Sometimes the best way to learn about money is through experience. How do you get this experience? One good way is to read personal finance blogs and listen to podcasts from money experts.
But, want to know how you can start learning more right now? We’ve hit up some of our favorite personal finance bloggers and asked for their top money lessons. Take a look:
Lesson #1: Changing your money mindset is everything
When you think about money, you may just think about the numbers. But what if you took it a step further and looked beyond the numbers?
For example, your mindset, behaviors, and spending patterns all affect your money management style.
“The best money lesson I’ve learned over the past few years is that your money mindset is more important than the number in your bank account. If you fear money or think you’re terrible with money, that will become true,” says family finance expert Catherine Alford.
“If you have a positive money mindset, believe you deserve raises, and believe you can learn what you need to know about money, that will also become true. Personally, I prefer the latter,” says Alford.
Start by writing down your money beliefs and look at how they may be holding you back. If you try to re-write your money story, this may end up positively affecting your financial life.
Lesson #2: The money isn’t always worth it
Have you ever dreamed of earning more? Or have you ever thought “Once I earn more money, I’ll be happier?”
It’s easy to get into the trap of “I’ll be happy when…” But this can be a dead end road. Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100k learned that doing something just for the money isn’t always worth it.
“I took a job for the money after negotiating $20,000 more than they offered. There were serious red flags during the interview process that I choose to ignore because I thought the money would be worth it,” explains Dunlap.
“Long story short, it wasn’t. I ended up having to quit after only 10 weeks without another job lined up because it was so toxic. Money is important, but it will never make up for a horrible environment you spend 40 hours a week in.”
So next time you get lured by a paycheck, remember you still want to own your peace and happiness. Yes, we all have to do some jobs we don’t like, but money can’t fix all of your problems either.
Lesson #3 Pay yourself first
When you get paid, it seems like bills and life take every cent you earn. How can you start saving when it seems like you have nothing left over?
Although it can be tough, this requires action. And paying yourself first is something that you can do starting now, says K. Wright, personal finance freelance writer and founder of Money the Wright Way.
“My best money lesson: Pay. Yourself. First. This is a concept I still struggle with, as I am accustomed to paying bills first. It’s hard to practice when you have a million other financial obligations, but if you don’t set aside money for you, who will? Should you find yourself in a financial bind, you can bet the landlord, Sallie Mae, and the water company won’t be around to give back the money you paid them. Even if it’s a few dollars every payday, make yourself a priority,” she says.
Start by automating your savings and pay yourself with every paycheck. You can do this easily with Chime, and this way you can save effortlessly.
Lesson #4: Discipline leads to freedom
Money can be used to open up doors and be a tool of freedom. But in order to manage your money and unlock that freedom, you need discipline. That’s a lesson that Richmond Howard, founder of PF Geeks learned.
Howard realized that discipline isn’t something that has to feel restricting. Rather, it’s something that can help you get through hard times or support causes you’re passionate about.
“The discipline I have with my finances now has given me the chance to freely give to causes I support and to help family through hard times. The truth is that financial discipline leads to financial freedom. Sticking to our budget and finding ways to save money doesn’t constrict us,” he says.
To start, create a budget and track everything you spend. Write down your goals, and this way you’ll know what you’re working toward.
Lesson #5: Not all advice is worth it
Have you ever fallen down a personal finance rabbit hole and read 20 articles, each with conflicting advice and ideas? You don’t know what advice to take or where to go.
Blogger and accountant Eric J. Nisall learned how to be discerning and break through the noise.
“Not every piece of advice is meant for you. Not every person should be giving advice,” he says.
“It’s important to vet the source and see how you can adapt the information to fit your specific situation. It’s perfectly ok to pass on tips that others find helpful if it simply doesn’t fit with your personal preferences or situational needs,” says Nisall.
So next time you’re evaluating a piece of advice, understand how it can be used in your situation and take it with a grain of salt.
