What Are Your Best Financial Moves?

Many of us are working toward debt elimination, retirement savings, or other personal finance goals. What tricks or tactics have you used to successfully save money, kill debt, or grow your income?

Photo by Ben Popken.

Personal finance blog Free Money Finance recently put out a call asking readers for their three best financial moves. Hearing how others get ahead economically can serve as both inspiration and education.

My best moves?

  • Reading Your Money or Your Life: This book was pivotal in helping me realise what I value and how to spend my energy working toward building the life I want to live and not wasting the proceeds from my work on frivolous purchases that delay my financial independence.
  • Learning to cook. It is amazing how much money you can save by learning to make a few simple meals from basic ingredients. This is way cheaper than constantly eating out or substandard microwavable meals.
  • Following personal finance and frugality blogs such as The Simple Dollar, Mr. Money Mustache, and Get Rich Slowly. Together these three blogs provide daily advice and motivation that keeps me focused on the end game.

What tricks or tactics have helped you achieve your financial goals?

What are Your Three Best Financial Moves? [Free Money Finance]


    I never buy anything I can't afford right now (except my house).

    I won't take out a loan for a car (or any other depreciating asset), and I don't put anything on my credit card unless I have the money in the bank to pay it off immediately (obviously waiting until the CC bill arrives and is due).

    I know this sounds simple, but I'm often amazed at some of my friends who spend money they don't have... things like motorbikes and holidays on credit cards, or massive loans for cars that are generally worth less than the loan the minute they've been driven out of the dealership.

    That and the offset on my home loan have been big pluses in getting ahead.

    Biggest one for me is to write down everything you spend (or as I do, use an iPhone app). The simple fact of making notes means you're thinking about your spending, and typically you'll save money as a result. If not, you can see where all of your money is going and work out where you can cut back.

    Consolidation of home loan with personal loans (and credit card). It is an amazing way to reduce the required monthly repayments. But you must take into consideration the amount paid in the long term.

    - Drink slowly then go to the toilet when it's your shout.
    - Don't give $$ tips, verbal ones are much better.
    - Change your name to George Costanza

      Is that you Clinton?

    Direct debit bills from a dedicated account.

    Work out the average bill cost for your pay cycle; fortnightly for instance.
    Set up the separate account and a regular transfer from your pay account.
    Put as many of the bills on direct deposit.

    The money left in your pay account is yours. I did this 2 years ago and reduced a huge amount of stress and guesswork in my life.

    You're going to get old, and one day you won't be able to work. This is not a surprise. Plan for it now.

    Sit down, even if you're 22, and figure out how much you need to live comfortably. Then figure out how much you need in whatever investment to make that happen. Then figure out how you're going to get enough money into that investment by the time you stop work.

      this is all well and good, HOWEVER, any financial planner will tell you to take advantage of any pensions/transfer payments available. Today it is common practise to get clients not named in the Forbes top 100 rich list to liquidate assets over time leading up to retirement as to get as close as possible to the asset threshold set by centrelink.

    Buying a Unit instead of a house.. I didn't need the space of a house for just me and my girlfriend (nor did I need to clean a whole house or do the gardening), because the loan was significantly smaller, I was able to pay it out much sooner and now that house prices have gone so high that first home buyers can't afford them, units are in demand so my unit vale has increased at a greater rate than house prices such that the house I just bought (to raise a family) will only cost me $150k after selling the unit.

    - Set up 4 bank accounts. One for everyday spending, one for emergencies with enough money to last 6 months, one for long-term savings (e.g. house), and one for short-term savings (holidays, gadgets etc). Only leave what you need for the fortnight in your everyday spending account so you don't overspend.

    - Set up an automatic transfer so 40-50% of your income goes straight into your savings accounts every payday.

    - Get bank accounts with no fees. There are many out there. E.g. ING Direct has no ATM fees if you get out $200 or more.

    - Pay off and cancel credit cards and loans. Never get into debt, only buy things you can afford. Patience is a virtue.

    - Pay all bills by direct debit

    - Sell your car if it is not necessary (I live in inner-city, so having a car is a massive hassle and waste of money). There are other options such as public transport, taxis and car-sharing (goget for example) that are significantly cheaper.

    Automatically transfer a tad more than what I think I can afford into an online savings account each week (This makes it difficult to get to, but not so much that I *can't* touch it should I absolutely *need* it).
    Pay off my credit card each month.
    I worked part time (in the glamourous world of fast food no less) during uni, so I could pay for my HECS upfront. It was difficult, but was so worth it - my peers are now having to pay all that money back, on top of all the bills that comes with growing up/graduating/moving out/etc. (This was also back in the day of the 20% discount for prepaid HECS - vaguely remember this might have changed, or in the process of changing).
    Paid cash for my cars.
    Wait a bit before purchasing new tech gadgets. Prices always come down, even if you only wait a month or so. It's also not going to kill me to keep using my 3GS, even though I could upgrade to a 4. (I own my phone outright, so my plan is cheaper if I just stay with my old phone, instead of upgrading to the newest version).

    - Invest time into tracking your every asset, liability and expense with an online utility (I use ANZ Money Manager). Visualisation of your net worth is a great motivator.
    - Have a Google calendar showing your upcoming financial obligations
    - Make your lavish purchases smart. There is nothing wrong with that $700 phone, but can you claim some of it on tax, could you buy it cheaper outright from OS and run it on a cheap BYO SIM plan?
    - Take advantage of promotional rates on high interest savings accounts. Move your money around.
    - Don't be tempted to overborrow to meet your lifestyle expectations. There are often other options than becoming a debt slave, such as moving away from cities to buy a nice home.
    - Pickup a discount wherever you can. Eg. long-term public transport tickets.

    - no car
    - stock up on non-perishables when they're on sale (don't go nuts and fill your garage with cereal, be realistic about what you'll consume)
    - Share housing. Rent is definitely my biggest expense, so splitting that and all other household expenses makes a huge difference (this also helps me along to my goal of not renting anymore, and saving more money to obtain a mortgage of my own, rather than paying somebody else's). This is also a good idea if you own a place and are struggling with the mortgage.
    - the oldie but goodie: "pay yourself first". Before you spend anything, put a designated amount of money into your savings account. Don't touch it.
    - Cash only. Debit Mastercard is my life.

    We live off our credit card.

    Our salaries go directly into an offset account that offsets the interest we pay on our mortgage. Every month the credit card automatically pays itself off from the offset account without incurring any interest.

    This means we reduce the amount of interest we pay on our mortgage, allowing us to pay it off sooner, which means that our savings 'earn' more interest than they would if they were in a term deposit account.

    It's not relevant for everyone but as a reasonably low income uni student I keep a money box.

    Whenever I get home from a night out or a day at uni I put the change in the box, then when I find myself strapped for cash by that rego bill arriving at exactly the wrong time or a speeding fine I have a couple of hundred dollars just waiting in that little tin on the desk.

    Most of the time the money just sits out of sight out of mind 'cause its's not linked to my bank account but it's a life saver.

    I like to spend part of my weekend/free time baking the snacks i will eat for the week. I became really good friends with my nanna learning her cost-saving cooking tips. It saves sooo much money than buying lunchbox fillers/biscuits and desserts. I also cook every meal so there will be leftovers to eat for the next day or freeze for later. It's amazing how much money you can save when you learn to cook.

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