Ask the Readers: What's the Best Money Move You've Ever Made?

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Mylene, Abby, and Bethany for winning this week's contest!

There's a lot you can do with money. You can use it to buy tangible objects or invest it for the future. It can help create experiences or a sense of security. It can be used to improve your life or the lives of others. Whether your money is well-used or wasted depends on what you want from it.

What's the best money move you've ever made? What was the payoff — advances in your career, improvements to your well-being, more money, or something else? Did you have to sacrifice anything along the way? Would you do it again if you had the chance?

Tell us about your best money move and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Best Move Ever? Consolidating credit cards into one.

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Best money move was buy Mastercard stock on day one! Never picked a stock so well. Still kicking myself that we sold too early.

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Mary Happymommy

The best money move we ever made was selling our first 2 homes years ago when home prices were sky high. I wish we were in that position again.

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The wisest financial move I made was actively budgeting my money to make sure that every dollar has a place and function. In particular, this is very helpful after one gets a raise since lifestyle inflation is far too easy.

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Our best money move was selling our house in an expensive real estate market, paying off that old 6.5 percent mortgage, moving to a cheaper area, and using the remaining profit from the sale to buy a house for cash. We now live in a newer, more energy efficient house and have no mortgage and lower property taxes.

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1) Investing in single family homes and letting my Tenants pay off the mortgage.

2) Downsizing from a big fancy house to a more modest one.

~ darlene

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Kristine R.

By far the best move I ever made was to draw up a budget and to start using coupons to maximize our disposable income.

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The best money move I ever made was when looking for a piece of property to build a house on. One piece had 6 subdivided lots and a view of San Francisco Bay. It had been on the market for a long time and when we looked at it, we could see why. A sewer line went right down the middle exactly where a house would be ideally built for the view and street access. The parcel was only $12,000. My husband went to the sewer department of the county and asked what it would cost to move the sewer line and manhole to the side of property next to the property line. When they said $1,000, we immediately bought the property. Then we had the line moved and started building. The house was 2800 sq. feet and cost $62,000 to build and after we lived there for many years with a very small mortgage that we paid off early, we are retiring and selling it now for $579,000.Plus there are 2 view lots that can also be sold . If the sellers had had that sewer line moved themselves, they would have been able to sell that land for a lot more than $12,000.

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It was buying my first house at age 22.

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First: Deciding on a budget together before we got married. Second: Getting out of debt as soon as possible. Third: Living within our means, even when it takes a little sacrifice of "fun stuff".

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Spending less than we earn and putting extra on our mortgage to pay it off.

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The best money move I've ever made was starting a savings account where 10% of each paycheck goes straight into it!

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Going to a graduate school- I love my new career and am making nearly twice what I was before (including benefits).

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Maria S

Buying Netflix for $8 a month & getting rid of the extra movie channels. So simple, but offers more entertainment for us for less a month!

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Hands down the best money move I've ever made was having sinking funds autodrafted weekly to our ING/Capital One savings accounts. We have money now set aside for tuition, annual expenses, vacation and savings and we don't have to give it a second thought. It also has caused us to live within our means because we have less money to blow each week since we can only spend what's in our checking account.

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Mine was going to grad school to get an MBA. That one move alone has netted me millions of dollars over the course of a 20+ year career (and counting).

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the best move was buying a house when prices were low

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Livivua Chandler

i would say paying off debt as quick as possible

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My best move sticking to a no-frills budget until we had any and all debt paid off. It saved a ton of money in interest and gave us a great satisfaction. Not sure if I would do it again, because hopefully there won't be a need to...except maybe morgage....

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I took a second job to pay off credit card debt. It wasn't fun, but it was worth it and it provided me with a great foundation to live a more financially responsible life. I also gained the freedom to pursue those things I really care about.

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The best money move I ever made was to marry a guy who sees the world through the same frugal lens as me. We bought a rundown home together and fixed it up into the home of our dreams with his contractor skills and my help, creativity and patience.
We almost never have disagreements about money, which enhances our marriage as well as our pocketbook.

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Living in a group house just after college. I lived in a tiny little room that was really more of a sun porch than a room, but it helped me save an incredible amount of money. Rent in DC would have been at least $1000 to live alone. Living in a group house I paid only $310 a month and put the rest in savings. It helped me pay off my first car in less than a year and with no debt I bought my first home a year later!

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We started a 401K 15 years ago and we're really glad we did.

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Best money move ever....Paying myself first...

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That would have to be investing in an IRA, although it hasn't exactly made me comfortable in retirement. But it's better than no investment at all.

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Happy Love

I started a ROTH IRA in my early 20's.

