8 Personal Finance Basics to Tackle NOW

By David Ning on 17 June 2011 (Updated 3 June 2014) 4 comments
Photo: Ed Yourdon

If you are like many of us (yes, me included), you probably visit several websites to read financial literature frequently. Many of us really read these articles to kill time, even though they often have useful advice. Reading is a form of entertainment, after all...but reading won't do you any good if you don't take action. Here are eight basic personal finance tasks you really ought to do in addition to reading. (See also: My One Favorite Frugal Living Tip)

Get back to work.

There's a better than 50/50 chance that you are reading this during your work hours. What are you doing? Don't you want to show your boss that the pay you are getting is well worth the cost? The good news is that since many of your coworkers are probably slacking off, you can look awesome in comparison. This will only help you during annual review and salary increase considerations!

Clip some coupons.

While extreme couponing is probably not for any of us, there are advantages of clipping coupons. Whether it's combing through the pages of an online coupons site or reading the terms and conditions of every coupon that comes through the mail, coupons are well worth the time.

Make sure your bills are paid.

A no-brainer right? Yet, billions and billions of dollars are spent on late fees every year in America alone.

Figure out how to contribute more to your retirement accounts.

Max out your 401(k). Max out your Roth or Traditional IRA. When you are done, try to reach the limit earlier in the year so you have more money to add to your taxable investment accounts.

In fact, plan your retirement.

How many of you have planned for retirement yet? Do you know how much you will need? If you don't, how do you know how much you should save?

Start a budget.

I know, the process to track your spending sucks, but it gets easier. And without one, it's almost impossible to guess at how much you need to spend. You might even be able to save more money so you can spend it on something you truly care about.

Make an effort to build a good relationship with your family and friends.

This takes time to build, so start early, and be generous. Being helpful doesn't cost you money per se, but you can choose to have much more free time if you have money, and being generous with money goes a long way in your relationships.

Try to make more money.

If you've completed all the basics, why don't you try to find more ways to make money? Do it for yourself, your family, your children, or charity. We know that money is only a tool, but after all, it's a very useful one.

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Guest's picture

Simple and clear 8 personal finance practice basics. I am practicing 7 of 8. Where is the 1 i left?. The coupon. Looks like i am gonna plan using coupons more often in the future so that i can save some money.

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Guest

Good advice! The best thing I ever did was start a budget. Now I'm a budgeting geek! I will NEVER go back!

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Cooper

Good simple tips! Yet it's amazing to me how few people actually follow them. I think the problem is that when most people think of "budget" they think restriction, when in actuality a budget can be quite liberating, as you don't have the guilt of spending when you know that you can afford it.

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Justine

Any suggestions as to how to plan your retirement at a young age? I'm 26 years old. I've been working to max out my Roth IRA, but just like anyone else, there are so many variables in my life I don't know where to start. The husband is self-employed, so there is no way to estimate what kind of income he may bring in for us over the years. My current profession's income is stable and should not fluctuate over the years (save any COLAs I might receive). I also have no idea how to estimate cost of living 40 years from now. Does anyone have any suggestions or is in my current situation?