A-List Tips

Read financial tips from some of the Web’s most trusted resources.

From JD at

Here’s one excellent way to begin your retirement savings: When you’ve finished paying off your debt, take the amount you were using for this each month and, instead of spending it, stick it into a retirement account. You’ve already developed the habit of using the money to improve your financial life; this is just another way to do it!

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From Ben at

If you have some financial decisions or actions you've been putting off now is the time to take care of them.  I find what works for me is to make a prioritized list of the things I need to do and carry it around with me until I've completed it.  You probably won't have time to get them all done at once but if you write them down and stay on top of it you should finish sooner rather than later.

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From FMF

How can anyone make any sort of meaningful financial progress without a budget, spending plan or whatever you want to call it? Certainly some people do live and do "ok" without a budget, but are they really making the most of their money? I don't think so.

We've had a budget for our entire married life (15 years) and we've tracked our expenditures by Quicken for 7-10 years or so now. Doing so has helped us plan, make decisions, adjust to unexpected circumstances and control our spending. I consider having and using a budget to be one of the cornerstones to growing your net worth. 

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From David at

If you are being constantly hounded by bill collectors, unable to pay for groceries and gasoline, have to ride your bike on dates and keep having your credit cards declined at dinner, you can just about forget about ever getting a date. And if you are married, you might soon be on the road to divorce, which especially for guys, can just add a huge pile of debt onto your already existing debt.

These reasons you should not ignore credit card might seem harsh, but in reality, these are the types of things you are facing. Debt reduction through small payments, borrowing from family members, communicating with your creditors…these are the only true ways out of your debt. You probably created the debt and had no problem doing it. At some point, you have to pay it back…and hiding from them is not going to save you. It will only make it worse.

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From Jim at

Should married couples combine finances?  Married couples should do whatever it is they feel is right for them and their situation because everyone's situation is different. For me, the answer to that question is yes. Many people always jump to the issue of trust whenever talking about combining finances because they assume that if you trust one another then you would combine your finances. If you trusted one another, you wouldn't require a prenuptial agreement. If you trusted one another, you would have separate bank accounts and you wouldn't draw the line so clearly.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that it's not that simple anymore and to boil down a financial decision into an emotional one is a bad decision. There are many emotion independent reasons why you should combine finances and there are many emotion independent reasons why you shouldn't.

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From The Frugal Duchess at

In one of my poor-little-me moments, I once complained to a woman, who I thought had it all: luxe car, huge house, elaborate vacations. But she nodded and disclosed that she was also caring for a dear, but ailing relative. Faced with the poor health of a loved one, she would have traded the keys to her car and home for my healthy family. I took the hint and focused less on my deficits and more on the tangible and intangible assets in my personal accounts.

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From Tricia at

Operation Garage Sale: Parting with my collection Overall, I had a display cabinet full of items. Everything sits in a cabinet in our living room and I admit, I barely look at them. In fact, I stopped acquiring new items since starting our debt reduction journey because I no longer wanted to spend money on them.

Now, I only have a few items left. They include a picture that I drew and one eagle my mom gave me along with a few bald eagles that she painted. Everything else is up for sale. I'm not sad, though. It actually feels a little liberating because I feel that simplifying my life will provide more pleasure than any collection could.

Of course, I'm not saying that you should go out and sell your collection(s). It's a very personal choice. For me, though, I feel very good about my decision. It feels wonderful to be simplifying my life.

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From Flexo at

You get three free annual credit reports. Make sure you go to to get your free reports. Searching online could deliver you to one of many copycat sites that will try to charge you. Even by using the free site, you have to dodge “special offers,” but is the real deal.

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From the author of

Take a few minutes and think about all the little things you might do each day that would save some money, improve your health, and save lives — your own in the short term, your children’s in the mid-term, and the earth’s in the not-so-far-away-either term.

Little things, like..

Eating locally, or at least eating foods that are in-season. Drinking tap water from a glass, not a bottle that was trucked in from who-knows-where. Using that same water glass all day long, or heck, for however many days it takes until it gets dirty. Using cloth napkins. Using torn-up tee shirts instead of paper towels. Cleaning with baking soda & vinegar instead of harsh chemicals. Washing your clothes less frequently. (Such as when they’re actually dirty, instead of every time you wear them.) Changing some light bulbs. Walking instead of driving. Combining trips if you do drive. Turning the water off while you brush your teeth. Not using your toilet as a trash can. Recycling glass, paper, and plastic. Buying things with the least amount of packaging available.

Every. single. one. of those things can make your life easier, save you money, help you live a healthier life, or all three — and they’re all extremely easy to do.

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From SVB at

There's pretty much no excuse for paying bills late. Unfortunately, I'm guilty for missing payments in the past, or dropping the ball on them for a variety of reasons: misplaced bills, lack of organization, questions about the bill that hold up the payment, procrastination, and so forth. But there are some unsavory consequences to late bill payments, especially if you do this habitually: your credit history and credit score can be adversely affected, which could lead to unfavorable interest rates and additional fees on loans you take out. The difference between a good and a poor credit score can literally be many thousands of dollars, especially if the loans in consideration are for big ticket items such as mortgages or car loans. Apparently, even a single late payment can cause rate increases among your creditors across the board.

So what to do? The key is organization (which I need to be improve upon!). Review your mail immediately and file your bills away using a system that you can stick with. Pay bills on a regular schedule or as soon as you get them. For those bills that don't need to be sent out right away, label them with the date you intend to mail them out. Say NO to late fees and higher interest charges!

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From Madison at

Financial success has little to do with money, stocks, bonds, asset allocation and retirement plans. Sure those matter, but let's not confuse financial tools with the fundamentals. The foundation is based on preparation, planning and the relationship that money has with other aspects of your life.

The fundamentals: Set financial goals, communicate with your spouse, motivate yourself with frequent rewards, and plan for the unexpected. Finally, don't delay happiness. Too often, we tell ourselves, I'll be happy as soon as I pay off this debt… retire… or earn more money. Setting goals is great, but there is no reason you can't enjoy the road to get there too.

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