My best finance tips

Cut up your credit cards
Sure, some of us can handle them, and you can get great benefits like rebates or airline miles, but for me credit is another word for magical thinking. No money in the bank? I’ll just charge it and think about how to pay the bill tomorrow! I always paid off my balance, but usually from my savings account. The ability to spend money I didn’t have was too much of a temptation, so I stuck my cards in the shredder.

Do your own taxes
Unless you have an extremely complicated financial situation, Turbo Tax can handle it. Don’t be afraid! Is the emotional comfort of paying someone $300 to fill out the Turbo Tax form really worth it?

Buy used cars
New cars immediately depreciate. Buy a nice, recent used car, preferably in cash, and put your money into something that actually increases in value.

Stick with index funds
You generally can’t beat the market. And if you find someone who does, they’re going to want to be paid for it. The likelihood of their expenses outweighing your gains is highly dubious.

Buy a house in Los Angeles in the late 1990s
The condo I bought in L.A. in 1998 was the single best investment I’ve ever made. It appreciated $400,000 in seven years, and I had a nice place to live in the meantime.

Keep it simple
Pay attention to your money, but don’t overdo it. I recently revamped my Quicken files to track only my day-to-day checking and savings accounts. That’s the money I have to watch. Everything that’s in retirement or other investments is best left forgotten.

Live a little
Pay attention to the big things and the little things will work themselves out. Your time is the only really limited resource. Don’t waste it driving all over town to find bargains or obsessing over every penny.

[This my entry into Dumb Little Man's Personal Finance Tip contest. Wish me luck!]

2 comments:

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Brochures said...

Credit cards are actually okay, as long as you practice control in using them. Most people get tempted to charge everything only to realize that they can't actually afford to pay for it. Live within your means, and be disciplined.