Lesson #6: Focus on your mental health, not just money
Money is important, but not at the expense of your mental health. If you’re pinching pennies and not taking care of your well-being, you’re doing it wrong. If you are working yourself to the bone to try to get ahead and avoiding your needs, money is meaningless.
“My #1 money lesson is that your mental health is more important than money. As important as it is to have your finances in order, there are limits to this,” says Bob, who only uses his first name at his blog, The Frugal Fellow.
“If you reach a point where you can no longer do what you’re doing, it’s okay to take a step back. That is actually what I’m doing right now, and I couldn’t be happier. You have to take care of yourself because if you don’t, money won’t do you any good.”
Lesson #7: Invest in yourself
Investing in yourself now can pay dividends later. You never know how a small action can compound and lead to future returns.
So, take the time, money and effort to invest in yourself now, says Martin Dasko of Studenomics.
“Invest in yourself whenever possible. You won’t always see immediate results. You’ll always be further ahead. A $20 investment into a book or a lunch meeting can go a long way. You never what action today will change the course of your future,” he says.
Say yes to that meeting, invest in your education or business, and know that you’re playing the long game.
Lesson #8: Automate your payments and savings
Getting your finances in order takes discipline and work. But you may not be good at staying accountable and doing the work to set money aside for a rainy day. That’s why automating your savings as well as your payments can help you get ahead.
“For me, automating my payments and savings was crucial to any success I’ve had to date. It removed much of the anxiety I was feeling when paying bills and frees up my energy to focus on positive things, like goals and gratitude,” says blogger Erica Henkel at The Lady in the Black.
To make automating easy, you can start by signing up for a Chime bank account.
Lesson #9: Do a mid-year check in with your money
Managing your money is a process and not something you set and forget. That’s especially true when managing your income and your taxes.
Doing a check-in mid-year, or even every quarter, can help you avoid tax trouble. The key is to track, review, and reassess.
“My wife and I once ended up owing a big tax bill. It was primarily due to one of us working a couple of part-time jobs that withheld little to no money for taxes, as well as it being the first year we had significant side hustle income,” explains David Carlson, founder of Young Adult Money.
“The lesson learned was to always do a mid-year checkup to see how much income we’ve made (both at our 9-to-5 jobs and through side hustles) and compare that to how much has been withheld. If you do this in the middle of the year, you still have time to make adjustments that can help you avoid a big tax bill, such as changing your allowances on your W-4, having additional money voluntarily withheld from your paycheck, or paying quarterly estimated taxes,” says Carlson.
Lesson #10: Save for emergencies
Life is full of the unexpected and money can be a lifeboat that helps you get through the tough times.
“My best money lesson was having an emergency fund. I’d read this in some personal finance books, and my parents urged me to save for one, so I did. I didn’t realize how important it was until I lost a job several years ago,” says Kristin Wong, author of Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford.
“I was relieved to have a cushion of savings to help me through it. It still felt awful to lose the job, but the financial burden wasn’t as heavy. That was everything,” says Wong.
Start saving for emergencies now by setting money aside each paycheck, even if it’s just $10. Ultimately, you should aim for three to six months worth of expenses saved.
Lesson #11: Boost your earnings
It’s easy to clip coupons and cut back as an initial strategy when working to save more money. But it’s not the only route, either, and there may be better ways to save more money.
Cutting back is just one part of the equation. Earning more is another.
“People with lower incomes might save as much as they can but still barely move the needle compared to high earners who save only a moderate percentage. Thus, my best money lesson is to strive to increase your earnings,” says Joyce Chou, personal finance writer at Financial Impulse.
You can do this by asking for a raise at work, picking up a side hustle on the weekends, or selling some of your items for cash.
Getting your money in order is tough work and can be a process of trial and error. Yet, heeding advice from these 11 lessons, you can learn how to make your money work for you. Are you ready to start saving more money today?