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This might sound silly, but we eat at home the vast majority of the time and most meals are cooked from scratch for almost 35 years. I know we have saved a bundle over the years. One more thing the 401K at work.

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The best money move I ever made was buying a condo in the state my son chose to go to college in. After a year of paying $750 a month for dorm living we found a condo to purchase for $279 a month. He found a roommate that pays the going rate of $250 a month. We are so excited for our investment and the first year of savings in taxes really made it a good move.

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Betty D.

The best money move I've ever made was putting it back in my purse. I use coupons, and often can't pass up a deal. Now I try to do a 'no spend' and keep the money in my purse. I have saved quite a bit with my new plan!

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starting a roth IRA

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About 15 years ago, I was a new mom and wanting to stay home with my baby. I had joined a warehouse club because it was supposed to save me money on diapers and stuff. But the first time I went they had a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette on sale. I had heard of it so I bought it and read the whole thing cover to cover. Rocked my world and I have never looked back. Immediately found an opportunity to save a small fortune when our washing machine died and was replaced by a used one (still working 15 years later). And I learned that disposable diapers were cheaper if I bought the grocery store brand and stocked up when they went on sale. Never did find the warehouse store so great on prices. The book really changed my mindset. I have made lots of great financial decisions since then, but it was catalyst.

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Jennifer Marie

We put extra money on college loans and paid them off early!!

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Paying off my credit cards and never charging more than I can pay when the bill is due!

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Best money move was using coupons and educating myself about a frugal lifestyle!

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Realizing what "enough" is for me. I am still learning this, but what a difference it has made! Also learning to tell myself no. :)

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One of the best money moves I made? I got a part time weekend job at a coffee shop. I used to buy myself coffee as a "treat". Now I take an equal amount of $$ I used to spend for my cup of joe and add it to the monthly payment on my highest interest rate credit card. One of the "perks" of working there is free coffee. Not only do I get a little extra income to pay off my credit card faster, I still get my coffee treat ~ and it doesn't cost me a thing!

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Before I graduated college I made sure to pay off my car. Any extra money from student loans, overtime, etc was applied towards my modest car loan (15,000). I knew when I had to start paying my student loans I couldn't afford both car and student loans. It was the greatest feeling of finally owning something. I still don't make a lot and had to lower my student loan payments but my fiancé and I agree we should pay off a big chunk before purchasing a house. I may not have a high salary but I'm not going home stressing I can't afford my current lifestyle.

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Deciding to stop borrowing money and get out of debt completely.

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Using my one week "wait list".

Anything I'm tempted to buy, other than essentials like regular grocery purchases, household supplies, basic toiletries, etc, I put on the list and re-visit the idea after one week.

Very often, I don't want to make the purchase after a week's wait!

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The best move I ever made was paying cash instead of credit cards!

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katie m

The smartest move I made was setting up an automatic transfer fom my checking to my savings account. I started small at first ($10/week), but I hardly noticed it when it was taken out. And I was glas I had done it when an unexpected vet bill came up!

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Tiffany S.

My best money move was creating a budget and tracking every dollar I spend to make myself more aware of my spending habits. This new awareness has completely changed how I handle my money and has allowed me to save large amounts every month which I then immediately put toward my student and auto loans. My new focus is now on paying off all my debt as quickly as possible. This means sacrificing things I used to do all the going out to eat, movies, bars, shopping for clothes, online shopping, etc....but it's going to be totally worth it if I knock out all my debt within the next few years!

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I started contributing money to 401K!

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We nearly purchased a $400K home at 24 years old. I loved the idea of that house, but it wasn't really practical for was a quaint bungalow with tons of charm in a great location, but didn't have much room to grow and the low ceilings made my husband feel like a giant! My husband talked some sense into me and all we lost was $100 deposit.

A few months later, we ended up buying a $235K house in the suburbs. It's newer, energy efficient, has room to grow, we love the neighborhood...and we have a 15 year mortgage and no PMI!

This single decision has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars and has made our future look brighter! I am thankful everyday that we picked the right house! Our house is a blessing instead of a burden!

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Best move I ever made was once I had a real job, I paid off my first big debt--a car--as quickly as I could. That was 16 years ago, and that one goal has turned into a financial habit. I pay every debt off as quickly as possible, so my extra savings can be placed into stocks, an IRA and other investments. My credit is impeccable and I don't have the worries some of my generation do that there may never be money for retirement. The sooner you start on the right foot, the further you can go!

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Margaret Davis

It may sound illogical but the best money move I made was declaring Chapter 13 bankruptcy. After both my husband and I lost our jobs within a month of each other, we never were able to "catch up" especially since our new jobs were for significantly less pay and benefits. Before the bankruptcy we were using credit easily because the next check was always just a few days away. Now though we live paycheck to paycheck, it is because we do not use credit and are living as close to our means as possible. We've learned the hard way how to be more frugal, more DIY and continue to learn as we go forward.

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Sadly, my best money move is still to come. Seems I've only made mistakes so far, but I'm working on it!

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Rebecca B. A. R.

Sadly, it was declaring bankruptcy. Due to the recession, we weren't able to find jobs that would allow us to pay off our debt, after we lost our old jobs, and no one was going to wait around until we found jobs, so bankruptcy was our only option at the time. Had people been willing to work with us it would have been different but they weren't willing. A huge abount of stress left me when we finally decided to go for the bankruptcy, which included leaving our house. I still hope no one ever would have to go through what we did, though.

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Madelen Weber

I started using coupons and sales. And the total amount saved after each trip I would transfer to my savings account. at the end of the year we were able to take a family vacation with everyone in our family ! big savings :)

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Our best money move was saving to buy a house during the lowest rates & prices in the last 10 years. We're so excited to be in our own home and building equity, instead of paying someone else's mortgage.

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Recently, my best money move was to take the advice of one of my customers, who was also a shop owner on Etsy. She advised that I should raise my prices of one best-selling item from $18 to $45. I raised it to $30, and to my surprise, sales increased! It was really nice to be putting forth the same effort, but getting a lot more profit. It taught me a nice lesson about investing in yourself.

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Creating a simple excell budget. It is easy enough to use that not only do we know where we stand financially each month. Anytime we consider a lifetime change that effects our budget it is super easy to create a new tab and see how that new entry would effect our overall financial health before making that decision.

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Mark J

The best money move we ever made was to live off of less than 1 income when we got married and save the rest or use it to pay off debt. This one move allowed my wife to stay home with our kids when we had them, pay off all debt (other than then house) prior to having kids, and pay off the house within 7 years of buying it.

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I bought a house... 3.75%. i thought it was pretty good.

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Buying foreclosure!

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Thrifty Writer

Being on good terms with and making a good impression on a former co-worker, who, after a few months at her new job, realized that she had too much to do and asked if I wanted to work with her. I ended up making almost double what I had been making at my old job, plus insurance and benefits.

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Paying off my school loan right after college!

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My best money move was starting saving early, from my very first job in my teens, to my first job after college, I saved over 50% of my income. I took advantage of not needing much when I was single. Now that I have a family to support, I hope I can breathe a little easier.

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Amanda Sakovitz

The best move I've ever made was going to school to be a radiology technologist. I will make fairly good money.

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Thomas Murphy

my best money move was buying apple stock in the $100's and selling in the $600 -$700 range.

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My husband wants one thing and one thing only. He wants our house to be paid off before he retires in 13 years, 4 months. Over a year ago, I was able to refinance our home from a 30 year mortgage with 28 years left on it, to a 15 year mortgage at 3.5%. The payment for the 15 year ended up actually being lower than the original payment for the 30 year loan. Now he's happy - a few extra payments, and the house will be all ours before his retirement date.

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Kenny F

eatting out less

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Tabathia B

It was probably becoming a one car family which helped with out budget and eliminate a 2nd car payment, insurance and reduced our gas budget

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"The brains and the brawn." This is what we call our strategy for getting rid of excess items and making extra cash to put towards debt payments.

One year ago, after having our first baby together (we also have an 11 year old son from his first marriage) my husband and I retained a financial planner to help us examine our finances. It was the best $3000 we've ever spent: we realized how much money we were wasting in debt payments every month and vowed to work together to pay off all debts (except for our mortgage) and really start saving.

Part of our recent strategy has been to get rid of excess items around the house. Now, every week I try to find one or two things to post to Craigslist or ebay. My son and have made a game of it. We find an item, price it and list it together, and then wait and see what happens. My husband hates that part of things, so he has assigned himself the "muscle" task, i.e. shipping (for items we sell on ebay) and hand-offs (for items sold on Craigslist).

This division of labor works well for us, and we've succeeded in bringing in between $30 and $200 each week doing this. $30 might not seem like much, but it feels great watching the principal on his student loan slowly shrink over time, and we've learned to work as a team.

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Living within my means and paying off my MBA before finishing the program all under a college student's budget.

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Abby B.

My best money move was working hard and getting a promotion at work.

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Michelle Guillory

Making a 50% down payment on a new car and financing the balance at 0% for 2 years. Many of the GM dealers offer this promotion in August and December.

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Using inheritance money to purchase our first house - the payments were the same back then as we were paying for rent.