Money rules"If you can't see it and you can't touch it, you won't spend it." That's a money rule, and one I happen to live by on a daily basis. Just as I believe and adhere to the rule that you should live below your means.

Over more than two decades of helping people learn to manage their money, those are among the maxims that have stood out in my mind. They're the things I find myself thinking (if not repeating) over and over again. Why? Because they make sense. They're funny. They're memorable. And they work.

In my own case, not having been able to see the money or touch the money I'd had deposited automatically into my son's 529 account means that when he starts college next year, I won't be worrying about paying for it. Living below my means on a consistent basis allows me to save for retirement -- again, consistently.

But I never thought about gathering those maxims into a book until I picked up Food Rules by Michael Pollan. One by one, he laid out straightforward tactics for eating, well, better. "If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it's made in a plant, don't," he wrote. And, "Don't eat cereal that changes the color of the milk." I was hooked and determined to do for money what he did for food.

Money RulesMy new book, Money Rules just hit the shelves.

Before you dive in, though, I have a confession. I didn't come up with every single one of them. I came up with many, to be sure, including many of my favorites. But some of them came from people I know. "Your house is a piggy bank, not a cash cow," for example, is my husband's. "Personal finance is more personal than finance," came from Tim Maurer, a financial advisor and longtime source of mine. Other rules came from people I don't know. "Just because you have a coupon doesn't mean you should go shopping," is one of my favorites. Believe it or not, it's a line uttered by a precocious child actor on one of those Disney Channel (or maybe Nickelodeon) shows.

To me, that only makes the money rules more interesting. We all have rules that we live by that have helped us out of jams or to toe the line when it was more than difficult. And so, with this post, we're kicking off a contest. Tell me what your best money rules are. And explain how they've helped you live your best financial life. The authors of the best rules will win a signed copy of Money Rules. And who knows, your own personal maxim may end up included in its sequel.

Here are a few of my favorites to get your juices flowing:

Money Rule No. 10. Live below your means. Period. When I hear people saying live on what you make, I shake my head. You have to live on less than you make. Doing this consistently means you automatically have some money to put into savings. And that gives you the fortitude to overcome any financial problem.

Money Rule No. 36. It's easy to buy things. It's hard to sell things.
And it's even harder to sell things at a profit. Remember that when you're shopping for stocks, art, real estate, cars. (In fact, if you can think of something where this is not true, I want to know about it!)

Money Rule No. 79. If you can't afford to replace it, insure it. If you can afford to replace it, don't. This applies to all sorts of purchases -- cars, expensive jewelry, your home, but it also answers the question about whether or not you need life insurance. Think of it as income insurance. If your family couldn't afford to live without your income, then you need to buy life insurance. If they could, you don't.


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My money rule is myself first. I set aside about 10 % and put it savings right away, so if I don't see it, I won't spend it.

March 27 2012 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

1)Stay out of debt and 2)cut insurance (especially cut all the auto out) and in 30 years you will have a ton of $$$. 3)NEVER barrow money for anything except a good education and real estate (and accelerate the payback time). If you need a car, and have only $1,000, then you but a $950 car and a $50 repair book. 4. Only barrow money when the return is greater than the cost of borrowing.Very few people understand how to use money as a "tool" to get ahead. There is a huge difference when barrow money is making you money, instead of costing you money.

March 27 2012 at 1:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Similar to Rule 36- Stuff loses its value the minute you buy it and bring it home. I thing less is more very often, and play games to see how little I can spend each day!

March 26 2012 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My money rule is to ask myself if a purchase is worth two hours of my life or however long it took to earn the
money to buy the item.

March 26 2012 at 6:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My money rule is before purchasing something to ask myself if it is worth 2 hours of my life or whatever the corresponding amount of time spent earning the money to purchase the item was.

March 26 2012 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to coop9123's comment

I like that. But If i look at what getting married (and a family) cost me, I should be dead by now.

March 27 2012 at 1:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply