.
There's a personal finance solution to that. It's called Blooom and it's my new found obsession.
It analyzes your 401(k) for FREE. It spots hidden fees, tells you if your portfolio is too aggressive, and finds out how much you could be missing out on by DIY-ing your 401(k).
A lot of its clients cut their hidden investment fees by 46%. Blooom clients' collective lifetime fees saved is over $776,465,300 and counting.
This is the fact:
A few seconds of FREE Blooom analysis could mean savings for you now and in the long-run.
7. Use credit cards (they aren't always evil).
There are so many ways to get money that is not your own. #creditcards
One of the best financial planning steps I learned is if you cannot pay with cash, then, you shouldn't buy things on credit at all.
But if you can pay cash, then, use credit cards that offer rewards, cash back, etc.
Be responsible with using your cards (i.e. pay them in full) and use them to your advantage (e.g. freebies, cash back, and rewards).
If you don't have a rewards credit card, getting one can be beneficial if used properly.
Before you use a card or two though, I recommend you check your credit for FREE with Credit Sesame.
It will tell you which credit cards or other debt instruments you're likely to be approved for. This helps you avoid getting rejected by some debt issuers.
8. Stop paying off those credit card fees (the unheard way).
There are the interest, penalty, annual fees, and others that come with credit card debt. #mountainofdebt
In the world of personal finance:
Credit card debt is like a disease that doesn't go away easily. It is pure evil even in its simplest state.
There's a solution: Tally
If you qualify, you'll receive a Tally line of credit to pay off your cards with high APR balances – saving you significant amounts of cash by minimizing interest costs and eliminating all fees.
Tally analyzes your credit cards and credit history to ensure it's a fit for you. Consumers typically need a FICO score of 660+ to qualify.
In the end, Tally takes all the burden from you since it makes the right payment to the right card at the right time – no more late fees.
9. Understand your money.
It's difficult to manage your finances and make financial planning when you don't know where to even begin.
Here's a simple equation:
Don't know where your money is going = Chaos.
But how do you analyze and understand your money and get your personal financial planning back on track?
One way to do that is to always have and be on a working, realistic budget – one of the simplest financial planning tools that work.
Here are some questions though:
Are you any of these people?
- Busy and don’t have time to budget but wants to;
- Doesn't know where to begin and in need of help, and/or;
- Has done everything but to no avail or combination of any of these types of people.
If yes, one great option is to use a personal finance tool called Spentapp.
Once a bank/credit card account is linked, Spentapp immediately analyzes your expenses, finds money mistakes and makes financial recommendations you can use.
All those without you lifting a finger.
Here's the deal:
Whether you like tradition (good old fashion way of budgeting) or advanced technology like Spentapp, the key is to know your money and where's it heading.
10. Be happy with what you have and don’t have.
Let's face it:
It is so easy to want some more.
It is so easy to want what other people have.
My wife and I tell ourselves that we don't need to stay in touch with what is current. For that reason, we tell ourselves we don't need to buy gadgets, new services, new products, etc.
What my father and mother taught me was to be happy with what I have and don’t have. I believe in what they said.
Here's the reality:
Time changes, and it changes so fast.
What‘s in the market right now may not be considered ‘in’ a couple of years later. This is especially true with technology.
Are we happy not buying those ‘in’ stuff? Yes. Do we miss out on anything? Absolutely, not.
11. Have goals.
With so many things going on, it's so easy to get distracted or do things out of the ordinary.
I learned to have goals all the time.
Here's the deal:
It's much easier to achieve something when you exactly know what it is you want to achieve.
For example, you go to college knowing what you want to study for.
In life or just about anything:
It's hard to go on a long and winding road without any end in sight. It's like you're going to a battle without a plan.
Personal finance goals don't have to be complex. You can start with simple goals and progress to more difficult ones as you move forward in life.
These are the personal financial planning steps that I have followed in my life.
These tips have allowed my wife and me to get out of a bad financial situation and to save so much money in such a short time.
I do believe that without these tips, my family won't be able to efficiently and quickly manage our finances.
What do you think are the best personal financial planning steps you have learned in your life? Share your thoughts or stories in the comments section below.