Folks like to dish out bad money advice almost as much as they enjoy giving out unsolicited dating advice. It can be supremely frustrating to hear someone tell you about how if you just ordered fewer servings of smashed avocado toast, you’d probably own a home by now. That’s not only untrue, but it also doesn’t offer much inspiration when it comes to bettering your financial circumstances. It just makes you feel shitty.
On the flip side of that, however, good money advice can really help you to shift your thinking and create space for new healthy habits. In my own experience, I once read about the value of regularly checking in on how much monthly subscriptions are costing me and thinking about what I can cut. About once a year, I’ll now review this kind of spending, and I’ll often find something I can change – whether it’s my phone plan, a streaming service or even something like a paid meditation app (I’ve had a few of those). It definitely makes a difference.
Another smaller example is that years ago, my nonna taught me to hold onto used jars and alcohol bottles (lol) and to repurpose them as storage options or even makeshift vases. It’s a tiny thing, but rather than buying containers or vases, I often reuse things I already have – which is much more environmentally friendly, and it looks pretty cute, too.
With all that considered, I thought I’d ask around to see what money advice other people have found helpful over the years. If you’re looking for practical tips that have helped real people to save some cash in the past, here is a list of examples to consider.
What’s the best money advice you’ve ever received?
Make it automatic, baby!
Make everything automatic! I set up scheduled payments for every pay day that automatically put a percentage of my pay straight into a savings account that only earns interest if I don’t withdraw from it. I then have another scheduled payment that puts the sum I need for bills and joint expenses with my partner into our shared account. That way, I always know that whatever is in my account I can spend on anything I like and will still be able to survive the month with savings.
Take your time with purchases
If you want to buy something, wait one month before you purchase it. More often than not after a month you’ll not even remember what it is you wanted to waste your money on in the heat of the moment.
Split up your monthly pay
If you’re paid monthly, set up your accounts to ‘pay’ yourself a weekly/more frequent wage. I have my pay transferred into one account (one that’s harder to access) then each week, an auto transfer will send money to my every day account. I use diff banks for each account, so my savings are automated and I don’t get the pay-day-panic like I used to.
Small savings really do add up
A few years ago when I was struggling to meaningfully grow my savings, my dad told me if I just put away 20 dollars a week, that’s an extra 1000 a year in savings. I thought, “20 bucks? Childs play. I’m going to do $50 a week” and it’s made a world of difference over the last few years
Apply the 30% rule to rent
The best money advice I ever received was never move into a place if it costs more than 30% of your weekly salary. That, and only eating out once a day. That includes buying coffee in the morning.
Prepare yourself for major investments
When I was saving for a house, I was putting the equivalent of monthly mortgage repayments into an online-only savings account as soon as I got paid, so when I finally had enough for a deposit to get a mortgage, I was already used to making the repayments and it didn’t feel like such a stretch each fortnight.
Gaming can teach you a few things
Sometimes it’s just about framing. A friend once said to me, “You hold onto items in a video game because you think you’ll run into a situation where it might come in useful, but then you finish the game and realise you never had to use it. You got by with what you had, even though you had that valuable item in your pocket the whole time. Why don’t you treat your money the same way?” Possibly the nerdiest financial advice I’ve ever received, but I never looked back.
– David S
Weigh up the value before committing to a purchase
When starting out on a big savings journey, like a house or an overseas trip, find a weekly or monthly essential item that you can judge the cost of luxuries on. I used my weekly train fare, which was $50, and before I would buy a treat like a new dress, I would divide the cost by the number of weekly train fares I could cover for the same price to work out if it was really worth it.
Don’t sleep on your superannuation
Super is great for saving on tax. If you think about how much money you get as a whole (not just every paycheck), you realise that by using super efficiently, you can get more money in your pocket…sort of.
Get into the habit of saving for a rainy day
My parents taught me to put half of every pay cheque into savings as soon as I get and to use whatever is leftover for bills and spending. I’ve followed their advice ever since I got my first job and it’s ensured I always have a pretty good bank of savings.
Can you buy it twice?
If you can’t afford to buy it in cash twice, don’t get it. I’ve never actually listened to this but it sounds like good advice.
Give every dollar a ‘job’
Moving across to Reddit, this user has a tip for changing your thinking about the cash in your bank account.
Having $1000 in my checking account with no purpose meant I had $1000 to spend, and I often did.
Having $1000 in my checking account and knowing that:
$100 has to go for the week’s groceries
$400 has to be set aside for property tax in March
$150 has to go for the wife’s birthday next month
$50 needs to be set aside for fuel for the week
$300 has to be there for the car payment next week
…makes me feel like I’m broke and I don’t spend dollars I’ll soon need for other things.
– Reddit user, ItMadeHimMean
A pay increase shouldn’t lead to a spend increase
When you receive a salary raise, do not proportionally raise the cost of your lifestyle.
If you maintain the lifestyle you’ve always had while you keep receiving raises, over a few years you’re going to find yourself with a lot of extra cash and investments.
– Reddit user, Marsdreamer
Got a piece of money advice that changed your relationship with cash? Let us know in the comments below what it is any why it’s so effective.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.