Personal Finance

TFM’s 5 Money Rules to Live By

The only way anyone really saves money is to spend less than you make. It’s a simple equation that many people have a difficult time following. Even when I began making great money, I never changed my spending habits. I could afford to have a car service, yet I always took the subway. I continued to live as though I was on a tight budget – and along with this key rule, these are the other values I’ve kept to build and grow my wealth.

1. Always search for better deals:

* If I find something I absolutely love in a store, I go home and comparison shop online. Google’s shopping tool lets me see how much it’s going for on different online retailer sites. Amazon is another great site to use for comparing prices.

* Then I check to see if I can get it on eBay. I have no shame in buying a designer bag second-hand if it’s in great condition and saves me half the price. This is how I get all my designer for less: How to eBay like  a pro.

* For services like massages, facials, laser hair removal – you better believe I’m using social coupon sites like Yipit to find them at crazy discounted rates.

* Consider getting a new credit card. Some cards now offer amazing sign-up bonuses as well as great reward points. Check the offers at CardHub.com or CreditCards.com to make sure your credit card company isn’t ripping you off.

* Simply stop buying things you don’t need. If you want to see friends, go for a run instead of going shopping. If you do end up shopping with friends, DON’T try anything on. Studies prove that once you see something on your body, your mind automatically takes possession, so you will always feel a loss if you don’t buy it.

2. Learn the fine art of complaining:

* You can almost always get a better price on your cell phone rate plan and your cable/internet service just by calling your providers and asking for a better price. In order to retain you as a customer, they can pull some strings and give you promotions that will help you save money and lower your monthly bill. Here’s how I did it with sprint: Want to lower your cell bill? Just Ask.

* Complaining also comes in handy when you’ve received poor customer service from a business and can get them to compensate you for their mistake. This is especially true for issues you have during travel – if your seat doesn’t recline or if your hotel room’s air conditioner sucks, effective complaining will almost always guarantee free miles or a discount from your bill. Here’s how I did it with American Airlines: The fine art of complaining.

3. Educate yourself on proper investing

* Have the right account: Never keep all of your money in a checking account that earns little or no interest. Check online for accounts offering a higher yield, as well as accounts that will not charge you ridiculous maintenance and other transaction fees. Many banks like ALLY now even refund ATM fees. This is the kind of bank you want to give your money to.

* Have a retirement account: The younger you start, the better. Make the initiative to learn the best option for you, and take it. If your company offers any kind of contribution match – I will come and smack you if you don’t take that. It’s free money crazy head. Read this for a quick breakdown of IRA’s (because they can be confusing).

* Get automatic: Set up automatic transfers to a savings account earning high interest so that you can start effortlessly saving money, and set up automatic bill pay so that you’re never late on your payments. Read here for how to automate it all so you can stop worrying about it.

 4. Learning where to put your money (and in what order)

* Always pay the debt with the highest interest first. Have a credit card with 19% interest and a bigger student loan debt at 8%? I know you want to chip away at the bigger debt first, but paying off the higher interest will save you money in the long run.

* Next you need to build an emergency fund. The rule of thumb is at least three months salary.

* Lastly fund your retirement and put the rest in a high interest saving or checking account. Only THEN you can start buying those big ticket items you want.

5. Having a positive outlook on money

* Create goals: Figure out an amount you want to save and write it down. Once you have that goal, figure out how you are going to attain it. Cutting costs? Extra work? Selling some of your things? A book I really love that I’m reading now is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It’s the concept of knowing and believing that you will attain riches will help it to become a reality.

* Stay positive: Don’t get in the mindset that whatever your situation happens to be means that you will never be able to attain wealth. Maybe you lack formal education or you have a low paying job. You can’t continue to blame outside factors – it is in YOUR power to change your situation, and staying positive and knowing that you are capable of having the lifestyle you desire will attract that into your life.

I know that money doesn’t buy happiness, but guess what? Neither does poverty. This year, start taking control of your finances. Stop buying things you don’t need or can’t afford. That Chanel purse won’t help you out when you’re being denied a loan on a house or when they’re threatening to turn off your power. Trust me, being very conscious of where your money is going and ensuring that you’re always getting the best deal are habits that will reward you for the rest of your life.

14 Comments

  1. Thanks this is great advice! I especially love #4, I hadn’t thought of an emergency fund, or paying off the highest interest rate first.
    I’m also reading Think and Grow Rich, love it!!

  2. ldvaughanter says:

    A big THANK YOU for being in the fashion and entertainment business and telling people that gratuitous displays of wealth at the sacrifice of your credit scores IS NOT THE WAY TO GO. It’s great seeing a beautiful and smart woman being bold enough to say it’s okay to be frugal. Even beneficial to health, mind and body. Financial stress makes you look older and does horrible things to your mental and physical well being. I truly believe that if we took care of our finances the way we attempt to do with our bodies (working out, eating right etc) we wouldn’t have to spend so much money on spa treatments,massages and designer clothes. They are great, don’t get me wrong, but if that “stuff” is putting you in debt or keeping you from your financial goals it’s completely unnecessary. Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing more of your editorials.

    • Thank you SO much for taking the time to write this comment. It’s notes like this that make creating new posts worthwhile. I appreciate it!

  3. I read your article on “how the American dream is broken” and had to follow the link here to read more.

    I love this, this is spot on.

    My daughter of all people told me about a book she was reading: You are worth millions you just don’t know it.

    You would think that it was about self worth but infact it’s about the exact same thing you are talking about – people living within their means, understanding that you should have a certian money mind set and that yes – you are worth millions and you are squandering it away trying to live up to an expectation that is false. To quote the book

    “You have been convinced you need those $150 dollar sneakers, that do not help you run faster, jump higher and were not made by that basketball player.”
    it’s just a way of moving your millions into their pockets.

    • William medina says:

      I have that conversation with my kids all the time…. Do you really need a pair of $150 sneakers when another can do. You can be hip and broke or learn to be frugal and living comfortable (with money in the bank)?

      But kids…..

  4. Ashley,

    You. Are. AMAZING. I found your site through LearnVest.com (I’ve actually been on their page all morning reading such incredible articles–yours being one of them), and I’m so GRATEFUL I found you! I work in the advertising business; the pay is low, but the “external demands/expectations” are high. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your posts and sharing your wisdom/insight in how to live. I’ve been so challenged and encouraged by your posts; I feel like my life CHANGES TODAY!

    You’re amazing. Keep up the incredible work! I look forward to reading many many more posts to come!

    • This is the best comment I have ever received. YOU are amazing! Thank you so much for taking the time to post such an amazing, positive message. I can’t tell you how much it’s appreciated.

  5. This site is terrific! I am a 22 year old male at the University of Alberta taking business. I bartend 4 nights a week and assist accountants during the day when time permits it. This site has great tips for students on it. I also like seeing your tips on educating oneself about the stock market. I have recently started saving money to put it into a portfolio.

    Anyways thanks!

  6. Good stuff TFM! “Can you do any better on the price?” has – no lie – saved me thousands of dollars over the years. Never hurts to ask.

  7. I love your site and look forward to each new article. You have helped me think about my money in a whole new light.

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