55 great financial tips

55 Great Financial Tips

By Michael Peterson
In August 18, 2018

We’ve built a career on helping people with debt, credit, saving, and budgeting. We’ve worked with people at all stages of their lives, from newly independent college grads to retirees. We’ve helped people improve their credit scores and pay down high-interest credit card debt.

And if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s this: While every financial situation is unique, there are some pieces of financial advice financial goals, some pieces of financial advice are truly universal.

So, whether you’re a spender or a saver; whether you’re a single, young professional or a stay-at-home parent; whether you’re paying down debt or build up an emergency fund — we’re pretty sure that you’ll find our 55 “greatest hits” helpful.

  1. Pay yourself first.
  2. Save up for large purchases — don’t use your credit card,
  3. Check your credit report every year. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year from the three major credit reporting bureaus.
  4. Everyone needs an emergency fund that covers three to six months of living expenses.
  5. Never, ever pay for a checking account. Most banks offer free checking.
  6. It’s never too early to start saving for retirement.
  7. Pay your credit card balance in full every month.
  8. Never close a credit card. It’ll hurt your credit score.
  9. If a debt collector calls, ask them to put it in writing and communicate with you by mail.
  10. There is no “right” way to budget and no “right” tool to use. You can use a budgeting app, pencil and paper, or an Excel spreadsheet. What matters is that you DO have a budget.
  11. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
  12. Bring a lunch to work every day. Fast food is bad for your wallet and your health.
  13. Don’t get caught in a “competitive spending” situation with neighbors/in-laws/competitive coworkers. You have no idea what their finances are like.
  14. If you want something, sleep on it for at least 24 hours. Don’t cave in to impulses.
  15. Don’t go without car insurance.
  16. The store brand is almost always as good as the national brand.
  17. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where you’ll find the less expensive, less processed items (think produce, fresh meat, eggs, etc.).
  18. Never buy something online without searching for a promo code first.
  19. Worried about paying your bills on time? Use your bank’s automated bill pay feature to avoid late fees.
  20. If you’re having trouble paying your credit card bill, the worst thing you can do is stop paying. Call your credit card company. They’ll probably be willing to work with you.
  21. The library is a great source of no-cost entertainment, from books to DVDs to video games to music.
    save money, use the library
  22. Use balance transfers with caution. They can be helpful tools for debt reduction — but they can also open the door to more problems if not used responsibly.
  23. Don’t base your purchase decisions on price alone: In some cases, the slightly more expensive option is higher quality and will last longer.
  24. Want a better deal, a lower price, or a more competitive interest rate? Ask for it.
  25. Leave your credit cards at home when you go shopping.
  26. You should always be working toward some kind of financial goal.
  27. Always compare prices before you buy.
  28. Don’t buy unnecessary items just to get free shipping.
  29. Don’t buy more items than you need just to get a deal.
  30. If possible, leave the kids at home when you go grocery shopping.
  31. Don’t rush into buying a house. Homeownership is expensive. Don’t feel pressured to buy before you’re ready.
  32. Rent-to-own is never a good option. Save up and pay cash instead.
  33. Never, ever get a payday loan.
  34. Layaway is a great alternative to credit cards, especially around the holidays.
  35. Change your passwords at least once a year.
  36. Before you use an ATM or card reader, check for skimming devices. (A few telltale signs? Loose or ill-fitting components and pieces that look crooked or off-color.)
  37. Opt out of your bank’s overdraft protection program.
  38. Be careful with DIY projects — especially when it comes to home repairs and renovation. If you’re inexperienced, it might be more cost-effective (and safer) to call in the professionals.
  39. Shred all sensitive financial before throwing them away. This includes bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, insurance bills, and anything else that contains personal information.
  40. Cancel subscriptions and memberships that you don’t use.
  41. Budgets are not set in stone. If your budget isn’t working for you, make adjustments.
  42. Sometimes, renting or borrowing is better than buying. This is especially true when it comes to oddball, single-use items (think power tools, lawn equipment, and the like).
  43. Read your bank and credit card statements every month. Be on the lookout for purchases that don’t look familiar or retailers you don’t recognize.
  44. If you use banking or credit card smartphone apps, make sure to keep them updated.
  45. Buying in bulk is not always the most cost-effective option.
  46. Buy less house than you can afford.
  47. Want to curb impulse purchases? Unsubscribing to retailer emails and un-following brands on social media can help you avoid temptation.
  48. Always know where to find free ATMs.
  49. Keep important documents — such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, etc. — in a fireproof safe.
  50. Don’t keep your passwords anywhere near your computer. If you have to write them down, hide them in a secure place far from your computer.
  51. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to do your banking, check your credit card statement, or pay your bills.
  52. Don’t store your credit card information on retailer websites.
  53. Avoid using the same password for all of your online accounts.
  54. Be careful with emails that claim to be from your bank or credit card lender. Emails with lots of typos, unfamiliar contact information, or requests for passwords or personal information are likely phishing scams. If you’re in doubt, call customer service and ask if it’s the real deal.
  55. Don’t be afraid to splurge every now and then. If you’re too strict with your budget, you’ll have a hard time sticking to it for the long haul.

Need even more advice? No worries. The helpful team at DebtGuru.com is always available to offer help, guidance, and support.

Michael Peterson

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.